So…remember this post? The one where I got all self-righteous about my kid’s impressive musical taste and how great a mother I am for introducing her to good music and blocking her from mainstream crap, etc., etc.? Well, as per usual, in the perfect symmetry of my life, wherein every time I think I have an area of parenting dialed, something happens almost immediately that sends me right back to the parenting time-out chair, I now stand corrected and am currently removing a size 11 foot from my mouth (which used to be a size 10, by the way, until I had Georgia – why the hell do feet grow during pregnancy? Does everything have to grow during pregnancy?). Sorry. I’m focusing.
Here’s what happened.
We’re about to leave for school on Wednesday: chaos, baby screaming in her car seat while Rocket “helps me” by buckling her in (bad plan, FYI) – I’ve got seventy five bags of critical items, I’m pissed off and irritable and questioning the purpose of life as I do every morning while trying to get to school and work, and Ava looks at me very seriously with a little fear in her eyes (smart kid) and says, “Mama, what would you think if I liked Justin Bieber? Is liking Justin Bieber bad music taste?”
And my whole world stops.
It stops because I hear the faintest quiver in my daughter’s voice and see her vast blue eyes seeking my approval so earnestly and hoping I’m proud of her and I see a little insecurity in her posture, some hesitance, caution, and I know it took guts for her to say that to me, that she was worried I would judge her or make fun and she just wants to please me so badly as usual and shit that breaks my heart. I ask “well, do you like Justin Bieber? And she says quietly “well, I kinda do.”
And once again in the face of my child I see myself clearly for just a moment, see the way my ego has backfired once again – in trying to “teach” her good music taste, in being overly vocal about what’s good and what sucks, I scared her into doubting her own tastes. The message I sent was “like what I like” not “like what you like and screw what other people think” (which is what I meant to be saying).
Hello, my name is Janelle. And I am a fucktard.
Here I am judging the hell out of people who limit their kids’ exposure to music by only playing mainstream crap because it’s “appropriate” (okay I stand by my previous assertion that that is lame), while I am doing the same thing just in another direction: only exposing my kids to certain types of music because I think it’s “good.” I have inadvertently shoved my ideas on her so forcefully that she feels afraid to pursue her own tastes because maybe mama won’t think it’s “cool.” Whah, I hate mothering.
What I should be doing is introducing her to all types of music, without judgment, keeping my own ego intact, allowing her to explore freely and find her own way rather than mirror mine.
But it’s just so hard.
What I want for my children is freedom. I want them to be free to be themselves. But I just can’t seem to help forcing myself on them, even though my intentions are good, even though I think I’m “helping” them or “showing them the way.” I need some humility. I need to back the hell off. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic, but I believe the most enduring and powerful gift I can give my children is the confidence and ability to be exactly who they are no matter what, especially in the face of those who may judge them. Basically, in the face of assholes like me.
So tonight, when Ava gets home from school, she’ll have a new Justin Bieber CD on her pillow, with a note from her mom that says “I can’t wait to listen to this with you!”
And I’ll swallow another gallon of my overflowing well of pride, and try to do better next time.