Being a mom has got to be one of the hardest jobs in the world. It’s rewarding, yes. . .fulfilling, and sprinkled with some of the brightest and most wonderful moments possible. But it’s also gut-wrenchingly, heartbreakingly tough.
So it only stands to reason that every mom needs to have a few tricks up her sleeve. These are not the kind of things you read about in parenting magazines. These little tidbits are shared between frazzled moms over coffee or passed on from mother to daughter in confidential talks.
I have a few of my own. Hey, you don’t have four kids—one of them nearly twenty-one—and hold onto your sanity without some guerilla tactics. I don’t recommend all of them for everyone, and some are only to be used under extreme duress. But I’ll share a few of them with you. Shhhhh. . .
The first thing you have to remember is that the bond between siblings is sacred. You don’t mess with it. . .unless it’s absolutely necessary. I will admit that I have, once or twice, coerced information from one child about another. It’s usually just to confirm a hunch I already have. I don’t like it—I want my kids to be friends and to trust one another—but sometimes it’s safer to go in with as much information as possible.
I also discovered something a little disturbing with my youngest child. I realized a few years ago that when he is grumpy or less than motivated to do his chores or school work, there is one thing that will change his mood. And that’s the presence of a sibling who is even grumpier. A sister who gets in trouble for her attitude? Why, you’ll practically be able to see your reflection in my son’s halo. Suddenly he is very attentive and the absolute sweetest child you’ve ever met. With this knowledge, it is entirely possible. . .although I admit to nothing. . .that I may have coerced a sibling into feigning a snarly mood. This hypothetical event would only have happened when I was at the end of my rope, of course.
My most recent discovery has the faintly unsavory air of bribery, although I choose to call it a business proposition. A certain daughter of mine had expressed a need to make some money for the holidays. At the same time, I was growing less and less tolerant of a younger child’s messy room. I was trying to train this child to keep his/her room in order, but it is an uphill battle. There were times when I just wanted to see the floor without clothes and toys covering it and the drawers closed.
I hit upon a plan. I clandestinely approached child who needed money and offered her the job of keeping her sibling’s room relatively neat. But part of the agreement was that she could NOT disclose this agreement, because I knew if messy child was aware that a sibling was being paid to help him/her with his/her room, he/she would take advantage of that fact and not work at all. May I just tell you that this agreement is working out brilliantly? And I really don’t feel even the least bit guilty.
Yes, we moms need these tricks. Sometimes they’re the only things that get us through the week. . .or the day. And we can comfort ourselves with the reality that one day, we’ll share these little secrets with our grown children and laugh.
Just not within hearing of the grandkids.