09/26/2011 03:16 pm ET Updated Nov 26, 2011

There Goes "Mom of the Year" Honors! My Award-Winning Lesson on Personal Responsibility

I just blew my shot at "Mom of the Year." Again. Like a pop-up thundershower, a storm that I didn't even know was brewing inside of me instantly escalated to flood stage when my daughter said casually, "Mama, I don't care for the blueberry pudding." I heard my own non-sensical words shoot forth:

  • "You begged me for it at the store."
  • "I am so tired of you asking for everything when we are out shopping and then not even wanting it by the time we get home."
  • "If you don't eat it now, don't ask me for anything else to eat today. There will be no other snacks and I mean it!"
And the kicker...
  • "Don't ever ask me to buy any more junk food at the grocery store again, young lady."

You know you're in trouble when your mom busts out the "young lady" designation -- a term worse than being called by your first and middle name.

So, what was the big deal anyway? Why was I so angry? Since when do I work so hard to convince my kids to eat a sugary dessert?

I wish I could explain away my sudden delirium by saying that I was sleep-deprived or stressed from a long day, or at least suffering from low blood sugar. But in truth, I was well-rested, relaxed, and recently-fed. For a solid 20 minutes after my pudding tirade, I said over and over to myself that:

  • "The kids are gonna have to pay me every time they plead for something and then don't want it/use it/eat it/like it," and
  • "We are gonna have rules about not asking for things at the store anymore," and
  • "Things are gonna change around here."

But what I really figured out after venting sufficiently in my own head was that any real change was gonna have to start with me! I was the mom who was carried away by the ease of saying yes in the pudding aisle. I am the parent who sometimes tries too hard to avoid the bad feelings associated with saying no. I made a poor parenting decision when I chose to let my kids get a sugary dessert that we didn't need in a flavor I could have guessed they wouldn't like.

Would I prefer they didn't ask me for such items in the supermarket/mall/craft aisle/department store? Of course. Is teaching them not to ask for what they want the answer? Of course not. While I didn't treat myself to quite the same earful my kids received, I did lecture myself sternly:

  • "My job as a parent is much bigger than satisfying my kids' every whim. I am ultimately responsible for being willing to say 'yes' and being able to say 'no.'"
  • "I'm gonna have to say no to unnecessary purchases and be okay with whatever disappointment my kids feel."
  • Being a good mom doesn't always equate to feeling good in the moment -- for me or for my kids. Deal with it. Disappointment happens. You can't always get what you want. Life isn't always fair. Blah, blah, blah.

The good thing about "Mom of the Year" honors is that kids give you lots and lots of opportunities for do overs.