Motherhood Is Messy: Wear Black

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I have found that one of the key elements to happy motherhood is acceptance. Rather than be surprised that my little guy used me as a human napkin, I should have known better than to wear white when going out for a pasta dinner. I should have known that the marinara sauce might sting his face and he would need to wipe it off RIGHT NOW and that my sweater might be closer than his napkin. I should have known.

Now certainly we parents should redirect behavior (no, dear, mommy's sweater is not a napkin; here's yours), but the reality is that kids are just being kids and to parent peacefully we shouldn't fight these natural childhood tendencies, but rather anticipate and calmly manage them.

That is, we should wear black. Or at least not white. For a pasta dinner.

Have you heard of Authentic Parenting? I know a lot of you have and that it inspires and informs your parenting style. (Here is a nice article to learn more.) Authentic Parenting recognizes a truth about childhood: that children have authentic, legitimate, real needs that we parents must address to live peacefully with our children. It recognizes that children are not being intentionally malicious, or deceitful, or annoying. They are not doing things specifically to "push our buttons" or make us unhappy. Their needs are authentic and they are trying to communicate their needs in the only way they know how, often through their behavior. It is up to us as parents, I think, to recognize our children's needs as pure and authentic, to hear what it is that they are telling us, and then to address their needs. Most often with young children, their authentic needs relate directly to basic needs. They are hungry, tired, or uncomfortable. They need more attention, more affection. They need to feel safe and loved. They need to run around outside, or sit quietly and read a book. They need to play with others or spend some time alone. These are basic, authentic needs that we parents must continuously monitor and meet.

Sometimes meeting these needs is challenging. Sometimes it's inconvenient. Often it's messy.

We should wear black.


  1. Thanks for posting this, and linking to the Aldort article. I've been feeling disconnected from and easily frustrated by my kiddo the last couple of weeks, and have been meaning to get out my copy of Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves to help me get back into the right frame of mind. This is a nice kick in the pants, and I have the book sitting next to me now.

  2. Yes! Isn't it so true that when we get in these little parenting ruts it's always helpful to return to those sources of mothering inspiration?! Thanks for visiting, Bobbie.

  3. Unless your baby is still in the milky-drooly stage, then ... well, I haven't figured out what color hides that yet! :)

    1. Haha, yes! Let me know if you figure out that perfect color!