One of the luxuries of having your kids grow older, is that you learn to reframe a lot of their behaviors and actions. You get this experience in several ways, with the top three being:
- your experience as a mother
- watching and interacting with other children the same age as your own
- exchanging war stories with your fellow parents
You learn to put things into perspective, quickly filtering behaviors and actions as emergency and non-emergency. For instance, with your first child as an infant, any illness seems catastrophic. By your third child several years later, you decide that catastrophic involves blood and gore.
With your first child, you are hypervigilant. You are aware of any change in tone of voice, any sound of sudden silence. Multiple children later, your off-spring know that the only reason they are to interrupt you is if blood or fire is involved.
I know, I know. N new moms are thinking, “I will never be like this! I love my children!”
Of course you do. And we experienced moms love our children also. But we have come to realize that being hypervigilant for 18+ years takes a serious toll on your well-being. You have to draw the line somewhere.
That’s where the “It Could Be Worse” mantra comes into play.
You get a call from a teacher, complaining about your child’s inattentiveness during class. At first, you are outraged that your child acts like this. How dare he be disrespectful of a teacher and his classmates! But, because you have a much shortened hypervigilance ability, it quickly evolves into the mantra.
- “It could have been worse, he could have been dancing in the classroom.”
- “It could have been worse, he could have cussed out the teacher.”
- “It could have been worse, he could be a dropout, not even attending school.”
See how that worked? You haven’t lost the initial anger at your child so much as defused it without any screaming or yelling being involved. You were able to step back and look at the big picture. Does it matter that your child didn’t pay attention in class? Yes…BUT…it won’t go on his permanent record. Seriously, in a few days (minutes?!) someone will have done something to get the teacher’s attention and the inattentiveness of your child will be forgotten.
If it makes you feel better, by the time your child gets home from school and you talk to him about his classroom daydreaming, HE will have forgotten all about it. See, kids are good at this letting go and letting be. We could learn a few lessons from them.
I could go on and on with examples, but I think you get the idea. If you’re a new mom and are frightened to fall into the use of this mantra, don’t be afraid. Just embrace it. And use it with glee!
After all, It Could Be Worse!