I salute you. I tip my hat to you. I raise you above my shoulders in celebration, because I have no idea how the hell you do it.
My husband has been away for a week, so it’s just been me and the kids. And it’s by the sheer grace of God that they live. There is no break. No one to vent to. No one to field the ever present tantrum to. No one else to do bedtime, breakfast, bathtime, playtime, you name it. Our bedtime events have been nothing short of catastrophic because by the end of the day, I’m a disastrous mound of stress.
In the morning, the hours spread out ahead of me like a looming guillotine. Hours that I have to fill, balance and moderate until the mental patients are asleep. And then we do it all over again the next day. I have a hard time managing even when I know this situation is only temporary. To do this permanently would send me to the same mental institution that my children escaped from.
It astounds me, you astound me, that you do this every single day with no respite. You simply are amazing.
Whether it’s exhaustion or just frustration from two young children (seriously, how does anyone do more than two?), I’ve come close to reaching my limit. It has strangely coincided with my son roaring his way into the Threes. Now, things have morphed to where I am beyond sensitive parenting. I’m past caring what damage I do. Sometimes I just have to shut behaviors down. For example, today my son was joyously jumping up and down that he had peed in the potty. I give him my best ever happy face, a cheek-splitting-smile while telling him how happy I am for him. He bounces his way over to me and then he bites my leg.
Immediately, I tell him no biting. Instead of being sorry, or even looking sheepish, he defiantly says “I bite Mommy.” Well then, thank you very much. After this behavior, I’m a whole lot less likely to care when he has a tantrum. I wonder if this is nature’s way of pulling me back emotionally. He’s not so endearing when he looks like Dracula. There is no logic to this three-year old beast. His repeated outbursts of ridiculousness remind me daily that he’s an escaped mental patient. The constant exposure I have to this has also somewhat numbed me to the screaming (mine and his).
I will admit that more often than not, the answer to his tantrum is very simple. Sometimes, when I calm down and look straight at him, he will lower the decibel. And then I close up the issue, whatever it was, by asking him if he wants a hug. Because he always does. He screams and freaks out regularly, because so much of this world is beyond his control. When he is frustrated or angry or sad or simply not getting what he wants, the outpouring of any emotion is a tantrum. As if the intensity of the emotion is too big for his little body and it has to come out somehow. Which leaves him feeling drained and sad, and in need of some loving. That’s where the hugs come in. As a mother, you know when that moment is – when the fight is over and they just need a hug. Sometimes I don’t want to give a hug, but I do it because it lets him know that I am there for him, even if I want to strangle him. Inevitably, 30 seconds later, he is back to his old happy self, as if nothing ever happened (how do they do this??).
Mother nature has a funny way of working. This struggle may be her design or it may simply be because I am clueless as to what I am doing. I never had the twos- or threes-issue with my daughter (her fours were another matter of affairs!). Either way, it’s kicking my ass.
(No idea where it came from, so I can’t give original credit.)
I am so tired of scrolling through Facebook or any parenting magazine and being bombarded with articles telling me that I am doing
something everything wrong. Headlines such as “5 mistakes you’re making before 10am” or “Everything you know is wrong” can kiss my ass. We’re all already full of self-doubt. We don’t need to be lambasted with more factors and variations on how we all are doing things incorrectly.
The truth of the matter is most websites and magazines are selling advertising, so preying on people’s doubts (what if I really am wrong?) gets people to click on their links, upping website traffic and hence, increasing income for the website. Doubt is a very lucrative business. You can be introduced to hundreds more doubts and fears that you never even knew existed. Then they get to make even more money off you. Don’t let others dictate what works for your family.
Here’s the thing; if it feels wrong to you, then it’s wrong. If it feels right to you, then it’s right. We’ve all stopped listening to ourselves, our gut, stopped looking at our own family and finding what works for each of us and instead, we check what someone else thinks. As long as a child isn’t being abused, physically or emotionally, then do what works for your family.
I yell. I hate that about myself and I struggle with it. Yelling feels wrong to me. I logically know this, I emotionally know this. But often times, my buttons are pressed to the point where I snap and hell is unleashed (ok, it’s not really that bad). It’s something I actively work on every day. Most of the other stuff I do, I’m content with. I’m not perfect. I will never be the ridiculously unattainable perfect parent according to the books and articles. For that, I am fully at peace.
So stop letting others criticize you. Stop reading every article to check if you are doing something wrong. Trust yourself. Trust that you are doing the best for your child, for the person(s) you love most in the world. Love your child the best you can. Believe in yourself. Family life is so much better when you do.
My patience is not never-ending, and by the end of the day, I’m usually pretty frayed. Which is why I absolutely suck at the bedtime routine. The slightest, always probable obstacle to a smooth bedtime process puts me in the foulest of moods and I end the night being angry at my children. I don’t ever want to end a day like that, and too often on the days that I put them to bed (thankfully rare), that’s how it ends up.
Normally, the spirited one (5 years old) is bouncing off the bed or doing handstands against the wall. The youngest (3 years old) is exhausted and just wants to go to sleep, but the squealing upside down tornado prohibits this. As I soothe him with belly rubs, the hurricane is belting out Jingle Bells and it’s only when I get angry that she slows herself down a little. Only then will she try to whisper Jingle Bells. So that’s how it ends. Me angry. Feeling like a schmuck.
Inevitably, my guilt burns at me and I have to go check on them a while later, to kiss their little faces and tell them how much I love them. Best case scenario is they are both asleep. But tonight, the typhoon was still awake. Frankly, I’m not sure tranquilizer darts would work on her. So I snuggled her for half an hour, kissed her face over and over, told her how much I loved her. But I still wish it was different. No, I wish I was different.
I’m tired of punishments. I’m tired of taking away whatever the flavor of the day is in order to get the behavior I want. I’m tired of making threats and having to carry them through. I’ve gotten much better during the day but I’m still ragged by the end of the evening. I want an alternative to “do XYZ or else . . .” but I have no idea what that alternative is.
Amid the chaos of normal daily life, there comes the gift of a day where you don’t have anywhere to go or anything planned. Today was such a day. The kids didn’t get dressed until 1 pm, when I made a fleeting attempt to go to the grocery store, but then I decided could survive without going (see this!). The kids watched a solid 5 hours of TV before I shut it off and now they are playing together.
I have no problem with them watching TV or playing on the iPad. I don’t need to be Supermom and have 8 hours of crafts lined up. Pinterest can kiss my ass. My value as a parent is not defined by whether or not I let them be bored or how creative I am. I’m not here to entertain my children. I am not their playmate. I’m here to teach them, and the ability to amuse themselves is a very important lesson to learn. Not having everything lined up for them means they need to use their imagination and come up with their own games. Inevitably, they always do.
As long as no one is bleeding, I don’t need to get involved.