Parenting is so hard. How are we to know if we are making the right decisions? How do we know how this decision will impact them forever? Does this mom guilt mean that I’ve made the wrong decision? Did I speak too rough? Did I act too harshly? Is this a day that’ll mark them forever?

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There we were, at the pool. We had arrived a few minutes late because, as always, we were running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off prior to that. And no longer than 6 minutes into our arrival, sister was crying (and screaming) her way across the pool.  Brother had ‘unintentionally’ kicked her in the teeth because she wanted on the pool float too. A couple of things that come to mind when I hear he’s kicked his sister IN THE FACE.  1. Where in the world did you learn that kicking was ok? 2. WHY?! 3. Are her teeth still in her mouth? 4. Can I see blood from this far? Honestly, the comforting of a child while trying to scold the other is a skill I am finding very difficult to perfect.

9 minutes in… my daughter is crying again. This time it’s because she wants a pool float that someone else has. I explain to her that we can all share. They I have to discuss this with her other friends and ask that everyone share… blah blah blah. Broken record. Blah blah blah. At what point in time do the kids just suggest sharing on their own? Appears it doesn’t yet happen at age 6 or 9!

11 minutes in… my son swims over to complain that he is bored. I smirk and blink a few hard blinks his direction and ask what do would like for me to do? I offer up going to get my suit so that I can entertain him, to find something in the lost and found for him to SHARE, and suggest to him to go play pool basketball with his friend who is patiently and independently playing. He doesn’t like my ideas, but rather offers up the idea of going home. So yeah… I lose it. I know on far too many occasions he’s suggested that and immediately regretting it when I say, ‘Ok!’ Which then leads to profuse apologies, and we end up staying—often because I want to be there too. So today? I stood my ground. I will not stand for that kind of ‘call my bluff’ type language any longer.

I get the attention of both my children (who are fighting over a float again) and I give them the dreaded curled finger that is universal for ‘come here please.’ They swim over and I politely and softly ask them to get their towels and shoes, and I will meet them in the car.  We are leaving. I say a few brief goodbyes knowing I’ll send a follow-up text once things get settled, and I walk out. I am immediately followed by my daughter yelling after me, ‘Please Mom, I need to talk to you.’ I respond with, ‘We can talk in the car.’ She continues to yell after me, walking slowly and not understanding why I’m holding ground for maybe one of the first times. I’ve had it. No more.

We return home after giant sobs the entirety of the 2 mile drive, hop out of the car and then I ask them to get their pajamas on, head to their rooms and take a nap.  Begrudgingly, they follow my orders because they can hear and see how mad I really am.  My son comes out after about 15 minutes and tells me he can’t sleep. (My daughter is still sleeping!) Because he truthfully was trying to sleep, I ask that he pick up the play room legos and then he may head back to his room to read or relax until Dad gets home. I am done. I don’t want to see or talk to them for awhile.

A few more minutes pass and he is back in his room so I go up to the playroom to find that NONE of the legos or sets have been picked up. Scissors are everywhere. Craft scraps are scattered about. That was the cherry on top. I walked back downstairs to grab a garbage bag. I am mid-fluff of the bag when my son wanders out (likely because he heard the bag) and asks what I’m doing. I told him that I’m cleaning the way I’ve been wanting to for far too long and I start throwing all of it into the garbage bag. A nerf gun, his lego sets, pencils, eraser tops, craft supplies… all. of. it!

Naturally he begins to cry harder and tells me he’ll pick up. Too late, buddy. It’s my turn now. I send him back to his room and remind him that he is to stay there. He and his sister have been asked a minimum of 389 times to pick-up after themselves. They refuse and I’ve been a pushover for far too long. I proceed to pick up my way and end my session with 2 bulging bags.

So now I sit here and type while he’s outside having a sweaty workout with his father. (It’s better that I type than to start ‘cleaning’ his room.) I’ve covered the 2 bags of playroom ‘garbage’ with compost and bleh so that I wouldn’t budge and go retrieve the things that I know he’s most upset about. And the mom guilt starts to creep in oh so slowly. Was I too harsh? Maybe. Was it over the top? Perhaps. However, I feel zero sense of remorse for attempting to teach him a lesson. It’s the mom guilt of: Did I go too far? Did I go about it the wrong way? How will this effect him negatively in the future? The memory of his tears in my mind crush me. Crush. Me. But I can’t go back. Things are covered in sludge and yuck. Big emotions have been had by all. My only hope is that this horrible, birthday party-missing escapade leads him to pick up after himself. And if not, there is sure to be more mom guilt. Parenting is so hard.

Lo is the Founder + Chief Innovation Officer of Trotting with Tots, a local stroller-toting mama tribe. When not scoping out new trails and neighborhoods to explore with the running group, she spends her time cooking up random vegan concoctions, inflicting pain on friends with her waxing skills, putzing around on her Cricut machine, inventing some new house project for her husband, and/or drinking wine while watching the latest episode of Intervention. Lo is married to her very own Magic Mike, whom she met on an airplane, and is lackey Mom to two munchkins (Gage + Gemma), and an allergy-ridden pup (Killian). She loves the color yellow, the sound of high heels on asphalt and gargantuan wind chimes.


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