“I’ll never say/do that.” That’s what we tell ourselves anyway. We remember all too clearly our parents’ long lectures, the reminders to “sit like a lady” and how we clucked our tongues at other moms who let Baby Einstein or Dora the Explorer entertain their kids for fifteen minutes. We would. be. Different. But somehow, we end up saying or doing some of the stuff we vowed we’d never say or do.
Truth is, I really couldn’t divulge what I was really thinking. Like the fact that in GeeGee’s nearly ten years, I’ve said some things – rather some things seemed to have fallen out of my mouth that would earn a quick visit from Child Protective Services. Like…
You’re gonna change your clothes in the car. Followed up with instructions to “Just sit there and take off your pants, slide the other ones on, then sit on the floor and change your top. It’ll be fine.” As if that made everything okay. But really, there’s nothing quite like having to get to an activity that’s a half-hour away in the middle of rush hour traffic when you’ve only got ten minutes to get there to make those infamous words tumble from your lips.
Go outside and look at the sun! Yes, GeeGee, go and ruin your eyes because I’m running late (anyone notice a theme, here?) with dinner and I don’t want you to miss the solar event because of me. Of course, I wasn’t encouraging her to look at the eclipse without protection – Jamie had dug up a welder’s mask and that’s what they used, but I did wonder what the neighbors must have thought when they heard me bellowing that through our house.
Then there was this classic:
Ask your father. Sure it’s wasn’t CPS-worthy, but it was an uncomfortably June Cleaver-like thing to say. That seemingly demure statement always represented the equivalent of “I have no power or authority, and your dad is much smarter, so go ask him.”
Of course, I naively thought that before I was actually one half of a parenting duo.
Which was before I was trying to balance a full-time job with full-time mom-ing and full-time wife-ing.
Which was before I had to make a conscious effort to carve out a time and space devoid of decision-making.
But there I was, still in work clothes two hours after arriving home, an hour after dinner was done and thirty minutes after the first load of laundry was in the wash and fifteen minutes after I read the school newsletter: GeeGee asked if she could have extra computer time. At that moment, this simple, not-the-end-of-the-world request overloaded my brain. Before I knew it, I had channeled my inner June Cleaver and let Ward give the verdict.
The thing I’m learning about parenthood is this: there are a lot of things we promise ourselves we’ll never do, like harming our kids physically and emotionally. And we stick to those promises. The other vows – doing and saying things that make us look a little loopy, well…those vows can be a little less, um..stickable.
So the next time you see or hear a mom or dad saying or doing something that makes you chuckle or “tsk-tsk,” remember: it’s only a matter of time before you’ll find yourself saying “Did I just say that?”