But I Mean That In the Nicest Way Possible

Before I had children, I had a very specific picture in my head of what kind of mother I would be.  I really expected I would be a "coddler", one of those gentle sorts who leaps into empathetic action at the slightest little bump or sniffle.

And I think, for the first year or so, I probably was that way.

But I am finding, as I walk further down this parenting road, that phrases such as "toughen up" and "shake it off" and "play with pain" are creeping ever more regularly into my vocabulary.

Not that I’m cold-hearted, mind you–there’s plenty of TLC that goes on in this family, and the kids know that Mom is the Mender Of All Broken Things.  But they also know that Mom has a radar firmly in place that detects the Revel-In-the-Drama Cry, the I’m-Going-To-Get-My-Brother-In-Trouble Cry, the Maybe-I-Can-Get-Out-Of-A-Math-Test Cry.

I’m not sure if it’s the addition of years or the addition of warm bodies to my brood, but something has changed.  Tonight, I thought about that tender young mother I was, rocking my firstborn in a darkened nursery, cooing gently and forming all my lovely intentions to speak soft words at all times.

Yes, I thought about her tonight, as my three wrestling boys banged against their sister’s wall, waking her up.  There were cries of "I’m hu-u-u-u-urt!" echoing down the stairs, and the cries were waking Corrie further.  As I tromped up the stairs I heard strange words leaving my mouth:  "SOMEONE BETTER HAVE A LEG DETACHED FROM HIS BODY!"

Shhhh.  Don’t tell the sweet little mother in the nursery.  We wouldn’t want to scare her.

57 thoughts on “But I Mean That In the Nicest Way Possible

  1. chocolatechic says:

    giggle….
    I think of all the new mothers in our church, and my cousin who is about to deliver, and all the wisdom that I have heard them spout before they even got pregnant………I just laugh and say to myself, in a few years you will really know!

  2. Activities Coordinator says:

    My youngest is nine, and when I talk about the things my kids do and they way I deal with them at our Moms Bible Study, only the Moms with older kids laugh. The young Moms sit there with their jaws hanging open. You can almost hear their thoughts, “I would NEVER…!”
    Never’s coming sooner than you think, Sister.

  3. Chelsea says:

    Yeah, I don’t score very high on the mercy scale either. My kids know not to come screaming unless there’s blood, bones or bad guys. Same concept for getting a call from the school nurse — unless there’s blood, fever or vomit, they can tough it out.

  4. Melissa says:

    It’s a very important Parenting Principle. Before you have children, you always know what Those People should do with Their Children. When you have children of your own, regardless of how crazy they make you, you always have time to think about how your acquaintances, those with really crazy children, should Just Discipline More Firmly, or More Consistently, etc. I think God keeps a list, just to make sure your children eventually do every one of those things! (just to prove that we don’t really know everything and to keep us humble, you know!!) πŸ˜‰
    misslisslee

  5. Robyn says:

    LOL! I have 4 kids…I emphasize fully! My youngest is now 10 months old, and he would be upset and screaming about something, and I would gently whisper in his ear….You will Live and not die….and little old ladies smile….
    The ones I love though are the parents (with younger children) who see my girls doing something bad and say, if you had done (this) with them they wouldn’t do that…….wait a couple of years sweety…..

  6. GiBee says:

    I only have one kid, but I totally understand what you mean about detecting the various cries. I have also found myself telling him to shake it off, or you’re okay. I have friends who were parents like you first mentioned, and coddled their kids into their teen aged years … it’s not a pretty picture. I thought I’d be a coddler too, but I’m finding more and more that I’m not. Except when he’s really hurt. Then I do coddle. And cuddle.

  7. Kristi says:

    Girl, I was never the sweet, adoring calm mother! From birth, I just wanted them to SLEEP! My first slept through the night at 7 weeks, and when my second wasn’t sleeping through the night at 10 weeks, I shut his door, shut my door and turned on the bathroom fan so I couldn’t hear him screaming. I don’t know how long he did, but he slept through the night from there on. I know parenting has be selfless, but that night, I didn’t care!

  8. An Iowa Mom says:

    Oh my Gosh … this post had to have left my mind and out your mouth (or fingers).
    Only instead of saying that someone better have a leg detached … I was huffing, “Hurt? Hurt? I’m going to show you hurt!”
    πŸ™‚

  9. An Iowa Mom says:

    Before anyone emails me asking if I would ever really “hurt” my kids … the answer is no. I would not. It was just a scare tactic.
    Just thought I’d save you a minute.
    πŸ˜‰

  10. seized by hope says:

    Hilarious. Does this qualify as “Growing kids God’s way”? The words, “I’m going to end your life” have been known to fly from my mouth as my 16 year old and 12 year old go at it.
    The gentle rocking mom is still in there, but clearly none of your boys were needing to be gently rocked last night!

