"Mom, can I have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?" My son Des looks at up at me.
"Sure!" As I smear some sugar-laden peanut butter on white bread, I second-guess my decision. Shit, I shouldn't have agreed, I think as I watch him snarf it down. I have some perfectly good baked salmon that I could have insisted he eat.
"Mom, can I watch one more Ninjago?"
"But you've already watched three episodes. No more."
"Awww, please mom? Please?"
I think about all the things I could do that don't require me to have face time with my son -- washing dishes, writing emails, having a cup of tea without any other person touching me -- and choose to let him watch yet another episode, feeling like a huge pushover.
I freeze. I change the subject. "So, how about that scene in Ninjago where Nya learns to control water? That was pretty cool, right?" I hurriedly put on his school jacket and hat and rush him out the door, blabbering about Ninjago and Legos and completely ignoring the fact that my kid is uncomfortable at his new Japanese school.
One whole week after Des started Japanese school, he came home beaming, talking about how much he loves his new school and his new friends Mahiro and Yuzuki. I realized that all of the time spent agonizing over this or that and worrying about what may or may not happen in the future kept me from building up my confidence and self-esteem as a mother. I think about my own mother. She is 6 feet of pure energy, exuberance, and confidence.
"Mom! You smoked while you were pregnant with me? Jeez...I could've been smarter, taller, had a more robust immune system!" I once exclaimed when she was talking about her own pregnancy.
My mom tilted her head back and laughed. "You came out just fine!"
And I did, despite all the cigarette-smoking, late-night Salsa dancing, foul-mouthed things my mom said and did. I'm fine.
Being a parent is hard effing work. Do take the time to be kind to yourself, to allow yourself the space to feel good about giving your kid shitty food once in a while and letting him watch TV all day in his pajamas without brushing his teeth. Perfection isn't good parenting; it teaches your kids that not being perfect equals failure. When you do what you can to make it through day in and day out, your kids learn from you how to make hard decisions and deal with the aftermath with grace and, hopefully, a bit of humor. But yeah, I'm never going to force him to floss. Ain't no MOTY got time for that.