I recently saw a parent lose her cool at the playground at my daughter’s elementary school. A mom friend and I were letting the kids play and swing after school, and a woman picking up her children was apparently in a hurry to return home. “I’M STILL WORKING—I’M NOT HERE TO PLAY,” she screeched at her boy, who was making a break for the spider climber. Then, worst of all, she actually shouted, “Get your *bleep* down from there! If you don’t get down here in five seconds, you’re going back to after-school care!”
The before-kids me might have chuckled to myself about this, someone so blatantly flipping out about a minor incident in front of a small crowd of people. But I’m a mom now. And the mom in me was saddened by this. Yes, because I felt bad for this little boy, who was only trying to enjoy a moment on the playground, but also because I saw a super stressed-out mom. And I can empathize with her.
Parenting isn’t easy
Being a parent is full of countless blessings, but we’d all be lying to ourselves if we said it wasn’t hard sometimes, too. And being a working parent is hard. I know well the constant juggle of working and parenting and trying to give your kids as much as possible, but still having to deal with your work. You feel pulled in every direction.
The mom I saw losing her stuff on the playground was stressed. She sounded like a monster, but I get where she’s coming from. Doesn’t my kid know everything I’m doing for him? Doesn’t he know how tired I am, how little sleep I get, how much more work I have to do?
Kids are kids
What I learned being a witness in that situation, though, is that our kids don’t (usually) do things to annoy us. They do them because they’re kids. What’s the harm in climbing the spider real quick, Mom? But to Working Mom who has been grinding since 7 this morning, that’s lost productivity. Can’t her son understand? Can’t he just, for once, do exactly what she wants him to?
Kids are kids. They’re not concerned about the same things we are, and they shouldn’t be. Being a kid seems so much easier than being an adult, but the truth is, it has its fair share of stresses. Kids don’t often get to choose what they want to do. We’re constantly bossing them around, giving them boundaries, making them eat their veggies, and the like. Try to remember that the way you treat your children will come back to you. If you’re screaming at them for minor things all the time, they’re probably going to remember it.
Hang in there
I know how hard it is to wear many hats. I know how frustrating kids can be. But is it worth freaking out? Threatening to make your kids miserable? Probably not. May we all have a little patience—with our kids, with other parents, and with ourselves.