My mother was the disciplinarian in our home. My Daddy was more of the peacekeeper or the good-cop. He stepped into the fire occasionally. If someone started yelling or fighting, he’d come out stomping and yelling louder. We’d all stop and everything would fall silent.
Momma on the other hand was not having it and now that I’m a grown woman raising a daughter, I reflect back on my relationship with her a lot more.
In thinking about how my mother disciplined me and my sister, what I remember most is how she would get angry with us when we disobeyed or got into trouble…understandable…but it wasnt that she got angry with us. She would stay angry with us for a while. Not like holding a grudge against us but long enough for me to think….damn, momma still mad?
As I’ve gotten older, I’m learning that discipline doesn’t have to involve anger. Sure, am I entitled to my emotion? Yes but I don’t want to live in the emotion. Knowing that my daughter is growing, she will constantly make mistakes. As her mother, I have to respond to these things. I have to teach her. But if I’m angry all of the time how can I be effective? What kind of relationship does this mean for us? What kind of emotional environment does this mean for me?
I often think about my mother and how she must have felt holding on to her anger. I can remember how her face looked, how her voice tone would change, and how her eyes would change colors. I think about how I feel when I’m upset and mad and if this is the way she felt…WHOA!
As a little girl, I was hurt with the way I thought I made her feel. I would always return to my mother and apologize for what I had done. Sometimes she accepted, sometimes she didn’t. The adult me understands why she rejected some of those apologies and why she may have still been angry with me. The mother me now sees things a bit differently.
Parenting is like having the same fight over and over and over and over and over and over again. I’m sure my mother had become weary with me and my sister as repeat offenders. Children are repeat offenders. Some adults are too but children are notorious for screwing up and doing it again. My mother’s anger may have been the result of having to pass out too many asswhoopings and scoldings and this was the result of her being angry with us even after things were said and done. Maybe she felt like she was stuck on the ride. And…again…my daddy was not the one for being the bad guy. This was not his bag at all. So it was her…all of the time. Round and Round and Round.
On the other hand, being stuck in the hamster wheel of parenting doesn’t give us a pass to be perpetually pissed off. Does it warrant good reason for an emotional response? Yes of course it does. Just like we love, we dislike, we’re indifferent but it doesn’t have to be so severe and extreme.
Parenting involves redundancy. This should be a given but it’s not. Some of us don’t get it until it gets us. Most of us have that same fight over and over again until we give up and let the fight win.
Knowing all of this however has opened an entirely different approach for me. It’s forcing me to adjust the lens on how I see myself and how I affect my daughter.
I’ve always known what type of parent I wanted to be…hahaha. I didn’t want to be a parent at all. I knew it was a hardass job that I didn’t want! But now that I on duty, I can’t just fold my arms in discontent and remain disdainful at every challenge.
I want to be effective without being damaging. I want to discipline my daughter without breaking her spirit. I don’t want her to feel like she is a disappointment just because she makes mistakes. I want her to learn. I want her to experience life. I want to experience her journey with her and alongside her as she becomes an adult. Unfortunately the path to raising a well-adjusted child is a bit rugged and treacherous but its worth it.
Granted, this eureka moment isnt going to simply waltz into my life and find its appropriate place. It definitely doesn’t mean that my daughter will be handled with oven mitts. I know its going to take time. Im going to have to work at it. I know that Im still going to have plenty of moments of being pissed off at her and the situations that we may find ourselves in but my vantage point is different and therefore my response should be.