Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Another Mother

Most of the time, parenthood feels like one of the most difficult jobs in the world, yet it definitely feels rewarding at the end of the day. Everything we do, it's for the kids. Even when they're not around, whether Xander is at school or if they're sleeping, we are thinking about them, trying to come up with ways to make their lives better in some way. What do we want in return? Well, we want our kids to turn out well. We don't want to do anything that we think may scar them, or that will make them an unhappy person. Mostly, we want to know that despite all we've been through together, they still love us and are glad that we are their parents.

These musings, of course, lead me to an entertaining story. The reason I was thinking about all this parenthood stuff was because of what happened while I was driving Xander into preschool this morning. We were chatting, and he started asking questions about why Daddy and I don't live with our parents anymore. I was explaining how, eventually, people grow up and want to live on their own, or with their husband or wife, and how it's a totally natural thing. I felt like mentioning the natural part, since he was starting to get sad about the prospect of himself growing up and moving on. Just when I thought he might say something heartwarming about how much he would miss Momma and Daddy when he moved out of our house, he drops another, completely unexpected bombshell. "Well, I wish I had another Momma." The radio was playing, and it's always somewhat difficult to hear him talk since he sits directly behind the driver's seat, so I asked him to repeat himself. Surely I had heard wrong. "I didn't want you for a mom. I wanted another girl to be my mom. But it didn't happen," Xander said. I was incredulous. He's only three years old; I wasn't expecting such a statement to come out of his mouth until he was at least 11 or 12! It's too soon for him to hate me.

Not entirely knowing how to handle the situation, I asked him to explain himself further. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, I don't know. He elaborated, but he didn't really say anything I wanted to hear. He mentioned wishing for a different mom and something about how before he was born he had hoped I would be somebody else, or something like that. Whatever he said, I know it wasn't pleasant. So I tried to recover as best I could, and started a speech about hurting people's feelings when we say stuff like this. I explained that it hurts Mommy's feelings when he says this, and I asked him to put himself in my shoes for a minute. He didn't like that too much. I hope it made sense to him, that Mommy has feelings too and that he is able to hurt them, but I can't be sure it sunk in. It was an interesting situation, and one I wasn't prepared for.

That's like so many things when it comes to parenting though. You're suddenly faced with a new and unusual scenario, and you need to think on your toes. If you don't, the kid sure knows that he threw you for a loop! Then you're in trouble, because he can use that "weakness" to his advantage. It's kind of like sharks, and how they can smell fear. Kids totally smell the fear and uncertainty. The best thing to do sometimes is to wing your way through, and sometimes I find it's better to just tell Xander that I need "time" to think things over. If he does or says something and I just don't know how to respond, he needs to give me time. It works wonders, too, usually. If all else fails, there's always the patented "Daddy and I need to talk this over and decide how to handle this" speech. It never hurts to have a second opinion!

I'm over the other mother thing by now, and I know he's young and doesn't really mean it the way it could be taken. But it's always going to feel lousy when your child says something hurtful to you, no matter what. All I have to say is that if he keeps saying stuff like that to us, we'll be more than ready to handle him as a teenager!

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