Parenting Karma

In parenthood, everything comes full circle

By: Monica Sakala

The further I get into the trenches of parenthood, the more I believe in karma. When I was a kid, I used to lecture my parents on how inadequately they were raising my two youngest sisters. I documented their flawed judgment calls, their inconsistencies in discipline, their weak moments, usually from the back seat of our Volkswagen van as we headed off on long drives.

Why couldn’t they rule with the iron fist that clearly I suffered under and that had made me so completely awesome? Why did they let my sisters become so bratty, I wondered aloud to them and to anyone else who would listen. Why was I the only one who could see how easy it was to do the right thing?

I was setting myself up for a fall.

Now I realize that parenting is hard and not as black and white as my past self declared it to be. Until a few weeks ago, however, I still managed to cling to some of my past self’s snap-judgment superior attitude, thanks to one thing: Supernanny. Frankly, watching the show makes me feel awesome. I’m ready to apply for the mother-of-year award after even ten minutes of Supernanny: The kids are such monsters, the wimpy parents don’t know how to find a firm voice for fear of their kids hating them, and the overly aggressive dad is always yelling. It’s such an entertaining train wreck. All of the families’ problems are so obvious to me from the perspective of my comfy sofa on Friday nights. Just like all of my parent’s flaws were so obvious to me from the backseat of our van.

A few weeks ago, my older daughter decided it was fun to watch the show with me. Initially, I let her get away with it because I couldn’t believe she would watch something not animated and not on Nick Jr.

But the episode we watched, the one that successfully deflated my superior parenting ego, featured something that actually plays out in my house each night and is the bane of my existence: the toddler on my hip as I’m trying to cook dinner because otherwise she screams and cries and tries to climb up my legs.

I was aghast. I was seeing a reflection of my own life on the very show I watch to confirm I’m an awesome parent. Supernanny was busy lecturing the mom about boundaries and how the kid needed to learn there’s a time and a place for her. Apparently, for the sane and rational thinkers out there, it seems obvious that being on Mommy’s hip while four burners are going on the stove is not the place for an erratic toddler.

Meanwhile, my five-year-old was still eagerly watching the show, asking questions, and otherwise enjoying our Friday-night TV time. Little did I know what she was really doing was picking up tips on how I’m supposed to be disciplining her little sister. Sound familiar?

She didn’t let on right away, but a few days later, I’m dealing with a screaming toddler on a Monday morning and my five-year-old is lecturing “Now, Mommy, Supernanny would put her in time out for that—why aren’t you doing that? She’s being so bad.”

Thanks, discipline police, how old are you again? She’s like the second coming of past-me!

Mirror mirror on the wall . . . is that you? It turns out I’m not the fairest of them all. Apparently I should be applying for Supernanny. This was a real parenting low for me. Who else can I judge if my home mirrors what I’ve just seen on Supernanny and my five-year-old is lecturing me on utilizing time-outs? My parents get the last laugh.

Subscribe to Washingtonian
Follow Washingtonian on Twitter