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We must be doing something right

Yesterday as I was cleaning up after breakfast, Luca said something to me that just threw me off. He left me confused and very unsure of how I was feeling. Out of nowhere, one Sunday morning, Luca said: “Mom, I want to go to school”.

I think I just blacked out for a second when I heard that shocking comment, and for many good reasons too. Not long ago, we struggled with taking Luca to school. When he was at daycare, there was no way I could drop him off because my husband and I knew it would not end well. And even though it was a little easier for my husband, there were tears on too many occasions. When he started school a couple of months before his third birthday, it was just a nightmare for all of us. He cried every single day when I dropped him off. I could always hear him screaming as I made my way across the school yard to get to my car, and oftentimes I would also cry on my way to work.

Whenever we had to deal with Luca’s strong resistance to school and daycare in the past, we always said to ourselves that we must be doing something right at home, and that’s why he wants to be with us so bad. We would watch the other children walk away from their parents without even looking back and wonder what it was that made it so easy for them to just let go. The owner of the nursery that Luca went to once pointed to a tiny little girl and told us that from the first day her parents dropped her off, she never cried, complained, or even looked back to wave goodbye, and she added that the environment at the nursery must be a lot more pleasant to her than what she was getting at home, assuming that she wasn’t getting any attention from her parents. Maybe she was right, or maybe she was just trying to make us feel better about Luca’s impossible tantrums, but we just held on to that thought and used it to reassure ourselves every single time, that we were just fantastic parents!

And now, on a Sunday morning, my son would rather be at school than at home with me. I couldn’t see the dishes anymore; I couldn’t feel the water on my hands; I couldn’t hear the baby whining on the floor. My mind was so flooded with wonder and worry that I just couldn’t think straight anymore. At what point did I become such a lousy parent? When did I become so uninteresting? Have I become too consumed with housework that I have neglected my child? I must be doing something wrong!

When I regained consciousness I asked Luca why he wanted to go to school on a weekend, and he said that he wanted to play with his friends. Okay, that’s a legitimate reason. I can understand that. Of course I’m thrilled that Luca actually enjoys school now and loves to play with kids his age! I have been dreaming of this day! So why did I feel so bad at the same time?

I thought about what had happened the whole day while we were out with the kids and I wondered why we do this to ourselves. We try so hard to make our kids happy, and then just one little thing can make us feel guilty about not having done enough. I know so many moms like this, moms who do everything for their kids, moms who don’t give themselves a break, moms who feel guilty all the time! We are so good at not only labeling and blaming others, but also at labeling and blaming ourselves. No matter how much we do and give, it’s never enough. The slightest thing can make it all go away. And in the same way we feel compelled to point out other parents’ failures to reassure ourselves that we’re doing our jobs properly. Why did Luca’s desire to be with his friends on the weekend have to mean that I wasn’t doing a good enough job? Why can’t it just mean that he was growing up, that he was becoming more sociable, that he just wanted to be with other kids? Kids grow up, that’s what they do, and they need you less and less. It’s the natural way of things. And why did that little girl’s strength and independence have to mean her parents were neglecting her, other than to give us a little ego boost? We watch our little ones grow into happy, healthy, bright young kids, and yet we still question our parenting abilities. Yes, sometimes we get caught up in our everyday tasks; sometimes we’re fed up; sometimes we just need a break. But we’re only human. And as long as we’re doing our best and our kids are growing up with smiles on their little faces, I don’t think we need to be so hard on ourselves.

So we didn’t end up taking Luca to school that Sunday. But at the end of a pretty fun day, as we were driving back home, Luca looked at me and said: “Mommy, I had a really good time today!” So yeah, we must be doing something right.

Enjoying time with other kids

Enjoying time with other kids

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