As far as I’m concerned, my mother has always been the gold standard of parenting. She has endless patience, inspired creativity, and a perpetual sparkle in her green eyes. Even though we might not agree on things like how much candy is too much for a four-year-old (my answer: any and all candy because he loses his fool mind), I still hold her up as a model of the best of what motherhood can be.
This all makes it really easy to explain that the reason I turn into such a useless sack of personcloth when I’m around her with my kids is because I’m simply observing her fine mothering form. I’m sitting here taking notes and absolutely not just being a total slacker because someone else is there to take care of my kids. Why would anyone even think that?!
Truthfully, being around my parents (especially over the holidays) always makes me feel the following things:
1. I feel lazy as all get-out, because when the grandparents are around, I tend to sit back and take full advantage of the opportunity to relax on the couch instead of play Chutes and Ladders for the three frillionth time;
2. I feel thankful to have had such great parenting role models; and
3. I feel sad that we live almost a thousand miles away and only get to see them a few times a year.
Points 2 and 3 are easy things to talk about, but I haven’t heard a lot of other people share experiences similar to mine on Point 1. Maybe it’s that I’m overly aware of how I parent in front of mine because we see each other so infrequently. Or maybe it’s that I feel like a schlub when they come visit and I eventually realize I haven’t wiped any butts besides my own for days because someone else has taken over that particularly delightful parenting chore.
Tell me: When you parent in front of your parents, how does it go? Do you feel the need to prove yourself—to be supermom, the shining beacon of put-togetherness who has everything under control? Or do you, like me, become the world’s laziest parent because someone else is available to build block castles for three hours straight, meaning you can finally sit back with a book and enjoy what it feels like to be “off the clock” from your 24/7 parenthood gig? When you watch your parents with your kids, do you become the student—asking a million questions and relying on their advice—or do you become the police officer, regulating intake of cookies and television so as not to exceed the AAP’s recommended allowance?
If you’re planning to spend time with your parents (or maybe your spouse’s parents) this holiday season, are you looking forward to it or dreading it? (It’s okay, your secret’s safe with me.)