Well, I hit a new low in my child’s eyes yesterday, to the point that she tearfully informed me that “WE’RE NOT FAMILY ANYMORE”! I suspect it won’t be the last time she is done with me, as she tends to run rather dramatically high and low (I’d blame her father, but she might as well have my DNA visibly tattooed to her forehead with some traits). My transgression this time? Tasting a corner of her muffin to see if I thought it would meet her approval before giving it to her. Man, three year olds are a tough crowd! How we even got to this point is a little embarrassing, because my whole pregnancy – with Grace I mean because by the time I was gestating the twins I knew my own weaknesses much better – I swore that I would NEVER reward a child with food. Food is not love! Positive reinforcement and maybe non-sexist stickers only! Well, not even four years later and as we’re driving home from church, from the backseat pipes “I was good. Can I have a donut?” Tony and I looked guiltily at each other and we agreed by parent telepathy that I would handle this one.
“We’re so proud you were good, that’s wonderful!” I gushed
in my Happy Mommy voice (that I suspect sounds a little like Mary Poppins after 3 weeks straight of spoonfuls of sugar helping the medicine go down). “You can have a donut just because you’re you.” At the time, this meant…to me…that I was NOT using food as a reward. “And because I was good!” Bisky declared. “OK, whatever.” Unfortunately, the donut place didn’t have donuts (Really, donut place people? Don’t you think that might be an important thing to make sure you don’t run out of?) but they did have ONE morning glory muffin left. Tony obliviously ordered it. “What?” he said in response to my wide eyed glare of contempt. “She won’t eat THAT,” I stated scornfully. “It has NUTS. And BRAN. It’s practically HEALTHY.” He looked at the muffin. “I think that’s sugar sprinkled on the top.” And so I broke off a piece to see….and was kicked out of Gracie’s life forever.
Now, judge if you will, but I’m really not a dumb woman, or particularly servile and scraping to the rest of the world. As I’ve mentioned before, I became a parent relatively late in life after a successful career running Human Resources and Organizational Development departments in multi-million dollar organizations. This is not something one can do well if one is afraid of disapproval or saying ‘No’ (although bribery with food, particularly donuts, has always been an acceptable corporate policy). Back in ‘the day’, I very naively thought that being a ‘boss’ was a lot like being a parent for people who didn’t love you as much as your kids would. I thought I was shaping lives, guiding people and yes, I technically had the authority to remove someone from the team, which was not usually an option in parenting, but other than that it was similar, I was sure. Interns told me I was like a mom. Well, actually, only one did this and we were all pretty sure he had attachment issues, but STILL… I really, really, really believed that my success in my career had somehow prepared me for successful motherhood.
BAHAHAHAHA! You can compare office politics to preschool all you want, and yes, badly behaved senior executives can act like three year olds at times, but not ALL THE TIME. And sure your boss can disown…errrr…fire you, but hardly ever for taste-testing her muffin and if that does happen you probably not only have a good wrongful termination case, you are probably better off anyway. I guess my organization and time management experience sort of helped, but when you’re at the mercy of the biological and emotional whims of barely sentient beings, it doesn’t help as much as you’d think. I suppose the one area where my previous life prepared me for motherhood was the fact that I necessarily had to develop thick skin. I spent nearly two decades acting tough in corporate boardrooms until I really felt tough and was able to turn on my coldly logical persona like it was second nature. And of course, as the old commercial goes “never let them see you sweat”.
Actually, I guess all that did come in handy as Grace severed ties with me for the muffin incident, because what I did was start laughing so loudly that she actually stopped crying to ask what was so funny. I couldn’t answer because I was laughing too hard, and eating more muffin in between hoots. “Daddy, why is mommy laughing and saying ‘bring it’?” she asked between injured and offended sniffs. “Mommy, stop eating my muffin!” So, back to being Mommy again and glad that we don’t have to take life too seriously.