The adventures of Sarah, Bill, Kate, and Eric McGaugh. Family purpose: To appreciate life's simple beauties, to probe the meaning of existence, and to find the magic in an ordinary day.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Slowing Down: Taming the "Almighty Me"
"The translation of the incoherent rage of the toddler at not getting her way is "HOW DARE YOU DENY THE ALMIGHTY ME!!!" It takes more than 34 months for most children to accept that the Almighty Me and "me" are not the same. (In fact, I've run into a fair number of adults who obviously still cling to that fantasy. I call them "terrible twodults." Isn't that clever?)"
I excerpted this from a charlotteobserver.com article that Bill sent me. In trying to balance two children, we have had Katie off of her nap schedule. Throw in the mix a mommy who tends to overschedule activities and isn't as spontaneous as I'd like to be, adjustment to a new family member, and the natural tendencies of being two and three years old, and well, lately we have had some little battles. We are working it out: more naps, time outs when necessary, etc. I am also descheduling us: we are taking a hiatus from gymnastics and ballet (though music will continue) and from a hurried morning pace. We just need time to be together, to have mornings in our jammies without rushing around, and to spend time with family and friends. It is time to listen to the needs of my child and slooooooow down.
It all seemed to culminate last week on Friday, after a week of classes that Katie didn't really seem to want. On Wednesday and Thursday she asked if we could just stay home (from our classes). Of course I encouraged/pushed us to go, but I got to thinking about how she must be feeling. Giving a child opportunities to excel and challenge herself is important, but not at the expense of having time to relax and pursue her own interests at home. Tricky business, this parenting thing. :-)
Anyway, what makes me laugh about that excerpt from above is that I am sure that I still struggle with my "Almighty Me." Certainly one of the chief characteristics of the "Almighty Me" must in fact be pride, from which I suffer greatly. I had a great talk with my friend Lauren on Friday about motherhood and how important it is that mothers be realistic with themselves and with other moms. Why can't we have a play date at each others' houses where we help each other with chores? Why can't we as a culture of moms return to the way of the women helping each other cook for the community barn raising? I definitely fall into the trap as much as anyone: tidying the house for days before friends come over---as if my house is pristine all the time---or overscheduling my child so that she will be competitive for college admissions someday (what if she wants to pursue something else with passion and commitment besides college?)
I was brought almost to my knees with humility, first...and then with laughter, later. A mom at gymnastics told me that her daughter knew her phonics by 20 months old. (She did amend that perhaps it was just basic phonics, as her daughter is now working on longer letter sets currently). I felt as if the heavens opened at that moment and big voice boomed down and asked me, "And what exactly have YOU been doing with your time, Sarah?" Katie is still working on identifying every letter sound correctly, and just lately have we begun word families. I immediately fell into the trap of comparing my work as a parent with that of another mother...a big no no. I could feel my pride, my Almighty Me, becoming defensive.
But then I thought: I have given Katie song while cooking, the quest for magic and beauty, cuddles and books, time spent in her imagination, unbreakable bonds with family. I am sure so many other mothers do, too.
However, it was a pivotal moment in which I understood that my Almighty Me does not need to place my own perfectionistic tendencies onto my daughter. When the Almighty Me wants to be perfect, the regular "me" needs to have a laugh and slow down and realize that I will never be the perfect mother. Hopefully in exposing my own imperfection, Katie will see hope: she will know that she does not need to be without flaw either---one of the better gifts we can give our children.