Parents are far from being perfect but I’d like to think that being a parent has made me a better person than I would have been if I didn’t have kids, because having kids somehow makes you want to be better.
Not so much that I’m afraid I’d be caught for misbehaving or doing something bad because as The Mom, I’m the boss of everybody else around here.
No, it’s more than that. It’s because I want them to be better than me and the only way that’s going to happen is if I become the best version of me I can be.
And although I’m sure there’s a level 97 Grand Master version of me that always takes the high road and doesn’t rain terrible curses on bad drivers, that version will not be making an appearance anytime soon so for now, I’m content to occasionally take the high road (like only when I know the kids are watching).
Which is already a marked improvement from the pre-kid version of me who has always taken the road that is considerably lower. I’ve always had little time or patience for people whom I felt deserved what they got. Back in the day, I would have made a fully audible, thinly-veiled criticism of the parents of the brattish kids who were disturbing my dinner. Or tsk-tsked the mom whose 2-year-old was melting into the floor dramatically in public. Or looked at the mom struggling with 3 kids and wondered why she wasn’t introduced to the concept of contraceptives.
Now if there’s one thing being a parent has taught me, it’s how to eat a stinking piece of poop-filled humble pie.
Before I had kids, I thought it was all a piece of cake. I would kick ass at being a mom and show them all how it’s done. My kids wouldn’t be caught dead throwing a tantrum or turning up their noses at food. They would be perfect specimens of little angels who smiled, ate their vegetables and did as they were told.
As it turns out, the moment the kids came into my life, there has been no cake and all I’ve been eating is humble pie. And most of my words.
These days, I’ve learnt to be a lot more understanding and less judgey. I see a mom who’s shoving food into her mouth as her kids sit engrossed watching youtube on the iPhone and I stop myself from passing judgement on what an irresponsible, disinterested mom she is. She might have very well spent the last 12 hours running herself ragged being fully engaged in her kids’ mental, emotional and physical development and all the poor woman is asking for is 10 minutes to eat in peace without being judged by random strangers. So I smile, give her a mental hi-5, gather my kids and get a move on.
I see another mom losing her shit at her kid and I remember how I’ve lost count of the number of times I went ballistic on the kids after a particularly bad day. After each episode, I beat myself up over it enough to not need other parents telling me how I messed up.
When I think of all the things I want to teach the kids as they grow, like how to solve differential equations, and the intricacies of foreign policy, and the works of literary geniuses, there is none more important than the crucial life lesson on how not to be a douche canoe.
And that means that I’ve got to not be one myself.