We’ve all been there. You’re at a party, most likely a relative’s house, and it’s already 8:30pm. It’s almost an hour past your kid’s bedtime. You notice your child rubbing her eyes, and you know if you don’t leave soon that angelic face is about to pop two horns out of it’s forehead and start tearing that party apart. So you quietly tell your husband to grab her jacket. It’s time to leave. As soon as that small human sized jacket is in public view you hear, “Leaving already!” from across the room. Aunt So-And-So has spotted you, and is now alerting the others. Shit…. you think to yourself. With a half smile and the feeling of guilt setting in you sigh and begin the awkward back and forth between family members as to why you need to leave, and why your little one needs to get to bed.
“But, it’s the holidays!” or “She’s having so much fun!” or “She can handle one more hour!” At some point you’ll hear a variation of all three of those pleas to stay. That’s the point where you as a parent have to make a decision: do you really want to win the popularity contest? Your next action should demonstrate your answer is no, but sometimes peer pressure sets in and you feel like your 18 again, and you still want to fit in with the cool kids.
Everyone of us will have that moment when we make a decision that is not exactly in the best interest of our child. Inevitably, you will learn a hard lesson. That typically involves a miserable child that didn’t sleep well through the night, but still decides to get up at the exact time she gets up every morning. Once you experience this lesson, you realize very quickly how stupid those popularity contests are anyways. The next time you experience this test you promise yourself you won’t be deterred. But, that promise won’t stop you from feeling bad when the inquiries start to flow and the pleas resume. You’re only human, remember.
That’s the important thing about being a parent: you aren’t the cool kid anymore, and that’s alright. You have to be responsible to your child, and try to do what’s best for her at all times. Other people will try to influence you, pressure you, maybe even make you feel bad about the decisions you are making. But, they don’t have to go home with the consequences of your decisions. It’s ok that you’re going to be the first family to leave a party every time, it’s ok that you are going to turn down two events in the same day, it’s ok that your kid is in on a strict schedule. You’re the parent and that kid deserves the best which means hard decisions for you. Trust me, Aunt So-And-So will get over it. And in reality, most people understand what you’re going through. You just have to remember at the end of the day it’s much better to win the “Mom of the Century” award then some stupid popularity contest.