Naughty and Nice

When I talk to my wonderful and down to earth mama friends, it is common for us to share our parenting struggles and triumphs. I’ve heard many stories about hard mama days and how naughty our kids can be (told right before the story about something sweet that the said naughty kid did). I think that the following idea won’t be too controversial on this blog with the few readers being down to earth mamas themselves, but I am sure that there are some who would not like to think that their precious kids could ever do anything wrong. The other day I overheard a parent describing how their 3 year old child’s poor behavior is because they are tag (talented and gifted). I think that I may have thrown up in my mouth a little.

The truth is that all kids obviously have many wonderful qualities but also a few things about them that can make parenting/teaching/or interacting with them difficult.  Lesson to be learned: My child can be naughty sometimes, and so can yours. Some children are whiny, some little ones are a little aggressive, some are sassy, some are passive, some are manipulative etc…. Even if you think that your child poops roses, chances are that some adult that interacts with your child someday will feel challenged in some way.

Many times when I struggle with something about my children’s behavior, I often wonder what I am doing wrong as a parent. Why are my kids the whiniest or most defiant? The truth is that they most likely aren’t (did you read about the 6 year old who got handcuffed the other day?), but in those desperate moments, it sometimes feels like I am the only parent who has no idea what I am doing. But the truth is, we are all just figuring it out as we go along. That bragging mom who acts like she always has her act together and seems to know the answer to every problem??? Guess what, she may be even more insecure, and yes, her kids act naughty sometimes too…even if she would never admit it.

Parenting can be really hard sometimes, and I always am drawn to other parents who “keep it real.” Parents who love their kids and are striving to be the best parents they can be, but aren’t afraid to admit when they fall short or need help. The internet is filled with blogs of parents who fill every entry with brags of children with clean and stylish outfits  perfect smiles that show their resemblance to their beautiful mothers. It is hard to not feel like I fall short when I see a blog of a mom who does a new art project every day with her children that she got off of pinterest, when I am struggling to get dinner on the table and the 10 loads of laundry folded. And if I’m being totally honest, that laundry is more likely sometimes to be stuffed into drawers than it is to be properly folded.

So,  my wonderful mama friends and family who read this post, let’s not be so hard on ourselves. We aren’t perfect and neither are our children. I am grateful for all of the examples I see in my life of mothers who are invested and care for their children deeply but not perfectly. I feel blessed to have many family and friends who I feel love and support from and who love my children and accept us for who we are. I hope that I can be that same support to others and share in their triumphs and struggles.  Most of us are doing the best that we can, and I think that we are doing better than we think sometimes.

Karli - April 18, 2012 - 11:59 pm

If it makes you feel any better, my laundry may or may not have just been sitting in heaping (clean) piles in the baskets in the hallway (we have no laundry room) for the last 10 days… just saying :).

Love that you keep it real. I’m sorry your kids are naughty and glad mine NEVER are. Oh wait, that was a heaping pile of sarcasm bigger than my laundry loads. All I know is, I was a REALLY good parent before I ever had kids… and I have to keep having them until every single one of my soapboxes is smashed into smitherines.

I even have one child who I pretty much thought pooped roses for awhile… he was occasionally cranky, but pretty much the easiest going little guy… Heavenly Father must have seen me starting to play favorites (because he was SOOOO much easier than his siblings) and turned on the mean switch, because overnight he became what all the other four year olds are… whiny, angry, and self-absorbed. At least all my kids are back on even playing fields now :)

Rachel - April 19, 2012 - 2:00 am

If you ever need a mom to keep it real for you, you know where to find me. :)
On a side note, I sure wish parents would stop labeling their kids as my TAG kid, or my ADHD kid. Nothing like a label to put your kid into a track that is really hard to break.

Wendy M. - April 19, 2012 - 7:10 am

Thank you Kara- I love that you are honest! You know my trials and tribulations with my oldest- I most certainly do not have it all together as a parent. Sometimes I really only want to be around other parents with difficult children! It’s easier than hearing about all the perfect days with perfect children that the parents you described love to brag about. I agree that most of them are likely coming from a place of insecurity.

christa - April 19, 2012 - 8:44 am

there seems to be a certain amount of maturity that comes at some point (some sooner or much later than others) when you kind of have this “aha” moment and you finally stop comparing yourself to others.
i think you’re there.
when we are more real with one another we can help each other stop comparing and one-upping.
we are all proud mama’s and want everyone to know how awesome and talented and cute our kids are but sharing real moments can help us all feel connected and renewed!
we should want to lift each other up and give words of encouragement and not tear each other down.
the media tears women down so much from an early age that it’s really hard to get to that point when we feel secure, happy and at peace with who we really are. Of course that comes after years of catty, insecure behavior and not loving how we look and trying to figure out who we are not what media tells us to be.
i’ve been trying really hard not to judge people lately because I don’t know what they’ve been through. Women of the world let’s lift each other up and change the world for our daughters!!
ok, I’m done.

Amanda W. - April 19, 2012 - 10:31 am

Karli nailed it: “I was a REALLY good parent before I ever had kids.” So true!

It totally cracks me up, and I have to work so hard not to laugh, when I’ve asked Naomi not to do something/touch something/stay off of something and she makes eye contact, gets this look on her face, and then ever so slowly (while keeping eye contact) starts doing what I just asked her not to do. Agh! Total limits testing, and foreshadowing bigger challenges to come. Little stinker! Good thing she’s so cute!

