Trumped by a toddler

We had gotten to a point where we couldn’t seem to agree on anything anymore. I longed for the time when we were so in sync, just flowing effortlessly through our days in perfect harmony. We were madly in love. Two peas in a pod. Peanut butter and jelly. Bonnie and Clyde. And then… he changed.

If I said left, he went right. If I said yes, he said no. The tears, the angst, the frustration—his and mine—were becoming more common day by day. He could act like a real jerk sometimes. And so I internalized. What was I doing wrong in this relationship? I suggested couples therapy, but he said no to that, too. In fact, he was saying no to everything. I felt defeated. Heartbroken. Were we on the verge of a breakup?

My baby had become a bona fide toddler. No longer my better half, but a whole on his own. He was becoming—gasp—his own person with his own mind and opinions, and not just a mini-me that thoughtlessly absorbed every characteristic and trait I projected on him.

You love Little Einsteins because you yourself are a genius and will be the next Tchaikovsky. Wrong.

You love coloring with non-toxic, egg shaped crayons because you’re artistic and will own your own gallery one day. Wrong.

You love sleeping in and lying in bed on weekend mornings until like 9am. Wrong.

It was like I was debating Trump.

I’m sure we all, as parents, want our children to form a strong identity. To have opinions. To be thought leaders. To be self-confident. And that’s all peachy so long as they don’t pull that sh*t on us at mealtimes, or bedtimes, or story times, or during swim lessons, or music class, which they better freakin’ enjoy because mom and dad had to forego food this week to afford it.

But letting them be them and accepting them as they are, not who we conjured up in our imagination all that time they were baking in our bellies (or even well before that) is essential to helping them grow to be happy, healthy little humans.

There’s a first step to that, though. It starts with accepting ourselves (and good lord, as women, that’s no small task!). We live in a world that demands perfection on every level. We are usually our own worst critics. But that doesn’t serve us. And it does our children no good, either.

So that’s the lesson I probably never would’ve grasped if not for mommyhood. We learn to accept ourselves more easily when the people raising us first accept themselves, and then are able to offer us that same acceptance. When we struggle with ourselves, it’s hard not to struggle with everyone else. Hence the saying that what triggers us most in others is really what bothers us most about ourselves.

I have never examined myself more than I do now—is the person I think I am really the person I’m projecting to the world?  Do I display kindness and tolerance and humility in the world on the daily, or is that girl just a sugar-coated figment of my imagination? I now work harder to be the type of person I want to be for me and for my son. I’ve set my bar a little higher so that perhaps it’s a little easier to like myself when I look in the mirror. I like to think I’m now a kinder, gentler, more grateful woman. But, I’m human. I have flaws and I make mistakes and that’s ok, too. I accept that. At least I try.

Yes, our children are bound to be their own people with their own opinions, likes and dislikes, but their inherent traits and values will surely reflect those who were closest to them. My son’s taught me a lot, and I hope he’ll learn as much (good stuff) from me.

Which gets me thinking… I wonder what Trump’s mom was like…

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