We had family visit us in Dallas a few weeks ago. My siblings are my best friends and so family time to me is always a good time.
We tried to do quite a bit while they were here. One of the days, my toddler decided to go on strike, I swear! It was like every decision was a tantrum. Not a small one either… I’m talkin screaming, kicking, throwing your head back kind of tantrums. Did I mention the kind of screams that would shake your ear drums and set off all the car alarms in a parking lot? Yup. Those kind. It wasn’t pretty. I was ready to throw some tantrums myself.
So after the 80th meltdown in one morning and after losing every battle, I mumbled to my child, “Quit being such a brat!”
I’m glad I had my mom close because she taught me a lesson that I want to always remember.
Immediately she said, “Don’t call him that, or he’ll end up being one because you told him that’s what he is.” (Cue in the mom guilt)
How true is that though?
I can honestly say that growing up my mom was the best at being a mom. She knew how to be our best friend but also knew how to be a parent at the same time. I always thought she was “strict” growing up, but now I look back and realize she was setting boundaries and those boundaries helped shape who I am as well as build security for me.
I remember being about 6 years old and I would stand in front of my mom in the bathroom while she slicked back my hair in a pony tail and tie a ball in it. (Ha! Remember those!?) Every single time she would look at my eyes through the mirror and say, “Do you know how beautiful you are?” (I’m sure my flower bangs were quite the attraction but she was talking deeper than just outer beauty.) I would always give a no-tooth smile back, semi-believe her, and say, “Yes”. If my answer wasn’t convincing, she would ask again and tell me how beautiful I was until I believed it.
I didn’t realize how much that really meant to me until I was in middle school and dealt with mean girls who would make fun of my clothes I wore. Or when I was in a nasty relationship with an immature boy in college, or when people on the internet who don’t even know me leave rude comments on my blog about the way I parent.
My mom shaped me to who I am and no one can change that. I fall back on what my mom taught me as a 6 year old because she instilled in me who I was before I even knew who I was.
I once learned in a child development class that the years 1-4 of someone’s life is what shapes their self-esteem for the rest of their life. And now that I’m a mom I feel the weight of that on my shoulders. As a mom I need to tell my kids how great they are and build them up right now so that when the world gets cruel they’ll remember who they really are.
And it won’t be a brat!