Lately I feel like every little thing I do or say is driving my teenager nuts. In his mind, he’s got his life under control and doesn’t really need my help. He’s tired of my constant reminders, says I repeat myself, and can’t seem to pull his ear buds out long enough to really listen to me because apparently he already knows it all.
The thing is, I do need to repeat myself. I’ve asked him to clean his room countless times this week and he keeps telling me he did. Yet, we have no clean spoons and he hasn’t had a laundry pile to put away for quite some time. I know where said spoons and dirty clothes are: they are scattered in his room along with an array of dirty dishes and other questionable items in his room.
Recently he started to complain that he couldn’t find his favorite shirt. I told him he could go shirtless for now and march himself upstairs and clean his room once and for all while I held onto his phone for the rest of the day so he wouldn’t get distracted.
So annoying, right? Getting punished because you can’t find your shirt.
He didn’t say he thought I was annoying because he knows how we operate around here, but he did sneak in an eye roll and a dramatic sigh and we all know that’s code for “You are so annoying, Mom.”
Moms don’t like to be annoying. We don’t like being the “meanest’ parent. We don’t like to repeat ourselves, and we sure as hell don’t enjoy punishing our kids for not doing simple tasks like bringing dirty dishes downstairs and picking up their towels from the floor. We hate the sound of our own voices as we hear ourselves repeating the same thing again and again.
But we have no choice, sometimes.
I know my kids thinks it’s my life’s purpose to nag them. They also feel like I expect perfection when all I want is for then to pull their weight.
They may be confused about what my job is, but I am not. I wish they understood that my job is to teach them responsibility, thoughtfulness, and how to do what they are told. I am annoying because it isn’t an easy route from self absorbed child to responsible adult and it is my job to guide them on this path.
There are times they’ve said I’m a “mean mom” and am much stricter than their friends’ parents, and I don’t care about that either– I know all kids feel that way. So when mine they say this or give me that “You are really irritating me right now” vibe, I’m kind of proud of myself– it means I’m doing my best to try and fix annoying, inconsiderate behavior. This isn’t a one-shot deal– parents are in it for the long haul, and that means being annoying and repeating ourselves a lot.
It’s worth the effort to raise decent human beings who are aware they are not the only people walking this earth. If annoying them makes them realize how capable they are of doing things themselves, then I’m in. Yes, there are times when I’ve realized it would be so much less effort to just do something myself, but I hold strong.
Soon the effort I put into getting them to help themselves and pull their weight will pay off. I’d rather put in the work now, bug the hell out of them, and watch them go off on their own with confidence and a willingness to work hard because they are used to doing it at home because they have an “annoying” mom who refused to do certain things for them just because it was easier.
The truth is, we want to raise amazing kids, and you just can’t do that without a bunch of nagging and annoyance thrown in, it’s just not how this works.