Tuesday, August 5, 2008

So, This is Where it Gets REALLY Hard

My kids are good kids.

They were good babies. My son cried- a lot. My daughter, not as much. I think she was easier than him for a few reasons. First, I had experience. I had been through newborn-hood with our son and it was tough. He had his issues and at points I felt like they were daunting. But he prepared me. I thought for sure our daughter was going to be harder. She was a preemie. She was little. She had reflux. But she wasn't. She was pretty laid back as an infant. Fairly easy to handle. I was lucky.

I'm not saying that the past 3.5 years have been some fabulous walk in the park with my kids but as infants go, I think I did pretty ok. I thought there were hard times. I cried a lot. I asked questions a lot. I second guessed myself a lot. But we did good. They're still alive, right?

Now, though, I feel like it's getting harder.

Now, I feel like I'm really being tested as a parent.

Now, I really feel like I have no friggin' clue what I'm doing and I hate it.

(I'm going to use I from now on but know that my husband is included in this)

I have a pre-school 3.5 year old boy and a toddler almost 17 month old girl. They are wonderful. They make me laugh. They make me pull my hair out. They drive me insane. They are the lights of my life. You knew all that.

They really are good kids. Seriously. I'm not just saying that because I'm their mom. They are. My son is getting better and better at not having to be told to say please and thank you. He'll be the most polite 22 year old wearing diapers! My daughter is starting to say excuse me when she burps and she's saying thank you, now, too. Manners-wise they are good.

Yes, they have their moments. My daughter can throw a world class temper tantrum like you wouldn't believe! Arms and legs kicking, screaming crying. All of it. And all because I told her she couldn't play with a knife. (I know, I'm such a bitch!) My son has learned to talk back. He doesn't do it a lot but he does it enough that the time-out step has gained a 3 year old sized butt print over the past few months.

My concern is that I don't know how to handle these moments. I don't know if what I'm doing is right. I don't know if what I'm doing is helping or hurting the situation. I don't know what I'm doing.


Let's take tonight for instance. We went out with my parents. A very nice time at a community event and for the most part, the boy was ok. Before we left he was off the freaking wall and he sad in time-out for three minutes because he was not listening. That helped a bit. But my nerves were on edge. I had a horrible headache and he was just touching on every single frayed edge of nerve endings that I had left. I was at my wits end!

We went out to the event. He enjoyed himself. He was a bit whiny at points, but he hadn't napped all day and he was hopped up on sugar. Afterwards we went and got some pizza with my parents. I was on edge because everything that came out of his mouth was in the form of a whine or a cry and that drives me C-R-A-Z-Y!

I didn't know what to do. I threatened leaving. I threatened taking things away. I grabbed at every and any straw I could think of to get my then monster of a 3 year old to just. calm. down.

Luckily, the master, my mother stepped in. THANK GOD. My son was on his way to the pizza ovens if I had anything to say about it. She pulled him aside. She talked to him. She forced him to look at her and concentrate on what she was saying. She did not yell. She did not threaten. She did not scold. She talked. She asked him if he liked going to restaurants with everyone. She asked him if he wanted to be a big boy like pop-pop and daddy. She got him to focus on positives rather than negatives.

He was good. Really good during dinner. He ate. He sat. He whined a little bit when his sister attempted to eat his crayons, but who wouldn't?! He finished his entire meal and then politely asked for the candy that had been tempting him all through dinner. He wasn't good because he had been bribed.

He was just good.

Sometimes I feel like I don't have that power over my son. Over either of my kids. Sometimes I feel like I don't have any control over them. I feel like my son doesn't listen. I feel like my daughter's temper tantrums are a reflection on me and my parenting. (We don't give in to her tantrums. We walk away from her.) I feel like some days I'm just not doing this right and it's just getting harder and how am I possibly going to make it them being teenagers if I can barely handle them as a 1 year old and a 3 year old!??!

Obviously, my parents had to learn somewhere. They were not born parents. My mom claims my sister and I never threw temper tantrums. Maybe we didn't but I find that hard to believe, especially recalling myself as a child. I know that my parents had to have these same thoughts- I hope. I know that other parents have these same thoughts.

I just hate the idea that I'm not doing something right for my child.

I don't want my kids to be THOSE kids. You know the ones who back talk their parents and tell them to shut up. The ones who seem to have the parents on a very short leash and control all their movements with a fierce tug or a sharp tongue. You know the ones I'm talking about. I'm afraid of my kids being THOSE kids and I'm also afraid that maybe I don't know how to keep them from being those kids.

