Sunday, January 4, 2009

Best Mom Tip #20: Remember that they learn it by watching you

My little girl does a darn good impression of my frustrated look. She can mimic back my husband's "do you think I buy that?" expression. I'm pretty sure that her dramatic sigh (that I find so very frustrating) is something she's heard around the house before. She doesn't gossip about what's going on in other people's lives, but she may not realize that her father and I do so because she can't spell yet. I am suddenly very aware that everything I say and do is for an audience who finds me to be the ultimate guide in how to be a woman, an adult, and a mom. And that is really scary.

If my kids were to see only my faults and foibles, I could pretty easily wind up raising people who:
  1. Eat out a ridiculous amount to avoid cooking
  2. Leave laundry "on deck" in what is affectionately called Mt. Laundy
  3. Tug on their clothes and frown at their faces in the mirror
  4. Force their spouses to constantly tell them how wonderful they are due to extreme insecurity
  5. Get visibly and vocally frustrated with their children for being so.....very......s..l..o..w..
  6. Watch an inordinate amount of "reality" TV (I'm glad Bob won Survivor)
  7. Waste money on magazines like "Runner's World" even though they haven't actually run in over a year and a half
  8. Feel superior to other people intellectually (I'm hoping you've all stopped reading before this one and I can confess without anyone noticing)
  9. Forget to call friends on their birthdays AND
  10. Obsessively worry if they are good enough at anything for anyone to like them
Now, you may not think that any of these things are all that awful, but remember, I kept all of the really juicy stuff private because I am insecure (see numbers 3, 4, 7, and 10). The point is, we all have these little eyes and ears waiting to see how we deal with anger, frustration, money problems, plumbing problems, heartache, backache, love, and loss. And they will remember. They will learn how to deal with these things based on how we as moms (and dads--hi guys) deal with these things. They will carry our morals and values out into the world.

Sure, their own personalities and experiences will come into play as they grow and learn. But first and foremost, they will learn it by watching you. For all you children of the '80s out there, I've added the original "I learned it by watching you" PSA below.

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