Let's look at two moms that I've seen recently. I don't know them. They are strangers to me, but they show me motherhood through a glimpse.
Mom #1: I've seen this mother at church. The dad isn't there (in all fairness Hubs doesn't come either like many dads). She struggles during Mass with two boys. She whispers harshly in what I assume is Polish (but I could be wrong). Sunday after Mass, I put HB in his carseat. I got into the car and as I got into the car I viewed a display. The mother was putting her children into the car. They had paper sacks of what appeared to be lunch. She was yelling at the children in Polish. She grabbed the oldest boy and he began to cry. She let him go to retrieve an orange. He grabbed his arm as though she had hurt him. Then she grabbed him again and forced him into the back seat still crying. She dealt with the youngest child, opened up the other car door, and yelled at her oldest again in Polish. I stopped watching. It was too hard for me to watch.
Mom #2: HB and I went to the park today. I was swinging in a swing and he was in my lap. There was some sort of group there today. One of the girls was wielding a shovel and her friend wanted it. The shovel wielder's mom stepped in and told her that she was concerned that she was going to hurt her friend. She asked her to hand her the shovel in a very calm manner. The shovel girl burst into tears and immediately said she was sorry. The mom said that she wanted the shovel anyway and said that the shovel girl could hand it to her or she would take it from her. She handed the shovel over. Then the mom and shovel girl went for a walk. The crying stopped.
It was a revelation to me of how I want to parent. Here are two situations and here were two different ways to handle getting an item from a child. I can either be like Mom #1 and yell and grab and sent my kid into crying or I can ask for the item and be handed it back. I can get angry or I can handle it calmly. I can embarrass my child in the church parking lot or I can draw him/her aside and keep their dignity in tact. I'm not saying that I'm the most perfect parent in the world. Nobody is. But both moms held up a mirror and showed me what kind of parent I want to be.
HB is reaching the age where disciplinary measures have to be taken. He grabs something dangerous; he tries to walk out into the street. I usually redirect him to something else. As I told Hubby, we can snatch away the dangerous item or we can "trade" him for something better. (Although the severity of danger must be taken into account. A knife must automatically be removed. A child-proof bottle of tylenol with the lid secured can be traded.) The idea is to teach him that we don't snatch things from people. We ask for things or exchange things like Mom #2 did. Similarly, the running into the street can turn into a spanking session or me simply removing him (with kicking and screaming, which he does) and bringing him to a more centered part of the park away from the street so he can roam. Eventually when he's older, we'll talk about why going out into the street unless we're crossing it together is a big no no.
I want to be like Mom #2. I want to be a gentle disciplinarian. I want to not embarrass my child but preserve his dignity. I want to teach him and I want him to be receptive not angry or upset.
I want to be like Mom #2. Thanks be to God who can show me a good role model even from a stranger in the park.