Parenting lesson #29: You will catch yourself in a “Do as I say, not as I do” moment

Quiet and alone.  That’s what I want to be.  It’s just another way that parenthood has changed me.  Four years ago, I scored 100% extroverted on the Myers-Briggs test.  Now I get energized by peace and quiet.  I want to pee alone and I can’t even do that.  This morning, by the time I was shoving food into my mouth, I wanted nothing more than to eat alone.  (It was “one of those mornings.”)  But alas, alone is not my reality.

This morning, Zach finished his blueberries quickly, and began to whine and point at Eliza’s.  Because he still only says about ten words, and blueberries is not one of them, whining and pointing is his main way of communicating exactly what he wants.  She understood immediately, and in a high-pitched voice, said, “Oh, Zach, you want some blueberries?  Okay, here you can have two.”  And she handed them over.  It was a melt-my-heart moment.  She was so loving, so giving, so cute in that instant!  I welled with pride, thinking to myself, “All my work is paying off.  She is turning into someone who wants to give and share.”  I patted myself on the back.

Not 10 minutes later, I was barking at her to occupy herself so I could finally eat something because I was hungry.  I poured myself a meager bowl of Raisin Bran, emptying the bag’s contents and realizing it wasn’t quite the amount I had hoped for.  I added my milk, plopped on the living room couch, and instantly had a visitor.  Eliza jumped beside me, opened her mouth to indicate she wanted some, and said, “Mommy, can I have some?”  And I said, with an attitude, “Eliza, you had your breakfast.  I didn’t get eggs and fruit like you did, I have this cereal.  This is mine.  I’m not going to give you any.”

Whoops.  Instantly my heart sank as I realized how selfish I was being.  I, the one who wants so much to teach my children to put others first and to share what they have, was refusing a bite of bran cereal (BRAN CEREAL!) to my 3-year-old.  And just 10 minutes after I watched her share her coveted blueberries.

I was so embarrassed.  I changed my attitude and said, “You know what?  I’ll share with you.  I’d love to share,” or something like that.  I probably gave her 4 bites of my 15 bites of cereal.  And she said, “We always share our food, right mommy?”  And I said, “Right.”

Getting married really shows you how ugly you can be, but having children magnifies it ten-fold.  When you watch your toddlers pointing their fingers at their friends while yelling at them to do this or that, you realize they learned it from … somewhere.  (Yes, YOU.)  It is humbling and revealing and amazing.  And yes, now that I’m having a quiet and alone moment because both kids are napping, I can see clearly enough to realize this is a good thing.  I know I’ll be ready for the wild and crazy, extroverted afternoon.  It beckons now – Zach just woke up!

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