Growing up I had all kinds of thoughts about what I would do and what I wouldn’t do when I had kids of my own, especially when it came to ideas of discipline. I grew up in the time of the paddle, when it was a standard means of punishment in school and at home. I remember the transition to required permission from parents and the rise of the anti-spanking ideology. I majored in Psychology, further shaping my ideas of the necessity of discipline and the application of positive and negative reinforcements. I even worked with adolescents in a therapeutic environment focusing on natural and logical consequences for behavior.
Then it happened. I become a mom. Suddenly, I was dealing with reality, and not just some abstract idea of what to do with my own offspring. In the beginning it was easy. Feed the baby, change the baby, and watch her sleep. OK, so it wasn’t always that easy because the discipline thing started in her infancy. What do you do when the baby cries, and you’ve done everything known to woman to accommodate and sooth? Hold her, or lay her down and let her cry it out?
I had all kinds of motherly advise on that one, compounded with years of intellectual based knowledge. In the end, I did what worked for us. I held my baby as much as I could, and when I couldn’t hold her for the headache it caused me, I let her cry it out. I went on the basis that there was absolutely no way I could spoil my baby by holding her too much since she wouldn’t be a baby forever, and therefore I wouldn’t be able to hold her forever. The times I let her cry it out, I went on the basis that it wasn’t going to permanently scar her to deal with her own crying while I made sure that I was in a healthier frame of mind for the both of us.
As my daughter has grown, and with the addition of my son, things have become more complex. There is a four and a half year age difference between them. This means that what works for the 7 year old will not work for the 2 year old. What worked for the oldest when she was 2 doesn’t even work for the 2 year old I have now. I’m already being inundated with “that’s not fair” comments from my daughter, and they are only going to become more frequent, coming from both kids eventually, I just know it.
I always imagined I’d be a fair minded parent, so to hear my daughter accuse me of being unfair has been a knife to my heart. I know that a 2 year old does not possess the same level of self control that a 7 year old does, but try explaining why the 7 year old has to have a time out in her room for hitting while the 2 year old is sat in a chair in the corner for almost no time at all in comparison. It isn’t fair based on 7 year old logic.
I am a tyrant, an unfair ogre, the Mommy Overlord. I’m sure I don’t stand the muster to be considered a Tiger Mom, but I have already begun to accept that to my children at times I will be the Mommy Overlord. When I hold them to unfair discipline tactics because of age, or when I am uncompromising about the fact that homework must be done after school and before play (That’s unfair, too according to my daughter), I am the Mommy Overlord.