My kid does this thing where he behaves beautifully in public, when we’re in front of other people.
And when we’re at home, or in the car, especially when I’m the only adult around, he’ll completely break down and fall apart. Worse yet, lately he’s been misbehaving on purpose. Taking things from his sister, doing the opposite of what I’ve asked, throwing things, etc.
Let me be clear – overall, my kid is very well behaved. He’s always been quite mellow, a rule follower, compliant, agreeable. It’s great, he’s great, and I know I’m very lucky. While I’d love to take all the credit for his amazing disposition, I know that he was just partially born that way, and partially due to my (mostly) awesome parenting (plus the much more patience-filled parenting job his dad does).
What sucks, aside from me having to deal with the breakdowns (unintentional) and the defiant threenager behavior (intentional), is that my mommy friends usually just see compliant, agreeable Dudeman. This sets up a dynamic where I don’t feel like there’s room for me to complain about my situation.
It’s the little comments and compliments like, “Wow, he’s so well behaved!” or, “I could never imagine D doing something like that!” There’s a mix of emotions that comes with hearing these. On one hand, the compliments are very nice and very well received. There’s a certain amount of mommy pride that comes with the reputation for having The Good Kid. On the other hand, like I said before, I can’t complain about the bad times and feel like I am being believed because no one ever sees them. It makes me want to wear a GoPro or one of those police body cams so I can catch D-man in action and then play it for my mommy friends.
See?! See THAT?! He was just a total asshole to me!
I guess I just want to feel accepted. I want to be part of the club. I army crawl through the trenches and slog through blood and piss and shit just like y’all. Even if you don’t see it.
And now that I type this, I find myself laughing on the inside because I’ve always thought of myself as one of those moms who didn’t care if she didn’t look put together. At least, I care about sleep more than I care about looking put together…because I’m not. But, with D’s behavior, it’s not like I’m hiding anything. He’s just more likely to behave when he’s being stimulated and is around other fun people and kids, which is when we’re hanging out with the mom friends. It’s when we’re alone and sick or bored or tired or hungry that he’s more likely to push my buttons and test boundaries. Totally normal, I keep reminding myself. (More than normal, even, because he’s testing me because he is safe and loved with me) There’s just a part of me that wants to wear some of that blood and piss and shit on my sleeve as proof that I’ve been to war. Maybe a purple heart would be less smelly.
So obviously I’ve realized that, as a stay at home mom, I want a witness to my suffering and my hard work. It’s like when you want your boss to say, Great job, Janice! (if your name was Janice. If not, that would just be weird), but you’re doing the kind of work that when it’s done right and done well, no one notices. This is why, almost every day when my husband gets home from work, I insist on giving him a detailed play-by-play of my entire day. I need him to hear my struggle, see my pain, congratulate me for getting through it and being such a badass.
And now I’ve come full circle, I’ve realized, to my last post. Because I feel invisible, the work I do is invisible, and my struggles are also invisible, I find myself searching for witnesses. Empathy. Validation.
Can you smell the shit?