Thank You, Captain Obvious: A Lesson in Humility

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I had one of THOSE parenting days recently. You know what I’m talking about. A parenting day that you’re not proud of. A day when you’re convinced that one (or more) of your kids is actually wiser than you are. It truly wasn’t a terrible day, per se. There were no crises; there were no massive injuries. But I was irritable and short-tempered. I was tired of my (woefully inadequate) attempts at housekeeping being immediately destroyed. I was OVER IT.

Walking into my toddler’s room, I found a floor that had been creatively decorated in diapers, freshly delivered from Amazon Prime. The entire box. A two-month supply. As I cursed myself for even opening the box, and then abandoning it, I tripped over my oldest child’s shoes for what felt like the seventeenth time that week. She has a habit of leaving them in a trail, in the middle of hallways, seemingly removing them mid-step. I cannot for the life of me understand it. Shortly thereafter, my middle somehow dumped an entire bowl of cereal and milk on the floor. Twice. 

I may have lost my temper. I raised my voice and said something to the effect of “Why are you all so set on messing everything up??” My oldest looked at me with her doe eyes and innocently asked if I was lumping all three kids together. I blurted out, “Yes I’m lumping you together! You leave your shoes all over the place, you can’t keep your cereal in your bowl, and you throw diapers everywhere!” while looking at and scolding each individual child.

My oldest replied, “I really don’t like being lumped together.” FULL STOP.

This was immediately followed by an internal dialogue of, omigosh, what did I just do?!? What is wrong with me?!? How often do I do that?? How often do I see my children as “my children” rather than seeing them as the individual, developing human beings that they are? I remember the words “Thank you, Captain Obvious” running through my head, but they weren’t directed at my daughter. They were directed at myself. 

The clarity of her words was jarring. How did I miss that? Don’t we ALL hate being lumped together? We are so often labeled according to our religious affiliation, our political affiliation, or our real or perceived social class. We might be called a “crunchy” mama or a “helicopter” mama. Or perhaps we are classified by our parenting decisions…homeschooling or public or private schooling…formula feeding or breastfeeding…the list goes on. I silently loathe the ease with which humans (myself included) assign others into categories. I get it; really I do. It makes for easy psychological organization. And differences are easier to identify than similarities, particularly in an increasingly polarized society. But I have to believe we are missing an incredible amount of human connection when we classify others by one or two aspects of who they are.

I refuse to miss out on those connections with my children. There can be no us vs. them (or parents vs. kids) in our home. I refuse to classify them based on their mistakes on one (or several) days. It is unacceptable to me. My children are not just my children, and they are not just house-destroyers (though it may feel like that sometimes). They are future professionals, spouses, and parents. Each of my children has his or her own unique strengths and personalities, and I believe that each will leave their own imprint on the world. I just have to remind myself sometimes that they are not conspiring against me. At least I don’t think so.

If I strive to connect with other adults, and find shared commonality rather than disagreements, how much more must I strive to do that in my own home? How much more important is it to see my children as individuals and teach them to do the same for others? Connection starts at home. Don’t hesitate to learn from your kids. Sometimes they’re telling you exactly what they need.

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Stacy
Stacy grew up in Minnesota, but spent the next several years of her life traversing the globe, temporarily setting down roots anywhere and everywhere. Stacy is extremely passionate about the world of adoption and foster care, having spent a year in Uganda adopting her oldest daughter in 2008. Stacy married her husband Jesse in 2011, and they moved to Oklahoma City to grow their family. After a brief hiatus in Minnesota, Stacy and her beloved family of five returned to Oklahoma City in June of 2017. They are thrilled to be back "home" where sweet tea flows like water and they can fully embrace saying "Y'all". Stacy obtained a Master’s degree in child psychology in 2007, but currently uses it only on her own children! A stay-at-home mama since Baby #3 was born, Stacy has stayed busy keeping her children alive and relatively entertained. She loves her little crazy crew fiercely and is enjoying returning to all of their favorite local haunts. When she’s not chasing her kiddos, Stacy is likely traveling or daydreaming about traveling. She also enjoys coffee shops, copious amounts of “cop drama” shows, and perusing pinterest for ideas that have little chance of ever getting done. But they’re good to have. Just in case.

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