Category Archives: Frustrations

Remember – you have no idea what is going on.

281963_10150247593243860_371690_nSee that toddler freaking out over there? Yeah, the one that makes you think “Oh dear God,” and all sorts of thoughts run through your head? Or the child who begs for chocolate at the checkout line and you watch in horror as mommy or daddy cave? That used to be me watching and wondering.

When I sat on my childless perch, I could solve any parenting problem at a glance. With ease, I could be your executioner in the parenting battlefield. And then I had a child. Yes, you can snicker. Because no other singular act teaches you that you know absolutely nothing than the arrival of a child.

I walked through the grocery store yesterday afternoon, with my 5-year-old preschooler sitting in the shopping cart wearing her cupcake pajamas. My 3-year-old was manically running through the store. I’m now at the point where I don’t care about the looks I get. I accept now that these people, whom I will never see again, don’t understand that it was Pajama Day in school or that they both had really long days the day before so they are both cranky and tired. However, I needed to get milk. I ignore the looks I get because even if these other people are put out by my kids’ behaviors, I don’t have the effort within me to care what they think. I couldn’t even be bothered to explain. Most of the time when I snap at my children, it’s because I’m the one stressed out. I’m panicking about what other people think. If I take away the fear of other people’s thoughts or reactions, things become a lot less stressful.

Most of the time, when you see a parent that seems like they’re out of their depth, they probably are. That doesn’t mean they are incompetent.  It may just be that they’re having a really bad day. You don’t know if a loved one passed away. You don’t know if someone else lost their job. Perhaps the rent is overdue or the mortgage is defaulting. You could be looking at a mother who hasn’t had any sleep for five years. Perhaps a growth spurt is to blame (my two turn into unholy terrors during growth spurts). That possessed devil you see running amok may have been an angel just an hour ago. Maybe it’s a simple as a missed nap. Maybe, just maybe, what you are seeing is someone who is doing their best, but needs help, or it’s a child who has just reached their limit on what they can absorb and contain.

Sometimes, very small gestures of kindness can turn a day around. When you see that baby freaking out in front of you, start a game of peek-a-boo. Begin a conversation with the preschooler to distract him/her just long enough that mommy can swipe her debit card and get everyone out the door. A little nod of understanding or a smile also can go a long way. A look of disdain or disapproval does nothing but aggravate an already stressful situation. When we choose to be nicer to each other, everyone wins.

Something else happens when you do this. Your day gets brighter too.

 

Are you freaking kidding me??

I’m just looking at an article regarding the new school lunch requirements that have been put into place, effective this upcoming summer.  Here’s what I’m reading (full article here):

“The School Nutrition Association has asked Congress and USDA to only require that 50 percent of foods be whole grain-rich, to suspend the 2017 sodium requirements and to stop requiring students to take a fruit or vegetable.”

Frankly, I’m speechless. Sure sure, kids won’t want it to start with. Whatever. Kids also don’t want to go to bed at an appropriate time, or get dressed, or do homework, or etc. etc. etc. . .

Guess what a hungry child will do? Eat.  It may be rough to start with while kids adjust to less processed food, but to request that standards be lowered leaves me speechless and angry.

How about we stop trying to please children and do what’s best for them? How about schools stop worrying about sales dips? How about we start putting our children first, ahead of business needs and profit margins?

I don’t understand. Or actually, I do. I understand that the food industry has to change how their food is marketed to kids, how the ingredients have to become a little more healthy and that they can’t laden down all foods with salt and sugar to make it appealing to the underdeveloped taste buds. That puts a dampener on the industry’s activities and profits. Well too damn bad.

Stay tuned . . .

Thank You

In striving to be average, I try to keep it real. This parenting thing is hard. So damn hard. But so few people really talk about this. Everything is supposed to be sunshine and rainbows, I’m supposed to be madly in love with my children at all times of the day, have infinite patience, UN negotiation skills, never ending energy, and do it all with a smile on my face.

I am grateful that my children are in my life because my soul became complete when they were born. They have taught me what unconditional love really means, in receiving it and giving it. I am blessed so much.  But let’s be realistic. I don’t always like my children.

