There’s just something about stereotypes that are so … true. For better or worse, whether we feel guilty about admitting it or not, stereotypes exist for a reason. They were coined because of a prevailing trend, and they typically continue to be proven.
My favorite stereotype is that “mother knows best” because she has that “motherly instinct.” We really do – we birthed these kids and literally had their ear since day one in utero, and I swear that umbilical cord is still there; it’s just invisible now.
I just know how my kids are feeling without having to ask them.
I know what they want to eat for lunch, but I ask them anyway.
I really do know if they want to go somewhere – or don’t want to go – and how they feel about the trip.
So, yeah – me and the kiddies just have this link, you know? But what happens when you don’t listen to that mommy voice? Or you let other voices drown it out?
I’ll tell you what happens: chaos. Irritation. Frustration. Tantrums. Sadness. Tears.
This past Saturday I let my kid down. I let myself down, and we had a rough time together because I didn’t listen to that mommy voice. It’d been gnawing at me for days, but I still didn’t pay attention. Instead of a lovely weekend day we had a shit time, and I almost lost it; my heart melted for her and I gave out hugs like they were magic healing potion.
Here’s how it went down. I moved Squish’s ballet class from her usual Thursday to Saturday morning (not a biggie). But … she was invited to a classmate’s birthday party due to start 15 minutes after the end of her class. So … technically we could make the party. But after an hour of dance class, could Squish last another 3 hours at a birthday party? My mommy instinct told me No. But other voices told me Yes.
Yes, let her go – she can get to know her new classmates. As if she doesn’t talk to them enough at school?
Yes, let her go – you don’t want her to miss a birthday party! She’ll have fun. She should have opportunities to be comfortable in social situations so she doesn’t turn out like you. No, I don’t like social situations and really have to force myself to go. And no, I really don’t like kids birthday parties.
Look, this is my kid. I recognize her social interactions as being somewhat similar to mine, so I “get” her. She’s like me. She doesn’t like to do a lot of events in one day; she likes to be home and play with her toys and be with people she’s familiar with – her family. I knew that I should RSVP “no” to the party, but I didn’t. I listened to the other voices … and a small part of me didn’t want her to miss out on the party.
You can guess the result. Squish really didn’t talk to her classmates at the party. Like, at all, beyond saying “Happy birthday” to the birthday girl. She wanted me to hold her hand while she walked on some rocks outside with the other kids. She didn’t feel like eating any pizza (which she loves). She wanted me to sit next to her while they played the movie “Trolls.” She got fidgety midway through and wanted to sit on my lap … then started to cry during the movie. I still don’t know why. But lemme tell you: I silently cried along with her in that dark little theater.
And I don’t know why I didn’t listen to my mommy instinct yet again and didn’t take her home right then. I knew it was too much for her, that she couldn’t mentally or socially be present at that party. She just didn’t want to be there, even though she didn’t say those words. But I gave her one more chance to stay and enjoy it, and she said she wanted to. And she did, barely.
But she sobbed the entire ride home (all three minutes of it … which felt like 33), spurred on by something small, of course. She just had to get her tears out.
Listen up, mommies: that mommy instinct is there for a reason. You know your child like nobody else, even the father. Chances are you spend the most time with your child, so you can read their emotions and mood better than anyone else – so don’t place another’s opinion about your own.
I should’ve listened to my gut last Saturday and skipped the party. Neither of us had fun, and if I never told her about it, she’d have been none the wiser – but much happier. Next time, I won’t close my ears or my heart to what my mommy instinct is telling me!