Posted by: Kate | January 23, 2009

The Means to an End

Dear L,

Honey, you’re an amazing mother and a good friend and I have nothing but respect for you. You have gotten through so much in the past year, and you’ve kept your humor and wits throughout.  You’ve survived things that would have left me huddled in a corner in a fetal position, and without being brittle or bottled up about it all.  I can see, literally see, the confidence and relief that has filled you since K was born; the pregnancy was more than just a physical weight for you, because you had worries that the delivery would be as bad as X’s or that He Who Shall Not Be Named would try to mess with you at the hospital.  Once it all went smoothly, and they handed over that baby, you had an instant and visible personality change.  Suddenly you seemed sure of yourself, and it was a joy to behold.  I hope it continues.

I accept, as I do for everyone, that not everyone chooses to parent in the same way, and I try very hard to step back from X when you’re around; I’m not her mom, and she doesn’t need more confusion in her life about roles and authority.

But.  Giving in to every single tantrum she has is not going to create a child who learns how to ask nicely, use her words, and deal with disappointment. She has already quit bothering to start by asking; she just goes straight to whining and tantrum the instant things look like they might not go her way, because she knows she’ll get what she wants that way. This is not going to get easier to deal with, as time passes and habits form.

She’s a beautiful, smart, sweet little girl, who was unbelievably brave and precious for us this week, and I’m grateful we were able to borrow her. She responds politely and respectfully, at least within the normal expected range for a 3-year-old, when you’re not around. I know that kids reserve their worst behavior for Mom because they know that Mom will always love them no matter what, but honestly, you don’t need to accept bad behavior every time.

Sigh. And we all know I said as much as I’m going to say tonight, when I reminded you that I would be happy to play the bad guy and insist on her sleeping in Emily’s room if you wanted. I honestly, truly don’t care where she sleeps; I just hate that she got her way in such an unpleasant manner. But you know it, and I know you know it, so I’ll zip it and present a bright, cheerful smile in the morning.

But I’ll be damned if she thinks she’s going to weasel her way out of going to school tomorrow. She needs the structure, and we need the quiet.

Thanks, hon.

Much love,



  1. Aww Hugs for both of you.. no sage advice, just a “I hear ya sister” comment 🙂

  2. oh I K-N-O-W this one ever so well. huge hugs to the whole household as you endure the trying 3’s together for a while.

  3. You know, things will change with the new bub because they will HAVE to. I don’t have to tell you that babies are demanding and new mums are tired. The youngling will learn her place I’m sure now that she’s not the sole recipient of parental dotage! God I’m glad I don’t have 3 year olds any more.

  4. […] Yesterday, I was frustrated and a little bit smug, watching L’s interplay with tantrum-prone X. […]

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