I have come to realize that having children is all about control. It’s about the feeling of wanting to have control and dealing with the fact that you often don’t. And I think it’s this way right from the very beginning.

You spend years and years trying to prevent pregnancy. And then something changes and the time comes when you are ready, and of course you have absolutely no control over when and how that will happen for you. This can be frustrating and downright heartbreaking for some. But, hopefully, finally there it is—that beautiful, innocent new addition to your family.

If your child entered your family as an infant, you spend the first year trying to control their sleep habits and eating habits. As your child grows older, you realize these will be things you’ll always be keeping tally of. You work hard to get them into a napping schedule and make sure they are eating three square meals. Your biggest accomplishment is when they sleep through the night. Then there is a shift. I remember clearly when my husband and I realized we were no longer just keeping this thing alive, we now had to teach it things, such as how to behave like a reasonable human being. Now that is some serious responsibility!

So, we did our best to try to teach our child the things we thought were important for a kind person, as well as the things we wanted her to know how to do. Lately my daughter has been saying, “you and dad tell me to do too many things.” And when I sat back and thought about that for a while I realized we do tell her to do a lot of things. I’m not sure how I would feel if I had someone dictating what I needed to do almost every minute of my day. “It’s time to wake up, it’s time to get dressed, it’s time to brush your teeth, put on your jacket, let’s go!” then “it’s time to wash your hands for dinner, please sit in your chair for dinner, please take another bite of your pasta, please get ready for your bath, please brush your teeth, now go to sleep. I said now!” And these statements don’t even include all things we ask her NOT to do.

And when she doesn’t drop what she’s doing and do what I’ve asked/told her to do, what happens to me? I get frustrated. Why isn’t she doing what I tell her to do? I’m the mom. I’m in charge. And I feel overwhelmed—I don’t have control of her. It feels like a constant battle of who is in control of the situation. The thing I’ve come to realize is that she’s not calculating or manipulative, she’s just being human. She’s just testing her boundaries; she’s not doing it to upset me. If I make it about control, I immediately escalate the situation.

A friend posted on Facebook that he was somewhere in public and a kid was totally losing it. He was so surprised that the mom couldn’t seem to get the kid to get ahold of himself. I didn’t understand this either before I was a parent, but I now realize that I ultimately have about as much control over my child as you have over any other relative you might have. Can you really control your mother’s, brother’s, husband’s actions and reactions? All I can do with my children is work my hardest to make sure I have given them the knowledge and tools to make decisions and deal with situations in a kind and respectful manner. Then I hope for the best. And I try not to take anything personally, even when she tells me I’m not invited to her birthday party.

Me and my daughter at her first birthday party 3 years ago. I really hope I'll be invited this year.

Me and my daughter at her first birthday party three years ago. I really hope I’ll be invited this year.

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