Raising Toddlers.

I saw this post and loved it enough to repost. There are few articles that I feel nail it on the head when it comes to small children and this succeeds.

4 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was Parenting Toddlers the First Time Around

1. It really is this hard. You’re not doing anything wrong.

“If I could go back, I would say, relax. Tantrums, running away, accidents, lost belongings, mischievous nap times… it’s all a normal part of toddler life. I wasn’t making life harder than necessary. Raising two toddlers really is just that hard.”

Feelings.

Maya-AngelouSomething I am struggling with lately is the epiphany that I have to be the person I want my children to become. I try to demonstrate kindness, caring for others, love, patience, etc. However, more important than the kids seeing me like that with others, is me being that way with them.

Those wonderful characteristics fail me when all hell breaks loose. When every button is expertly pressed, over and over, and I loose my temper. I often wonder, if I can’t be the person I want the kids to be, does that mean I’m a horrible person? I’d like to have a quick answer that we are all imperfect and being imperfect doesn’t equate that someone is horrible. Great. Off the hook. But I don’t want to be a perfect person. I want to be a kind, loving, warm parent and there’s just a lot of times that I am not.

I am hard on myself because it’s the most important job I’ve ever had, and will ever have. I need to shift my mental priorities. Keep working, keep trying. These golden days of two young children will be over soon, and it will break my heart if I don’t surround them in the love and warmth they deserve.

Maya Angelou’s quote has resonated deeply with me and it’s sinking into my parenting a bit. I think back to my childhood memories and yes, mostly I remember a person by how they made me feel. How do I make my children feel? In thinking about parenting from that aspect, I’ve begun to change how I communicate with the kids. Not always, because my temper still can get the better of me, but overall I am improving. A little. It’s surprising how quickly we can lose sight of this. Just having an awareness for their feelings, mentally acknowledging that their heads are full of swirling emotions and some sort of logic (at least to them) will change how you approach them.

How do they feel? How do they feel? Yes, they’ll be sad when a toy breaks or they don’t get what they want. Being mindful of feelings doesn’t involve shielding children from their usual daily crises, but it absolutely creates an awareness of how I interact with them. It’s not about making your child happy or making sure they feel good, it’s communication based on a deep level of respect. How I cope with something is how they’ll cope with it later on. How I talk with them, comfort them, teach them, will turn into their very foundation. It will become their inner voice. It’s getting down to eye level and calmly talking about things. Asking questions and getting answers. Often those little people have more answers than we realize.

Potty Training. An open letter to the Universe.

IMG_2510Dear Universe,

Please. I am done with pee and poop. It’s been years. Did you hear me? YEARS! Not only do I have a blind dog that randomly pees around the house, I’m onto year number six of cleaning poop from bums. And now we are potty training. Odd as it sounds, I think I almost prefer diapers to this potty training business. At least it is predictable. While my three year old does a great job of using the potty when he’s naked, the little mental patient doesn’t understand that underwear isn’t a diaper and without fail, will soil himself. The unmistakable scent of urine wafts permanently through the house now no matter how many loads of laundry I do.  So we live in a constant state of red alert. You never know when those accidents are going to happen. Asking him if he needs to go potty just antagonizes him. He’ll go when he’s ready, and refuses to think ahead on these matters.

I understand this is a transitional phase. But it’s as much fun as when kids transition to dropping naps. Napping is great, not napping is great. But that hellish phase in between? Oh yeah baby!

So please look down kindly on us. My washing machine could do with a break and my sanity could do with saving.

Thank you.
The Ragged Mommy.

P.S.  Seriously, how does one get rid of this smell from clothes?

 

Single Moms.

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.

nature 2_0In 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.

So, back to being a bad parent.

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.

What.The.F&*K.

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).

1003716_10151588618398860_619910048_nI 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.

“You’re Wrong, Do This, Stop Everything, You’re Making a Mistake.”

808I 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.

I’m a Schmuck.

994710_10151975608633860_692108589_nMy 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.

Ideas?