I appreciate other parents who are willing to be honest about this struggle. Thank you for the nod of understanding when my child misbehaves. Or suggesting “it must be nap time” when my youngest had a meltdown in the grocery store, instead of just assuming he was a rotten kid. Thank you for recognizing that kids have ‘off’ days too and sometimes, we won’t even know what is going on with them until a few days later (sickness hits or a growth spurt, or they are worried about some upcoming event). Overall, my kids are very well behaved, but like us adults, they do have days where they just aren’t feeling right. It doesn’t matter what I do, most times it is beyond my control.

Thank you for the kind words when it becomes clear I’m in over my head. That even though I am an adult, with a psychology & sociology degree, I am still sometimes stumped, frustrated and anguished by the little people I created. Thank you for telling me your stories of how you have struggled, because I feel like less of a failure when you do. Thank you for being real with me.

I am not Mary Poppins, Lucille Ball and Martha Stewart all wrapped into one, and I absolutely don’t want to be. I want to be good role model for my children, I want them to be happy, healthy children, who most importantly, are given the opportunity to be children. I want my children to realize how amazing they are and that’s it’s OK to have a bad day. I can teach them how to pick themselves up, look forward, try again. In my struggle to parent, I can show them that we can always try to improve, try harder when we want to. Because I do share with them when I struggle with parenting (at least my 5 year old understands me), and I let them know when Mommy needs to try harder.  I apologize when I am in the wrong – when I haven’t listened properly or I’ve yelled. I let them know I am not perfect and that they deserve to be treated with respect and love. And then I try harder.

I teach them that their actions have consequences, and are also opportunities for learning. That parents are not blank walls that can be subjected to unlimited blasts of toddler and preschool whims and tantrums. That their choices directly affect their day and the outcome of any situation.  Just like it does for Mommy and Daddy.

Maybe, just maybe, by being an average parent, I can teach my children the coping skills needed for the imperfect world they live in.

Today’s Battle.

I have a 5 year old daughter. Politely, she is called a “spirited child” but in reality, she’s a hurricane, and a tornado. An intense child who feels things everything passionately. Everything. She will love you hard, she will hate you hard, her anger parallels the wrath of God. She will outsmart you in the worst possible way, because she will do it subversively. Not until she is close to her goal will I realize what she has done. She will miss you, hug you, love you, like you’ve never experienced before. To me, she is awe inspiring. A force of nature. I look at her and she takes my breath away. But it’s not easy.

This week has been particularly hard because her little brother turned three years old on Monday. That means he received presents and she didn’t. My first glimpse of this joy happened last year when she was four, and he two. I’m hoping it gets better with age. On the day itself, she did pretty well. But the week has proved very challenging. She has taken to hiding his new games. And on reprimand, the attitude comes out. Oh my, the attitude. She’s a little body with a huge personality. Often times, she just can’t control what comes out, because she feels it so fiercely. Many times, she can astound us with how controlled she can be.

She just discovered that a friend of hers colored a page of her coloring book. The unused coloring book that hasn’t been given a second glance since she received it.  Ever. But suddenly, she was indignant that a page was used. Despite imparting to her that the page was used with my permission, she would not quit. There are just some things she focuses on and as with everything else of her nature, the laser beams are set.

In a fleeting thought, the ‘perfect parent’ would have sat her down and explained everything ad nauseam until she understood. Instead, I walked upstairs to do laundry after Daddy told her she couldn’t have the coloring book anymore (she never uses them, this isn’t a big loss here). She quickly followed me, hysterical, because I’m the easy parent. So I tried to do the right thing. I sat with her on my bed and I talked to her about how the used coloring page was a present from her friend, a surprise for her. But the only thing she could focus on getting that coloring book back from Daddy. Daddy took it away and she wanted Mommy to give it back.

Unfortunately, despite my calm discussions, she exploded and began something that she hasn’t done in years. She threw a tantrum. So now she sits in her room, quietly. Oddly enough, since she is an extrovert, sitting in her room (not a hardship here, there are toys and books in there) for a while seems to center her and she usually emerges a much calmer person.

I’ll take some deep breaths.

Is it bedtime yet?