You may have heard of the *study published in 2015 that found kids are “800 per cent worse” for their mothers. It found that children as young as eight-months-old could be playing happily, but upon seeing their mother they were 99.9% more likely to begin crying, release their bowels, or need her immediate attention.
While this study was obviously a fake, the observations about child behaviour where bang on. Some psychologists have even shared clues as to why this phenomenon seems so relatable for so many families. Upon reading some of these articles I noticed that my parenting style bares a striking resemblance to the toddlers within the fake study. So I took the liberty of noting these similarities.
Please tell me I’m not alone.
•A need for attention!
Just like your unruly toddler, who will suddenly throw down an epic tantrum the second you get on the phone, this mama is thirsting for attention. I haven’t had an adult conversation for days (maybe even weeks) so I’m gonna do whatever it takes. I’m hoping that you might turn your eyes in my direction. Or at least roll them. I don’t even care at this point. There’s a good chance I’m gonna get loud, and if that doesn’t work there’s always the possibility I will stop my feet and start having a little tantrum of my own. Someone please, just put me to bed.
•Testing the limits.
There seem to be a lot of parenting rules these days. The way we feed, raise, carry, dress and let our children play or sleep are now major points of judgement in the parenting world. I can’t keep it all straight. But I find myself overwhelmed, and anxious by all of the things each sect says I’m not aloud to do. Although privately, I know I’m just doing my best to raise a well balanced human, I’m always pushing the playground boundaries. I’m not terribly rebellious, but these rules seem so inconsistent. At this point, I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to get it right anyway. So if anyone needs me, I’ll be sitting looking somewhat sullen on my phone, and sharing some kind of processed snack with the kid.
From the moment that baby was placed in my arms I knew I was in big trouble. I am not one of those people that ran around tooting their own horn and saying what a great parent they were going to be. I’ve always been afraid of newborns, they can smell my fear. And that fear is tripled when I have an audience. I’m afraid my social skills are questionable at the best of times. And awkward is kinda my specialty. I’m nervous and embarrassed parenting in public because you’ll probably realize I suck. So if I muster up the courage to parade this train wreck, just show me a bit of understanding.
I love my kids. I’m actually really sad when I feel like we aren’t getting enough quality time. BUT, I’m also an introvert. I like having the space to think, I value periods of silence. I long for deeper conversations than our normal, albeit hilarious poop and fart talks.
And yet on the rare occasion I can steal myself away, all I can do is ramble on awkwardly about how irritating the kid can be. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but he’s obsessed with me.
•Can’t seem to control emotions
Okay surely others can relate to this. I’ve had to hold it together for a long time. I’ve likely had a host of positive emotions but I’ve also been lonely, bored or frustrated. I seem able to hold it together when I’m by myself, because after all, I realize there will be no search and rescue teams coming to help me. If we’re going to survive it’s all up to me.
So chances are if I’m even remotely comfortable with you, you may find me overreacting to everything. This is a cry for help. I need a time out.
•Underlying mental health issues.
Obviously this is a much more sensitive issue. Underlying mental health issues can definitely affect our moods. I’ve had anxiety all of my life. I’m generally scared to do most things, and I spend a lot of time fighting my brain. I don’t know why but my brain just loves to replay conversations or crazy scenarios over and over in my mind. Thankfully over the years I’ve managed to find ways to cope, and I rarely let it stop me from doing what I want to do. I have a ridiculous sense of humour and thankfully I can usually turn it on to get through most situations. I really push myself not to let fear stop me. However, a lot of that gets thrown out the window when it comes to my dear boys. I’ve often said that becoming a parent was like that scene in “The Grinch,” where his heart suddenly grows three sizes too big. This big love has my brain working overtime, imagining all of the ways I could possibly lose it.
If we’re on some fun little outing with our kids, while you are enjoying seeing them play wild and free in nature, I am imagining all of the ways a person can fall and die. It doesn’t help that I’ve been blessed with boys whom rarely show concern for their own personal safety. So if my mood starts to shift into the controlling, and cranky helicopter parent zone, know it’s not because I hate seeing kids enjoying themselves. I’m still learning my triggers and how to cope with these over-reactive responses to horseplay. The point is, the emotions I show are just the tip of the iceberg in regards to what is going on in my mind. Like a small child you might be able to distract me, but it’s something I that probably requires extra help at times. If I find it’s affecting my decisions I know it’s time to reach out. For me that means talking therapies, but I have taken anxiety medications in the past and certainly wouldn’t rule it out. Maybe just ask if I’m ok? I may not be.
Ultimately though the real reason my parenting becomes 800% worse around you, is probably because you make me feel safe in someway. Maybe something in you tells me I can put my guard down. I know that with you I can let it all go, my tears, emotions,————bowels, whatever. And if you’re brave enough to stick around I’ll know you’re someone that I don’t have to hide all of my idiosyncrasies from. I’m not trying to use you as a garbage disposal for my feelings, I just need someone to lean on through this season of life. I’m overwhelmed and feeling the pressure of wanting to raise a good human being, but terrified that I’m going to fuck it all up. Just like the little people, when I start to display these behaviour issues, I hope you realize I don’t need you to scold me. I am probably already ashamed of my behaviour, and considering never leaving the house again. What I do need though is a soft place to land, some encouragement, maybe a hug, but mostly a friend.