I was looking down at my shirt and trying to figure out whether the slightly damp and somewhat yellow stain was milk, sweat or tears, when my therapist totally blew my mind. I had just gone on a five-minute rant to her about my kids—specifically, my toddler who still wasn’t potty trained (we’d been working on going number two for six months but hey, who’s counting?) and who was having very big feelings about his new little sister (“be gentle does not mean throwing your Legos!” was a conversation we’d had earlier that day). Meanwhile, said little sister was napping in 20-minute bursts and would scream bloody murder anytime I tried to put her down.
In short, I was exhausted. I told all of this to my therapist and point blank asked her WTF was wrong with my children.
She countered with another question: But why do your kids have to be so perfect all the time?
I stopped rubbing my mystery stain and took in those words, trying to formulate a response. Well, because it would be so much easier if they behaved how I wanted them to, I said. But even as the words came out of my mouth, my heart wasn’t in it. My baby wasn’t even two months old, how could I expect her to “behave” in any way at all? And as for my toddler, well, he was just doing what toddlers do—experiencing big emotions and testing boundaries.