It’s been a rough couple of months for our family. My super active, extra healthy grandfather passed away unexpectedly, leaving my grandmother (his wife of 64 years) to navigate through this life alone. So last week, the kids and I hopped on a cheap flight and made our way from LAX to Minneapolis. Mostly because I needed to be with my Grandma but in my mind, she needed to be with me too.
See, my parents were young when they had me. So I spent a large portion of my life with grandparents…on both sides. Now, at 42 years old, I am down to 1 last grandparent. My maternal grandmother. The one who was 39 years old when I was born. The one who taught me how to iron clothes and follow a recipe. The one who took me to street fairs and museums and garage sales. The one who taught me how to care for my elders and befriend those in need. The one who cheers for me and counsels me and chastises me and still spends hours on the phone with me.
Although, she has 8 other grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, I am the firstborn and there is an indescribable closeness that we share. We have something that spans thousands of miles, so when I felt like we needed each other, I think I was right.
Without much advance planning, I gathered up my three children, kissed my husband good-bye and headed back home to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Upon our arrival, my middle daughter, the one who challenges me the most, began to rattle off her list of Minneapolis desires.
“OKAY MOM. First, I want to go to the Mall of America to ride the rides. Oh! and I need an all day pass this time. I don’t want to count NO points. I just want to get on every ride. And don’t make us leave early. We need to stay at the mall all day. After that, let’s go eat at Davanni’s pizza. And then, I will…”
I can’t even tell you what else she said, because I’m pretty sure I blacked out. After a long night of red-eye travel, the last thing I wanted to hear was a demanding list of my privileged child’s DESIRES. I must have grabbed her by the arm and threatened her within an inch of her life, because the next thing I knew she was running away from me in tears.
This blog is not a glowing review of my perfect parenting. This is real life. And over here in real life, I have been known to snatch a kid up. Especially for steamrolling me with her selfish desires.
Like how dare she?
How dare she expect me to adjust MY plans?
How dare she EXPECT to get whatever she wants?
How dare SHE be just like ME?
I was not proud of my performance that day, but instead of hiding behind a pretty picture, I openly shared my shame on my Instagram page. The mommas of the world responded with understanding and compassion and support, because we all know: parenting ain’t always pretty.
My grandfather recently passed away. To say he loved me would be a gross understatement, but yes, he was impatient with me and yes, he yelled at me and yes, he grabbed my arm and yes he called me stubborn.
Wanna know what’s funny? I am stubborn. JUST LIKE HIM!
In this parent ‘hood, everyday is not filled with sunshine and rainbows. Parenting – especially parenting on purpose – is actually hard AF. The things about myself that frustrate me; The things that I am afraid to admit; Those things are magnified and reflected back to me with such clarity that I often realize that I am not mad at her, but I am mad at me.
Parenting ain’t always pretty.
I just lost a GRANDparent and when I think about how he parented me, my heart swells with pride knowing that – even though my unwavering stubbornness pissed him off – he loved me with that same unwavering stubbornness.
This is real life parenting and real life parenting ain’t always pretty.
Claudine Cooper is a Los Angeles based fitness trainer with over 20 years of professional experience. Originally from Minneapolis, this busy wife and mother is committed to sharing her passion for healthy living. You can follow her on Instagram @fitwit3.
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