This post goes out to all of you super-consistent moms. Ladies, you know who you are. Nothing slips through the cracks at your house. Each roll of the eye, throw of the sippy cup and slam of the door gets a talk and a consequence. You pride yourself on how many times you’ve left a cart full of groceries at the store to take your toddler home for some much-needed discipline. And nothing gets your panties in a twist like watching another mom be inconsistent with her kids.
You see, that’s me. I run a tight ship. I value obedience and I’m not afraid to dole out consequences.
But recently I totally gave in. Caved. Let the screaming, misbehaving, disobedient 4yr old get exactly what she wanted. And it was the right thing to do.
Maybe you have a child like this. Since the day she was born, she knew what she wanted and how she wanted it. My disapproval didn’t bother her in the least. People-pleasing was not in her vocabulary. Thankfully, with lots of consistency and (more importantly) love, she is now a truly delightful, mostly obedient child. Seriously, I am crazy about that girl. But. She can still have her moments.
A little backstory. We live on a tight budget. Like seriously tight. Like seven-people-living-on-a-firefighter-income tight. But I wanted the 4 and 3yr old to take swim lessons. So I sold our never-used Step2 climbing thingy and earned the $110 I needed. That’s a lot of money in my world. Do you know how much Target clearance goodness I could buy with $110? But I digress.
So time came for the lessons. I had a bad feeling about this. The moment we arrived at the pool, that precious little 4yr old made a decision. She was not doing this. No way. No how. No sir. For THREE days I drove those children 20 minutes to that pool. And for THREE days she screamed bloody murder. I took away all that she held dear and more. No sir. I gave her consequences. No ma’am. I made her sit there in the hot sun for 30 minutes (heck, I wanted to get in!) No way. She was not going in. Did I mention I paid $110?
We had 6 days left and I had a choice to make. Would I fight it out and prove my point? Would I eventually give out enough consequences that she would relent? This is what “fit” with my style of uber-consistency. But that’s not what I did. Nope. We quit swim lessons. We never went back. I gave her all of her toys back, didn’t follow through on most of my threats. I told her we were done and didn’t even scold or lecture her. And we moved on with our summer, now with 6 unexpectedly free mornings.
And guess what? A few days later she asked to take off her armies in the pool. I said yes and watched in amazement as she swam all the way to the other side and back She has been swimming ever since. Apparently she didn’t need those lessons after all.
But I did need them. Here’s what I learned…
Sometimes the peace in your home and your heart is more important than that small battle you are fighting.
There will be plenty of other chances (plenty) to reign in that girl’s stubborn side. But this was not the time. She is a good girl who was afraid to get in the water with a stranger. This one episode doesn’t mean she’s on a one-way street to a life of crime and drugs. And my choice to give in doesn’t mean I’m on a one-way street to being a terrible mother.
I learned to lighten up, throw in the towel, leave the battle for another day, and maintain peace in my home. And she learned how to swim.