I want to tell you the truth about motherhood – something that no one really talks about.
There is a common belief that because we as mothers are supposed to love our children unconditionally, we cannot get mad at them, ever. And if we do, than it automatically makes us bad parents.
But that is simply not true.
Today, I would like to tell you about something that happened to me on Mother’s Day, something that I think we don’t talk enough about. Let’s just call it the dark side of motherhood.
There is a common belief that motherhood is all about love, excitement and happiness. A belief that we as mothers should always be kind to our children as it is a way to show them our love.
And don’t get me wrong, I do love my daughter to death.
When somebody asks me if I regret getting married for the first time and if I’d had a chance would I have not married my ex, I always tell them that I don’t regret anything because that first marriage gave me my daughter. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be a mom of a 10-year-old right now. So, I definitely don’t have any regrets. Not a single one. And I do love Dasha to death.
But sometimes I want to punch her (I don’t though!). Sometimes I get mad at her. Sometimes I get very angry.
Way too often, we as mothers refuse to accept those feelings. We don’t give ourselves permission to have those feelings. We believe that if we get angry at our kids, then it means that something is wrong with us.
It means that we are bad parents.
Well, that is NOT true.
The realities of motherhood
Here is what happened last weekend on Mother’s Day.
It was actually my birthday on Friday, May 12th, and then Mother’s Day was on Sunday, May 14th. As usual, we decided to combine the celebration, and instead of doing a Sunday brunch we were planning to have a family lunch on Saturday.
Before that, on Friday, I took a day off, and Kevin also took time off work. We had a great time together, and that morning Kevin got me a big, nice olive tree as a birthday gift.
(I know, what a garden nerd I am haha! Anyone else would’ve asked for a Gucci purse or a piece of jewelry, and I asked for an olive tree!)
So I got my tree, and we were planning on Saturday morning, before going out to lunch, to go to the plant store so that we can pick a planter for my new tree.
Friday was a great day: we had lunch, then we had a family dinner, we celebrated my birthday, I was very happy, it was all great. Then Saturday came, we woke up, and I was very excited about going to the plant store and picking a planter for my new tree.
We love going to that plant store, and every time we go we come home with some new plants. Particularly, Dasha likes to pick some new plants for her room.
And that day was no exception. The moment we got to the store, Dasha immediately screamed, “Hey, let’s go find plants for MY room!”
I told her, “Dasha, this is MY day. We are here to find a planter for MY new tree.”
But she didn’t really care about it. She dragged me to the indoor plant area, and we spent the good 30 minutes looking for the plants for HER room. Once that was done, I said, “Alright, NOW it’s time to go find a planter for my tree.”
But she demanded that now that she got new plants, she needs new planters for them.
And this is when I got MAD.
I felt frustrated. I felt hurt. It was supposed to be MY day. It was supposed to be my gift. We were supposed to come to that store to buy a Mother’s Day and birthday gift for me and instead, all we were doing was picking some stuff for her.
I felt very angry. I felt very mad.
I screamed at Dasha, “No, you don’t understand, you’re being mean ands rude right now! You don’t care about me, you don’t care about my birthday gift! So you won’t get any plants.”
I took the plants that she picked and put them back on the shelf. We ended up not getting anything at the store.
And then we were supposed to have lunch. Well, I can tell you that lunch was pretty much ruined because I was in a terrible mood. I couldn’t get over the feelings of being upset, offended, and hurt.
We did have lunch. But I didn’t enjoy it at all.
What is our main job as parents?
Later in the day, I started to feel a bit better. I wasn’t so angry anymore, but I still felt down and I didn’t feel like hanging out with anybody. I just wanted to be left alone. I felt sorry for myself, to be honest with you.
After dinner, my husband told me that I might have overreacted earlier and that I had been too hard on our daughter. But I was still feeling very emotional, and so I took a defensive position and didn’t really listen to him.
And as I was laying in bed that night, I was thinking about that day. I was thinking about what had happened, when I realized something very clearly.
As parents, we have responsibility. NOT to be the perfect parents, because perfection doesn’t exist.
But we do have responsibility to teach our kids the RIGHT things – teach them what we believe is important in life.
For each one of us that will likely mean something different, and that is totally fine. We just need to know what that is, and to teach it. It is our job.
It is our main job as parents to teach our kids how to be the kind of people they want to be – how to be GOOD people in life.
Give AND receive love
And as I was thinking about it, I clearly realized that, to me, it means teaching love, teaching respect, teaching care, teaching responsibility.
But here’s the caveat.
Often, as moms, we fall into the trap of thinking that teaching love ONLY means giving love. We tend to believe that teaching love means accepting each and every behavior that our kid might express.
But teaching love is also about receiving love. It is about showing our kids how THEY can give their love toward somebody else – their parents, their friends, their future partners.
Of course, we want our kids to feel loved. We want them to be growing in an environment filled with love and care. But we also want them to learn how to show love and care to somebody else.
This is why I felt so hurt, and so angry, and so mad earlier that day – because I felt like Dasha was not showing me her love and care. Love and care that I felt I deserved.
There is nothing wrong with us parents getting emotional, sad or angry. We just need to reflect on that and recognize that it is all about what we want to teach our kids.
When you are angry at your kids, ask yourself (and this is what I asked myself that night),
“Me being mean to my daughter, me raising my voice at her when she does something wrong – does it teach her the RIGHT things?”
And the answer is clearly “no”. Me raising my voice will only teach her that this is the solution to every problem – just scream at somebody when they do something that you don’t like.
That is NOT what I want to teach my daughter.
What I want to teach her is how to notice when the other person feels hurt, how to understand the other person’s feelings, and how to respond.
It was OKAY for me to get angry, and frustrated, and offended when Dasha behaved the way she behaved earlier that day.
It is OKAY to feel those feelings.
It was the way I expressed my feelings that was NOT really okay.
Lead by example
I should have been much better about telling her how I feel without raising my voice or being mean.
We are adults and we have much more self-control than our kids do. So it is up to us to teach them how to control their emotions, and the best way to do it is by being a good example – how to tell the other person that your feelings are hurt is without hurting their feelings in return.
Once I realized that, laying in bed late at night, I felt relieved. I finally wasn’t feeling angry anymore. I was feeling a little bit guilty for getting so emotional early in the day, but I also gave myself permission to do that and I forgave myself for doing that because I’m just a human being, and so are you! We are NOT made out of steel.
Come on, moms! You pretend to be made out of steel, but you aren’t.
We are all real human beings. We have feelings, we have emotions, and that is wonderful. The best thing we can do to ourselves and to our children is to let ourselves express those feelings, but do that in a way that will teach them something good – something that we want them to learn about us, about the world, about how relationships works, and about the kind of person they want to become.
It was a very insightful Mother’s Day for me. That whole experience was very worth it.
And since then, we’ve had very nice time together with my daughter. She has been truly wonderful. I think she understood that she upset me on that day, and so she has been trying to be a very good daughter since then, and I am really thankful that.
And I am also grateful for that day because it helped me become a better mom. Just a tiny bit better, but still.