Our kids are 7 and 10, and I never really got out of the habit of cutting their food for them. WTF, right? I’m not saying this is a good or normal thing, I’m just saying it’s a thing. Sometimes we fall into habits that continue far beyond their useful or necessary life.
So this morning when Henry, who is 7, asked his dad to cut his pancakes, Jeff’s reply was, as is typical for him, candid, self- aware, instinctive, maybe a little ornery, definitely astute.
He said, “I can cut your pancakes, like, two more times.”
Henry, bewildered, asked, “Two more times In my whole life?!”
Jeff said, “Yes. In your whole life.”
So of course, Henry picked up his knife and sawed the pancakes into pieces by himself with no problem.
When it comes to habits that have continued far beyond their useful or necessary life, or in this case let’s say bad habits that never served a useful purpose, it also so happens that I have been mentally beating the crap out of myself for years, especially along the lines of being a Bad Mom. So a typical Bad Mom response to this would be me thinking, Duh, Ally. Obviously he can cut his own pancakes. He can probably do a lot of things that you aren’t asking him to do for himself, like help around the house, pick up his clothes. He can probably run the washing machine by himself, if you’d just take the time to teach him. You are not setting him up for success. You are setting him up for failure. He’s going to have entitlement issues and low self-esteem and difficulty his whole life because you are a shitty mother and have not recognized all the things he is capable of doing for himself and you have just obliviously carried on, cutting his pancakes for him, because that’s what you think a caring mom does and you are wrong. You need to work harder at this parenting thing. You need to be Maximizing the Children’s Development.
I wish I could say I am exaggerating this voice, but I’m probably not.
However, today, that voice did not come.
Have you ever had this happen? Where something like grace or perspective descends upon you, seemingly out of nowhere? Like there is this huge unveiling of an obvious truth, something you’ve known “in theory” for your whole life but have never been able to truly “get”?
I can of course “imagine” having that reaction, that voice in my head, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to type those words. But I don’t really believe any of those words. Instead, I have this feeling, this knowing, actually, that it’s fine. I’m a good enough Mom. The kids are fine. We are all fine.
Wouldn’t it be great if that Bad Mom Voice was gone for good? I will not be so bold or foolish to think it is, but it is on a break it seems, and thank you God, I will take it.