I hear you, Kara. I feel like I am totally learning as I go, and support and feedback from other parents (Dads, too!) has been the most helpful thing through this big adventure.

Elisabeth@SimplyParkers - April 19, 2012 - 10:03 pm

Lol Kara. One of my biggest parenting fears is having some sort of confrontation down the road with those parents who, in your words, think their kids poop roses. Am so thankful for fellow “keeping it real” kinda mamas like you! Would love to get Judah and Miriam together one of these days by the way :)

kara - April 20, 2012 - 9:45 am

Karli,
I just listened to a song by Lucy Schwartz that other day that says: “The only thing that I know… is that I don’t know a thing.” Yep, parenting is pretty humbling, and I am so grateful that it forces to me to grow as a person. Send fiesty Nolan our way.. he will fit right in over here :).
Rachel,
You are a keep it real mama Rachel, and I love that about you. You are also hard on yourself (as most of us are). You do a great job, and I can’t wait to hear news of #2. And in regards to labels, I think that one of the thing that has worried me with my kids starting school is that they might be labeled for something and never be able to shake it.
Wendy,
You feel like you don’t have it together, but you really are such a good example. I am amazed by your patience (even if you don’t feel that way) and love for Brenden. You have been such a good mama and advocate for him even when it has been very draining, and I really admire you for it.
Christa,
Preach it girl. Preach it on the mountain tops :).
Amanda,
It is a good thing that they are so cute and endearing. That is why I am worried when they are teenagers and not so cute/charming any more. Will we still want to keep them :)??
Elisabeth,
You most likely will run into a mom like that. Unless it is a severe situation (that directly involves your child), I have found that the best thing to do it to smile and nod my head in agreement to how wonderful their child is and then just flee as quickly as possible when there is a break in conversation. It is certainly important to speak up for something seriously, but if it is just enduring the bragging, there is not much I personally am going to be able to do to change a parent like that. Yes, let’s get together. Maybe a walk next week?? I will email you!

adrienne w - April 20, 2012 - 10:16 am

What a good post! I have to say that I am so grateful that I am at a point where I am rarely hard on myself because of comparing myself to others. I do get a little annoyed by the people who only paint rosy pictures of their lives, parents or not. And I love to hear other people’s REAL moments. But for the most part, I try to focus on myself and my family and how I feel about it. That being said, I have found a little dose of “Mommy Guilt” to be useful. I want to be continually improving and just writing off my shortcomings as “the way I am” isn’t good enough. I am in no way a perfectionist (and again, I am thankful for that), but I think that a little guilt can help us improve. For example, I should feel a little guilty when I lose my temper and yell at the kids. That guilt helps me strive to do better. Does that make sense?
I just wanted to make a little comment about labeling kids: Though I think it can be dangerous, I also think it can be necessary. Coming from a background of child development education, I know that if I’m working with a kid it can be very helpful for me to know if there is a “label,” even in every day situations. I had a mom call me to RSVP for Thatcher’s 5th birthday party last year and I was asking her if there was anything I should know about her son in relation to him coming to the party. She hesitated, but said he has mild autism. She didn’t want me to judge him (or her). Having been an aid in the past, that was great for me to know. It helped me think outside the box and consider anything that might make the party more enjoyable for him. Someone once told me that kids get labeled, so it is better that the label be accurate. A kid might get labeled as “bad” or “difficult” when in reality that label should be something like ADHD or Asperger’s. In that case, I think it’s positive to label. BUT I think as parents, we should treat our children as unique individuals and the labels should have little value in our relationship with them. So I think it is kind of funny for a parent to be using labels to justify their child’s behavior. I think I would throw up a little in my mouth as well! And I laughed at Karli’s comment about being a perfect parent before having children! So true for me!

Angie Miller - April 21, 2012 - 5:46 am

Kara! I have missed your blog and you!! I’m trying to catch up on all the posts I missed. You are simply amazing my old friend and your kids are so blessed to have you!

kara - April 22, 2012 - 9:17 pm

Adrienne,
Good points. Yes, it is better to have a proper label than a more negative label like you mentioned (the bad kid) etc… That was nice of you to go out of your way to be helpful to that boy at Thatcher’s party.
Angie,
I miss you. You don’t live in Klamath any more do you?? We need to catch up!! Sounds like you guys have had lots of changes! Hugs friend.

juliette - April 25, 2012 - 7:54 pm

So nice to know my 3 year-old is TAG! And I thought she was just being naughty!

Jesse - April 25, 2012 - 9:44 pm

I love reading your blog! I am so thankful for honest mamas. Motherhood is hard enough!! Regarding your Simplicity Parenting post- I would love to hear more about you getting rid of your “stuff”. I really want to go this direction but am overwhelmed by the task and can’t figure out where to start! I think I need to meet Audra :)

kara - April 25, 2012 - 11:01 pm

I know Juliette, it’s a good excuse… right?

Jesse,
I am glad that you are reading friend. Not only do I need to write more about getting rid of more stuff.. but I need to get rid of more step. I have definitely made steps in the right direction, but I need to keep on working at it! I definitely could part with way more stuff. Audra is very nice. You should make friends with her, and then I bet that she would help you too :). Oh, and she is Nova’s babysitter, so you guys have that connection. Hop you are well. I would love to catch up sometime!