  11. Andrea says:

    My catch phrase is “Are you bleeding or missing a body part? Then I don’t want to hear it!”
    (And I’ve been called the nicest person anyone knows.)

  12. Jes says:

    HA HA! I consider myself a “young, new mom”, but from the start I have been a firm believer in the “don’t make a big deal out of falls.” I noticed through my years of baby sitting, and watching nieces and nephews that it seemed like if you pretended you didn’t seem then whack their head off the table, then it didn’t hurt, but if you looked and said “ouch! are you okay?” it was a big dramatic problem.
    So, when my daughter tumbles and her head bounces off the carpeted floor, I turn my head away, or say “oh! ha ha ha” If she still cries, I cuddle her and kiss it. if she acts like it didn’t happen, well- she can’t be hurt!

  13. Mrs. Nicklebee says:

    “You ladies are all mean, hateful,neglectful mothers,” says the mother who has slept peacefully through cries of sick children and even a ruptured eardrum, and who has blown off complaints of back pain, which turned out to be a broken and slipped vertebra, as just another story to get out of doing something he didn’t like. D’oh!

  14. Jen says:

    Hee, hee, yep, eventually we all have to go there. I still haunt my mom with one of her favorite phrases for us, “Buck up!” πŸ˜€

  15. Melanie says:

    We have gotten past the “Are you bleeding and need a band-aid?” phase of Motherhood. At this point, a tourniquet must be required or someone is going to Time Out.
    And it ain’t Mama.

  16. Rachel May says:

    My favorite is one that my dad used to yell up the stairs at the four of us when we weren’t doing whatever we were supposed to be doing… I use it today. “Remember that I brought you into this world! I can yank you right back out and make another one just like you!”

  17. Shalee says:

    Oh… What happens when the mom is the instigator to a all the ruckus? Not that it happens in OUR house or anything…
    And I distinctly recall saying, “It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt.” This after getting an elbow smashing to my nose. I’m lucky I don’t have two black eyes to go with the bruise on my nose.
    And we’re at a point where, frankly, I don’t care if we wake the baby. Mr. Right can go back to sleep with the best of ease. πŸ™‚
    (Which is really good since The Boy is still learning the art of whispering.)

  18. pam says:

    It’s all about blood or fire around our house. No blood, no fire, no attendance from the parents. We are merciless.
    Yet, we love with the same fervor with which we discipline and learn. I think it all balances out somehow.

  19. Liz C says:

    We have the Red, White, or Blue rule:
    You may shriek if there is a LOT of blood, if bones are poking out, or if someone is not breathing.
    Otherwise, no freaking out.
    We regularly recite two mottos. What’s the Cub Scout motto?
    “Do Your Best.”
    And what’s Mom’s Motto?
    “Don’t Be a Weiner.”
    I also play Possum at night. DH deals FAR better with sleep interruption than I do once we’re past the nursling stage, so if our toddler cries out in the night, I concentrate on laying very, very still, keeping my breathing very, very regular, and HE gets up to soothe her.
    I love my husband a lot, and someday, I may come clean about playing possum. Someday, when all the children sleep through the night.

  20. Christy says:

    Aw. I remember those days. My daughter turned two yesterday and I can’t believe some of the things that come flying out of my mouth already!!

  21. Christa @ No End in Site says:

    I’m smiling a knowing smile. My three oldest are also boys and we wrestling the other day… One of them started screaming and I heard them running toward me. I said, “You’d better be dying!” Oh boy! My husband and I giggle at our sister-in-law. She has voiced all kinds of parenting advice for the last two years. Her only child is now 7 months old. When I asked her what he needed for Christmas, she actually listed Duplos. I cringed inside thinking of all the times I’ve picked up Duplos around our house. Almost makes me want to buy them for our nephew just to prove to her that her “I’ll never pick up after my kids” teory isn’t true… Almost. Thanks for the laughs.

  22. Milehimama says:

    Oh yeah. I’m on number 7 and now I have a test before I give out any coddling:
    Are you bleeding?
    Are you dead?
    If the answer is not “yes” then shake it off, baby! LOL
    I think it is mother of BOYS that does it to ya, though.

  23. Laurie says:

    FUnny! I think the years and additional kids turn moms into tough-lovers. My favorite line for my 4 kiddos is :”Someone better be bleeding from the head!”

  24. girlymama says:

    When my kids wake me up at 2am I say, “Are you sick? Are you bleeding? No? Well get back in bed.”
    Far cry from the early days of “What’s wrong, my sweet little baby girl?”

  25. Lady Why says:

    My first question is, “Where’s the blood?” The level of wailing better match the volume of blood loss. I’m just saying.
    Oh, the years… how they change a person!

  26. courtney orrange says:

    oh that mother in the nursery would be very disillusioned if she knew what life would be three years down the road. Definitely part of the reason it’s better that I don’t know everything that’s ahead of me in life.

  27. Amy says:

    I’m right there with you, only I’m just the mom of two little girls. I just let them fight sometimes. Bad, bad, mommy.

