My home is bugged—by toddlers. It’s easy to forget, because like most mothers, I’m exhausted from everyday kiddo demands by the time evening hits. Cooking dinner with a 20 lb. baby in one arm while my toddler tries to pull my pants down, threatens to fry my last ounce of civility.
But amidst our homes’ seemingly constant state of disaster, our kids are listening, watching, and often replicating us in hilarious ways.
“My back hurts”, “I need to nurse my baby”, and “when you were little you were in my belly” are all common quotes from my daughter. When I asked her to help me vacuum the other day, by picking up toys off the floor, she responded: “No thank you Momma. I know you can do it, if you keep trying. Say ‘I think I can!'”
But some of the ways they imitate us are not so hilarious. I have started to catch snippets of my “mommy voice” coming through my toddler during interactions with her baby brother. My germ-phobia results in my daughter flipping out when she has a bit of hummus on her hands halfway through lunch. This is why I call other drivers names and why everything questionable I do is definitely my parents’ fault.
This is also why I had the audacity to ask my husband to thank me for dinner. Many nights he did, but on the ones he forgot (which is not because he is unappreciative but because the cacophony of toddler-baby-constant-noise drowns out normal thought processing), I whispered to him “umm… can you thank me for dinner?”
I explained that I want our kids to learn how and when to say “thank you”. He agreed wholeheartedly, and when he cooks, I make stronger effort to express my thanks too. The silver lining is that we both feel a bit more appreciated (something that is hard to obtain in this stage of life… but that’s a whole other post!).
My husband and I began to realize other ways that we were implementing the old “do as I say, not as I do” adage. We would push my daughter to say “please” and “thank you” for everything, but “hey, can you get me a fork?” and “can I get some of those potatoes?” is how we spoke to each other. After six years of marriage, two children, and just life in general, the “please” and “thank you’s” fell through the cracks. When we opened our eyes to the small things we do that we don’t want replicated, it felt like a downpour of necessary changes were upon us.
Parenting is a burdensome and tiring experience, but no other position has equal power to influence another human being. We need a strong dose of grace since the job is about as easy as running a marathon without training. But I’ve decided that a few moments of examining myself is a worthy investment; especially while my kids still think I’m cool enough to “do what I do”. I’m slightly tempted take up dusting. But only slightly.
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