Today, it happened. I became the lunatic mother who threatens her child in public.
I swore it would never happen to me. Before children, I looked at those red-faced mothers, talking through clenched teeth an inch away from their child’s face, and thought smugly, “Those mothers simply don’t discipline…that’s why their children won’t listen.”
Jake became “grabby” last week. He touches everything. And, when I say everything, I mean every single thing in sight. If we are in the grocery story, he touches the cart, the fruit, the stand the fruit is on, the floor next to the stand that the fruit is on, the sale tags, the little flappy things on the shelf that point out the great deals, the cans, the person next to us in line (oops, sorry, he’s not normally like this), the door, the ants next to the door…
In the pet store today, Jake touched his usual one hundred items, even though I told him not to, and when he almost dislodged a display, I became that frustrated, red-faced mother, talking an inch away from my child’s bemused face. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman. Looking at me smugly.
You know me. I do discipline Jake. He obeys me, almost all of the time. He is a good, sweet little boy who really wants to do as he is told.
But, man, the stuff on those shelves seem to cause havoc in his brain that blocks out almost everything but “touch me, touch me, touch me, do it, do it, doitdoitdoitodit”.
And, then, I lose all sense of my own brain besides “quit it, quit it, quit it, quit it”.
I’ve written before about being judged and how rough that is, and how it makes me be careful about judging others. And, yeah, that still applies to this situation. But, really, the thing I’ve been thinking about since I got home with Jake and he has returned to his usual happy, ball tossing and giggling little human self, is how humbling children can be.
I don’t think of myself as a prideful person. Any pride that is left in there, though, goes right out of me as I have been caught off guard, in public, acting in a way I swore I never would.
Being a mother has taught me so much about myself. I know exactly how far I can be pushed before I snap. I know how much rest I need. I know how many days I can go before I simply must go for a run. I know how many chapters of a book I can read before I have to go empty the dishwasher. I know how long the dishes can sit while I enjoy watching Baby Einstein with Jake. I know how many times Jake can drop a toy from three feet onto our hard wood floor before I need him to stop. Maybe most importantly, I know that there is almost nothing in my world that won’t be cured by a long bath followed by a good night of sleep.
Finding out the answers to all of the above things I know about myself has been humbling. I had to go too far, for too long, without enough rest, and let Jake shriek one too many times to figure it out.
If all of this sounds discouraging and annoying to parents-to-be, I’m sorry. The figuring out part is what has kept me humble.
And to all my fellow parents out there who are silently saying an “amen, preach it, sister”, I offer you a smile, a hug, and tell you it’s time to go take a bath and get some rest. You know what I mean when I say that it’s tiring to be this humble.