  28. Anne says:

    Ohhhhhhhhh You mean I am not the only contender for Mother of the Year???
    My two favourites? “Build a bridge and get over it”, and, “Too bad, so sad ask me if I care – do I care? – No!”
    My oldest is 7 today and I used to be the cooing mum in the nursery too. She learned a lot in 7 years.

  29. Tricia says:

    Yeah, wait till you have teens.
    I told my boys today, “Mom is taking a nap. DO NOT WAKE ME UNLESS THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE!!!”
    One of my boys says “What if someone is bleeding?”
    “Nope”, I replied, “Don’t wake me up for that.”
    I think that sweet cooing mother in the nursery just rolled over in her grave, because I know for a fact she is long dead.
    :o)
    Tricia @ http://www.hilltophomeschool.blogspot.com

  30. Emily says:

    Oh, your talking to the mom who told her kids that I better not get a call during PTO unless there was blood, barf or someone breaking in the house. I’m getting tired of phone calls asking if they can get on the computer or complaining about their sitter (their sister)!

  31. Colin Wee says:

    Children love structure and discipline. A lot of Asian parents ask how my children are doing so well, and they immediately latch on to anything that I say which involves disciplining. But in my mind discipline doesn’t mean disincentivisation. It is everything that involves encouraging children to be compliant with what we want – this includes praise, set rules, making sure the environment allows them to be good kids, clear warnings, clear punishments, and tying in punishment consistently when non-compliance occurs. I also include regular refresher sessions on why it is good to follow our rules – the simple objectives involved (some to prevent mishaps, some to have good kids, etc.) Good post. Colin

  32. Anonymous says:

    Mom of 11 here: I’m pretty much to the point if they can dial 911 themselves, I’ll let ’em. &;o) They know not to cry wolf ~ I’ve heard it all and know all the dialects of whine and blame. Fun Post to relate to!

  33. Ranelle says:

    I tell my three the only reasons they should be out of bed at night is if 1) they’re bleeding or 2) on fire. Hopefully, social services won’t read this!

  34. Nancy says:

    I truly believe we all start out as that sweet lil mother, but somewhere along the way we turn into the realist that motherhood wisdom brings us and tough love overrides the sweet lil mother.

  35. witchypoo says:

    I’m all over the “it better be bleeding” thing.
    I remember one of the little sweeties wanting dessert without eating the broccoli trick. He threw it on the floor and was all “I can’t eat it, it was on the floor” and I was all “Don’t give me that. I’ve seen you lick Jello off that same floor”
    Ah, good times…

  36. laurie says:

    Be careful. I, too got tired of endlessly giving comfort when someone had a teeny tiney hurt (in my opinion). THEN I fell. This was a trip over your own feet in the parking lot fall. skinned my knee, jammed that same knee up into my hip and it HURT! My leg ached for days beside the skinned part. I became more sympathetic, if I avoided another lesson from God it was worth it.

  37. edj says:

    I think it’s not just time, but additional children, that changes our perspective. Once, my 3 and I were visiting a friend, who is very tender-hearted, mother of only one. The boys were teasing Ilsa and she started crying, and my friend got very concerned. I didn’t budge. “They’ll come get us if it’s serious,” I told her, taking another drink of coffee. She thought I was terribly hard-hearted, but it turned out that I was right and it was nothing.

  38. hogphan says:

    Interesting posts, moms. I’m an “old” father of a 35 yr old mom and a 32 yr old dad and my observation is both of those people you have been have been the right person for the time. That baby in the nursery needed a sweet, cooing mom to kiss every tear away and those kids who are bouncing off the walls and getting cuts and bruises doing it need the “it better be bleeding” moms. The teens will need someone even tougher. The world’s a tough place out there and they need all of what you’re giving them. You’re doing them a favor, even when you have to bite your lip to do it. There really is a time for every purpose under heaven. Keep the faith, girls, it’ll all work out in the end! πŸ™‚

  39. Liz C says:

    Had to share one more story: growing up, there was a family of ranchers that had a tough, wiry dad, two very tall, gangly sons about 12 months apart, and a ranch-mom who was tough as nails, but soooo elegant and feminine the whole time, too.
    The boys were about 14/13, and just kept picking at each other, having sorta-fights, and sometimes doing real medical damage to one another because they weren’t controlling their newfound strength or aggression very well.
    One day, Ranch Mom brought them into the yard, handed them each a shovel, and said, “Start hitting.”
    “HUH?”
    “I want you two to stand here in the yard and whack each other with the flat of these shovels until you’re both bleeding. You’re brothers, and this junk has to stop. Now. Start whacking. No coming inside until there’s blood.”
    A few half-hearted whacks later, they came inside with very small blood dribbles, having obeyed their mother, and they never fought again, from that day to this… they’re in their 50s now.
    Their mom is still tough as nails, and still terribly elegant all the time, even mucking out stalls!

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