Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mommy the diplomat

Motherhood is often called the toughest job you'll ever love. And most days that's true. Other days, I'm ashamed to admit, I wonder how anyone can see far enough past the tantrums and the teething, the pee pee on the floor, the sleepless nights, the barnyard ambiance of our dinner table and so on to express an affection for the job. At the end of the day, I love my son, but often hate the kind of parent I've become.

Lately, my favorite times of day are before nap and before bedtime. And for this, I feel supremely guilty and wonder why I can't enjoy my son in between. Even nice treats like a trip to Locopops or a stop to watch the diggers and bulldozers at a nearby construction site or a trip to the park must end eventually. When they do, Dan devolves into a monster-sized tantrum that makes me wonder why we ever left the house at all. This morning, we went to the park as we always do on Tuesdays. I both love and dread this activity. It's fun while we're there, but when it's time to go, no amount of warning, waving bye-bye to the slide and the sandbox, hugging his friend good-bye and other activities helps ease the transition.

When Dan resists, I'm more likely to be authoritarian than understanding. I'm a "my way or the highway" mommy some days, but I don't want to be. Distraction and diplomacy, empathy and ego-massage does not come naturally in my interaction with him. And that is a surprise considering that these are traits I have practiced professionally with success. I've been a reporter, an editor and a public relations professional at various times over the past 15 years. I can easily cajole sensitive information out of sources, gently convince a reporter to reword a few paragraphs and spin any issue in an organization's favor, yet I can't convince a 2-year-old to get dressed or leave the playground without drama.

The diaper and dressing drama has gotten easier in the past few days only because I've been dragged kicking and screaming into the subtle art of toddler diplomacy. Playing games and singing have replaced begging and strong arming. Since I've acquiesced, it's gotten better. The playground drama is another story altogether.

Yet after learning to practice even a little diplomacy with a toddler, it seems that any mom could easily gain ground with the world's most stubborn tyrants.

1 comment:

The WilsonFam said...
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