Motherhood Moments: Controlled Distraction, or Playing With Tampons
 
 
 
 
The key to children is knowing which battles you can afford to lose
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Photo Photo Courtesy Reghan Hailey

I walked into the bathroom the other day and was surprised to see something laying in the sink: two brand new tampons puffed full of water. Once I recognized what they were, I laughed. I remembered that I let my daughter play with them the night before. I don't typically make it a habit to waste hygiene products, but sometimes you just need your kid to mind their own business. I wouldn't believe you if you told me there were parents out there who don't occasionally turn a blind eye to their kids enjoying an activity that's less than desirable. Whether it's for two minutes or ten, we all need a break now and then. Why else would we have been made to need bathroom breaks? Or sleep?

In our family, we employ an unofficial method of parenting; what I like to call "controlled distraction". (In the parenting book I'll never write, it'll be found in the "Preservation of Sanity" chapter.) This is similar to redirection, but the beauty of it is that your child thinks it's their idea. This is a crucial factor of success for my bold and energetic toddler. She's an opportunist; so I can give her little wins here and there without sacrificing my (often disputed) role as her leader. Win-win!

I'm not competitive, nor am I a choosy beggar. I can lose a few battles if it means I win the war. (Also a chapter in the parenting book I'll never write: "Parenting Isn't A War Except When It Totally Is".) If I interrupt a potty break of my own to chase my daughter around the house to retrieve the tampons she stole from the bathroom drawer, who's the real loser in the situation? I'll gladly risk finding a couple of deconstructed tampons laying around if it means I get to use the restroom in peace - whatever the new definition of "peace" is when you become a parent.

When I imagine myself being a mom, the image is pretty disconnected from reality. Fantasy Reghan is never tired. Her patience meter is always full. She's perky and sweet, her children always do exactly what she asks, and they listen and accept any life wisdom she imparts in teachable moments. In summary, she's 100% fictional and probably also impossible. As a real human, I need reprieve and refreshment. To survive between rare date nights and even rarer vacations, you gotta do what you gotta do. In some cases, that means seeing your toddler with your toothbrush and preemptively deciding to just start using a new one. (Advice to include in my nonexistent parenting book: Always have extra toothbrushes.)

There's always a chance that my future self will be appalled at my seemingly willy-nilly methods, but if future me exists, I'll owe myself a thanks, because those very methods kept me just sane enough to live another day. If there's one thing I've learned since becoming a mom, it's that it really does take a village. And, not only does it take a village, but it also takes lots of concessions sprinkled here and there to keep the majority of the people in the village mentally sound at any given time.

If I ever write that parenting book, it might suffice to just say, "Chapter 1: IDK, just wing it like everybody else." End of book.

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