Bad Cop


The longer I teach, the less I enjoy wearing the badge – the bad cop badge, that is.

For whatever reason, I was more willing to embrace this role as a younger teacher. I stood firm. I got results. Eventually, student hatred gave way to respect.

Perhaps it is the parent in me that is tired.

If you are to be an effective parent, you are never truly off-duty, and it seems there is always some boundary that evokes strong emotions in your child.

I want to read this book right NOW! [Insert tears here.]

I don’t want to go potty! [Insert tears here.]

I don’t want to sit at the big table! [Insert tears here.]

These days our son is on the quest for independence. How convenient that this development should coincide with a weeklong vacation from preschool!

[Insert Mom tears here.]

When I wasn’t tending to a child’s excretory system this week, I was sprinting after my son, cleaning up endless baby food spills, and trying not to suffocate in laundry quicksand. Oh, and, yes, I was attempting to do my other full-time job.

I will confess that I felt like a “bad” mom on many occasions, as those perfect moments that I once envisioned with my son were never fully realized: we didn’t sit down together to paint a picture; we didn’t bake a delicious treat; and he didn’t fall asleep against me while I read him a story. Instead, I played a weeklong game of “Don’t Break the Fragile Toddler!” while carrying a handsy six-month-old.

This is one of the puzzling mysteries of parenthood: How do you savor your time with your children when they exhaust your mental capacity?

And, yet, despite it all, the bad cop rises each morning to two children too young to control their emotions. Limits will be enforced and naps will be had.

But beneath the badge is the heart of a mother, and she is fueled by ineffable love to do the hard things for the greater good. After all, there will be plenty of years left to teach her children when to break the rules.

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