I guess I just hoped after the sleepless nights and the reflux and endless worry about SIDS and bottles and binkies for too long, it might get easier. Apparently not.

Apparently, this is where it gets really hard. And please don't tell me that this is nothing and it just gets harder as they get older because I really don't think I can take that right now!



Alison said...

I have felt the same way many times, you are not alone, nor is your situation unique. My kids did the same thing, and sometimes still do! They are always better for my parents, the neighbors, the teachers, anyone but their parents. My son's wise preschool teacher once told me that he behaved the way he did at home because he could relax and let off all the steam and stress he held in when he was in public. He was comfortable with me, at home. I took that as a compliment, that I was a good mom because my son could relax with me and let me see all sides of him, good and bad. Your children are the same way, that means you are a good mom. It does get easier, trust me, these days will pass, and then you will miss them, tantrums and all. I now can look back on these days with my son and laugh about the tantrums he pulled in public...you will too. You are doing a great job...relax and believe in yourself. One day you will be a Grandma and your children will be in awe of you disciplining your grandchildren....the cirlce of life.

The Sports Mama said...

Having been there, I can confirm that yes.. you will ALL survive. :)

Yes, it gets harder. I'd be lying if I told you differently. BUT... it also gets more rewarding.

When your children can actively share their lives with you, not just allow you to share it with them. When they include you. When they come to you for advice, even if its just help with homework. When their hearts fill with the wonders, and then break from the drama, of first loves.

Football games. Choir concerts. Dance recitals. School plays. School dances. Watching them navigate those waters, feeling the pride that comes with knowing that you've provided them with the base knowledge to learn from the mistakes that you will (grudgingly) allow them to make.

Oh yeah. It might get harder. But it gets so much better!

Kate said...

I haven't had this experience as a mom, but I have as a teacher. It's a hard age. I think that Alison has a good point about behaving differently at home b/c he is more comfortable.

LunaNik said...

Oh boy, we are going thru similiar situations because our kids are the same age. My oldest is getting a bit opinionated and bossy. Not good. My youngest could win the prize for the longest tantrum ever. Me...I just take a deep breath (and a coupla valium) and handle it the best I can. We are not new parents, you and I, yet we are not quite the seasoned professionals that our elders are. As much as we have learned about parenting in the last few years, there is still much we have to experience. Will it get easier? Damn, I hope so, but I doubt it. My guess is that we will always be hoping our kids don't become THOSE kids and that we don't become THOSE type of parents. My guess is we will second guess every instinct we have and every decision we make. Fingers crossed we don't screw our kids up real good. ;)

Helen E.M. Wright said...

I have those days, weeks, maybe months!

We have chosen to pick our battles. I know that my son has a mischievous streak (he comes by it honestly) but I also know that my son says please & thank you, excuse me, pardon me, and knows whatever other manners are needed AND HE USES THEM!

I'm hoping that it will cancel each other out!

Alison is dead on about being different outside the house. Think about it! We, as adults act differently, how could children not?

As for others being better with your children. That's because they are not always there AND they can give them back. It's much easier being civil with a crazy child when you know it's only for so long.

Sometimes you just need the low times in life so that the high ones will be so much better.


When we have our little, we're horrible parents times we really set boundaries. We try and not blow our top and talk as well as follow through with all discipline.

One of our 'times' it had gotten (what we think) so bad that our son ate in his room by himself and then went straight to bed. This to him is the worst punishment ever since he NEEDS people around. He's not needy he is just so social.

As for you not having tantrums as children. Let's look at childbirth...what do you remember more, the pain or seeing your child's face for the first time?!?

Just to make you feel better...there are A LOT more of us out there!

LaskiGal said...

You are in my head . . . I feel this way all the time (and J is only --almost--1).

I am a sponge for advice (as long as it isn't forced upon me or given in a condescending way--that'll send me into orbit). Like, if you don't want it to become a habit, don't do it. YOU are the mommy (not them). FIRM. FAIR. CONSISTENT.(I used this one with great success in the classroom). Show NO fear (or is that the advice for dealing with a lion? Hmm. Same thing.)

I don't know what the heck I'm talking about . . . all I know is that I have met some pretty cracked parents (hello, mine) and their kids (hello, me) turned out decent (decent enough).

You are gonna do awesome 'cause you actually think about these things AND because you WANT to be a good mom who wants what is BEST for her children.

My goal for now . . . keep him alive.

My posts begging for parenting advice are just around the corner. Please be there for me :)

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