Becoming a mom almost three years ago transformed me into one of the most neurotic, nail-biting versions of myself. Because children are seen as a reflection of their parents, naturally I want my son to be well-behaved, brilliant, articulate and most of all, potty-trained. Like me.
My greatest fear is that I will ruin him, somehow, some way. Or worse, that my parenting skills just can’t hack it, and I don’t have what it takes to raise a functional, healthy member of society. I use a selection of arbitrary variables to judge my progress, such as number of times per day the child ate junk cereal, ratio of vegetables to cookies, hours spent in yard playing to hours spent watching TV. And to seal the fear paralysis, I also include things out of my control, such as: frequency of sickness, units of bodily fluid emitted in inappropriate places, and propensity to consume or contact gross things.
I need a new system.
The following list is compiled from moments in my day, or week, when I know for sure he’s ruined. Because I ruined him. My ignorance or inadequacy finally manifested. The secret is out: I have no idea what I’m doing. Even if just a few minutes ago, he was counting and playing so nicely, and I was a perfect parent from the magazines. Maybe you can relate.
I’m sure my kid is ruined when:
1. The first thing he says when he wakes up in the morning is “cookie?”
2. He watched three hours of public television on the iPad because I was too pregnant to live.
3. We put him to bed at 9, but he plays in the pitch black, yells “help” under the door, and doesn’t fall asleep until 11.
4. There are bite marks in all his foam building blocks.
5. He slurps his filthy bath water when we’re not looking and takes sips from the dog pool too.
6. When we use a public restroom, he makes sure to touch everything, including the toilet and the floor.
7. Some nights he will only eat his dinner with dessert bribes.
8. When he’s watching TV, his ears stop working. We have to clap, dance and shout to get his attention.
9. When it comes to dining, he turns into a shark, always moving. He stands, sits, lays down in his chair, runs off with his food and must be cajoled or carried back.
10. I think he might be better friends with Curious George and Daniel Tiger than he is with real human children.
11. Potty training in a weekend turned into potty training some time before high school.
The truth is I don’t think I will ruin him. But sometimes I’m still afraid his antics will prove to everyone can see I’m such a rookie at this mom gig. But because he’s so awesome and resilient and bright, he will be okay in spite of me. Someone once told me, and I think it’s true, “You’re probably not a bad parent if you’re worried about being a bad parent because bad parents don’t feel bad about their parenting.” Right.
So as long as we are trying out here, as long as we care, grow, evolve as moms and dads alongside our kids, I think we are going to be alright. Don’t you?
When are you worried you’ve ruined your kids? Share in the comments below.