Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sleepless Motherhood




   Last night I could not sleep. I over-caffeinated myself, I think. Or it could have been just about anything, really. It could have been this crazy-tough-love situation that arose between me and my daughter and how I had to basically break her heart in order to get through to her. She was being rather snotty with her friends and I had to finally tell her so because eventually they started being snotty right back (and rightly so, I think) to her. She would come to me with a sad inquisitive face and wonder why kids were being mean to her. So I told her the truth, as I saw it. It just about killed me, but I was just angry enough that it fueled me on. I did what I believe I needed to do as her mother. Again, I say, I told her the truth as I saw it. The inherent problem with me is that I realize, in all honesty, my insights aren't the best. I know what I know, but I don't know what it is that I don't know. So I have to fall back on my own spine, stick to my guns, and tell my child she was being mean. Sounds easy, I suppose. But it's not, especially when the child seems to have no real sense of it. Not that she lives in a bubble. Not that she doesn't interact with people all the time, but in this circumstance (I am referring to her online friends from children's forums mostly dealing with art/ creativity), she didn't see that her words (typed) have just as a profound effect on another child as the words she creates with her voice. I had to tell her that so she would understand the dynamics that exist in the realms of online communication. I had to tell her she did not have the right to criticize anyone. She didn't have the right to say something that would make another person's day worse--because we don't know what's going on in other people's lives. I guess it was a lesson about compassion. But it jolted her and that jolted me. I had to do it. Didn't I? Is this simple parenting 101 or am I treading on a new territory? I just think to myself, no wonder bullying is so prevalent. We seem to be learning how to be very very numb towards other people and I don't want that for myself, I don't want that for her. How do you find that balance, then, between self-confidence and kindness and self-awareness and self-protection? I mean, I want her to know compassion, but I don't want her to be too vulnerable either.

The funny thing is, make no mistake... little girls will take you to task. If there is just a tiny crack in your argument, they will pry at it with their tiny little fingers. So, even if they find something to say about your decisions, you have to be strong. You have to be strong when it's the most hilarious thing to come out of their mouth in a week (and it CAN be) and you have to be strong when they make such a valid point that you look like a fool (and they WILL). You have to stand your ground, come what may, because little girls need their moms to set the example, in a gentle, but firm way. One of my sisters always said my daughter lacks discipline (even when she was a baby!), but I don't agree. I don't exactly know what I think discipline is, but I do know I don't believe in striking a child. I don't believe in yelling at them all the time either. I do believe in revoking privileges and I believe in one good, long conversation about what has happened, what will happen, what won't... so on and so forth. I am a firm believer in direct communication. But then again, who knows? Maybe I am making the stupidest mistakes? Maybe I am making the most obviously stupid mistakes???

Okay. Deep breath. Moving on.

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