“Mommies are always right,” I heard my five-year-old say from the back row of our minivan. He was talking to his older brother sitting next to him, and although I liked the sound of it, I wondered what that was about.
“Mommy said I’d have a better day today, and I did.”
Ah, now I knew what he was talking about. See, the day before he’d had a bad day at school. Something had happened with a friend on the playground and his teacher had called him out for doing something he wasn’t supposed to. It had been a bad day in a kid’s book.
“I’m sorry you had a bad day. Sometimes we have good days and sometimes not as good days. I’m sure you’ll have a better day tomorrow,” I’d told him.
Well, it turned out he did have a better day and wanted to tell his brother about it.
Mommies are always right.
This got me thinking… Am I always right?
I thought back to a time when I had been right. My daughter was taking swim lessons when she was six. She was terrified at having to learn. I was more terrified something worse would happen if she didn’t. Tears filled her eyes before the first lesson.
“Mommy, I can’t do this. Please don’t make me do it.” We’ve all faced situations like this with our children. They don’t want to do something. They’re afraid. And it’s legitimate sometimes. Still, we know pushing them is the best thing. This was one of those times.
“Yes, you can. You can do it. And you better get in that water now.” Sometimes acting a little upset helps, too, doesn’t it? As painful as it was to watch her struggle the first few times, within the week she was not only confident in the water, she was actually having fun! Who’d have known?!
Mommies are always right.
Except when we’re not. I’m not always right. I’m actually wrong a lot. And I like to admit that so my kids know it’s OK not to be perfect. I often forget which of my kids likes what. When you have three, it’s easy to get confused. Who likes mayo? Who likes Ranch? Who likes it dry? Vanilla ice cream? Chocolate? Sprinkles or no sprinkles? I get it right most of the time, but I do mess it up sometimes. I’m not perfect.
A few weeks ago my son was in so much pain the only possible explanation in my mind was appendicitis…or something way worse. What else could cause him so much pain? Like any good mom would, I rushed him to the ER. As we waited, I feared for the worst.
Would you believe a child can scream bloody murder and writhe in pain because he has hard poop? Poop?! I couldn’t believe it either. I was wrong! I was wrong about appendicitis. I was wrong about something worse. That, my friends, was a very expensive mistake. A $1200 one, to be exact.
So, mommies are not always right.
Sometimes I go into a parenting situation not knowing whether I’m right or wrong. I went into an especially tough one when we decided to move our kids to a new school. We knew our son would do OK in first grade, but I was not so sure about my daughter. She was going into fourth and had been at her previous school since Kinder. She would be leaving behind everything she knew. That’s a tough thing for a kid.
To add to the mix, we found out her teacher was a man, and none of the friends she knew at her new school would be in her class. Double bummer. As the first day approached, my girl became quieter. Things that normally made her happy weren’t cutting it anymore. She was nervous and scared.
Without getting terribly specific, I’ll tell you the next eight weeks were hard. Oh. My. Goodness, were they hard! She cried every morning. She begged to stay home. She even woke herself up and cried in the middle of the night. Did I mention it was hard? It was hard for her of course, but hard for me, too. I hated seeing my nine-year-old struggle. I questioned whether we had done the right thing. Did we make a mistake by sending her here? Should we try to send her back to her old school? I’d been so sure before, but seeing her struggle was starting to break me, too.
One morning I thought my daughter needed a pep talk. Moms are supposed to encourage their kids and help them through the tough stuff, so I was going to give it my best shot. I looked into her teary eyes and said, “You are a strong, brave girl. I know this is new and scary, BUT you can do this. I want you to do three things for me. If you do them and still don’t like school we can talk about something different, OK?”
She reluctantly nodded.
“OK. Thank you. Number one, I want you to give this school a fair chance. Number two, I want you to have a good attitude. And, number three, I want you to do your best. Those are all easy things you can do. I know you can. I believe in you.”
So that became our daily pep talk. Give it a fair chance. Have a good attitude. Do your best.
After about six weeks, mornings got easier. Maybe she didn’t feel so lost anymore. She made some friends and got to see that her teacher was a really nice, funny guy. She even came home talking about some of the things she was learning. Things were turning around. Slowly, my girl was returning. She smiled again. The sparkle in her eyes was coming back.
Looking back now, I’m so glad we stuck with it, and it had nothing to do with being right. Pushing her to be diligent and stay positive when something was hard paid off after eight long, hard weeks. That is a lesson she will carry her whole life.
Today if you ask my daughter she will tell you she loves her new school. Given the choice between the two, she would choose to stay where she is. She actually thanked me for forcing her to go. As a parent there is no better feeling than hearing your child thank you for something you’ve done for them. Especially after seeing how much they struggled through it.
So, I guess mommies are always right.
The thing is, I don’t really care about being right. What matters to me is what is best for my kids. I hated to see my daughter struggle, but I love what she learned from it. She learned to follow through with something even when it was hard. She learned to give things a fair chance and do her best. And she learned to trust me. Now she understands that I will always have her best interest at heart. Sure, it feels nice to know I’m right, but ultimately I want my kids to thrive. I don’t know if I’ll always be right. I’ll continue to pray for wisdom and hope for the best every single time. After all, this parenting thing doesn’t come with a rule book. We’re all in the same boat, figuring it out as we go.