I am having some serious doubts about this parenting gig.
As much as I want to not have disobedient, whiny, fractious children, as much as I believe in parenting by instinct and not by the book(s), as much as I am trying to be a good mother to my children — not by being a Good Mother, but by doing my best by them as my flawed, imperfect self enables me to — I am starting to worry.
The end goal for me parenting-wise is to raise well-adjusted, happy, responsible adults. I don’t propose to do that by parenting out of a book. I don’t propose to do that by being a helicopter parent. I don’t propose to do that by being super-strict or loosey goosey. I don’t propose to do that by giving my children everything they want.
I also don’t propose that any of the ways in which I am choosing to parent my children is going to be the way you should parent your children.
But on Saturday morning, I came smack up against the idea that maybe “this” isn’t working. Whatever the hell this is.
You know how you say, “I will turn this car around if you don’t knock it off” to your children?
Yeah, I turned the car around.
I am seeking to be a little more quiet with my children — I hate to yell at them. I find it very stressful, and they find it very upsetting. A lot of times this means I have to walk away from them — give myself a little time out. A lot of times this means I have to put them into time out in their room, set a timer (usually 2 minutes for Bun, and 4 or 5 minutes for Monkey), and walk away from the tantrum.
I do not want to spank my children. I do, still, sometimes. But less often than I feel like it. As I’m typing this I am thinking that I don’t remember the last time I actually spanked them (I’m sure I had the urge recently, but I didn’t do it. That’s progress).
I am picking my battles. However, I’m not 100% convinced I’m picking the right battles.
Saturday, we were scheduled to be in Meadville for my youngest nephew’s baptism. The girls and I were going to drive there, then go the rest of the way to Erie. DearDR was going to drive up after work so he and I could attend my 20th high school reunion.
I managed to get everything and everyone in the car and pulling out of the driveway by 10:30. I had to stop for gas. On the way to the gas station, I had to reprimand Monkey about five times. Hell, I had to stop at the bottom of my driveway, turn around and say, “If you do not listen to me, we will not go to Erie. We will stay home today.”
She did not listen to me. She would not share with Bun. She would not stop yelling at Bun. She called me a mean mommy. When, as I was filling up the tank, I saw her yank something out of Bun’s hands and Bun start to cry, I thought to myself, “No effing way am I doing this for the next two hours.”
I got in the car, told her I saw that she was not sharing with her sister, and that we were going straight home and staying home for the day. No baptism, no cousins, no Nonna and Pap-pap, no Erie.
Monkey went ballistic. She screamed and cried all the way home. Even as she was saying, “I’ll calm down. I’ll be good!” she was flipping out.
I was sorely disappointed, to say the least. I wanted to go to the baptism. I even wanted to go to my reunion. But no way in hell was I going to fight with my daughter as I was driving a car, and there was no way in hell that she was going to get what she wanted if she was not going to listen to me.
Once home, I let the girls out of the car, changed them out of their dresses, and let them run around outside. As they were chasing butterflies in the yard, I wondered if this was even going to matter to them. If the lesson of not going to Erie was going to be lost because, hey, look, a sunny day and butterflies to chase!
Despair is not too strong a word for what I felt. Also: disappointment, rage, and frustration.
The rest of the day went a little better. Lunch went well, as did quiet time (not perfectly, mind you, but it wasn’t a nightmare). They did not get to go to Bella’s house, and we did not watch TV.
We did eventually go to Erie for my reunion, and thus my girls did get to see Nonna and Pap-pap. But by the time we left at 4 p.m., they had been behaving remarkably well, and they were fricking angels in the car. (Of course, Bun passed out, so that kind of helped.)
Am I doing something wrong? Are they more inclined to listen to their father? Why do we have these battles? Will? Power? Boundaries? Why does Bun hit me? (Yes, she gets time out for hitting me.) Why does Monkey whine? Why does Monkey flip out when I say “no” to her?
I am exhausted from the weekend. I am exhausted from mothering my children right now. When they push, I don’t know if I should push back or not.
This shit isn’t for the faint of heart. And I am feeling distinctly faint these days.
13 thoughts on “Time Out”
I wish I had answers. I only have more questions. Peanut has taken to hitting me, too. He cries in my arms only to dive into his father’s arms and stop crying.
Is it supposed to be some sort of test? Determining their boundaries? If so, how long does it last? 18+ years? How did my mother do this? How did she not put all 5 of us up for adoption? How did we all make it out alive and relatively unharmed?
I’ve got nothing for you, girl, but applause. I wish I knew… If you figure it out, do share. You are not alone.
The two things that set my blood on instant boil are when either of my girls starts calling for their daddy and when Monkey calls me a mean mommy. Just instant rage. I have to walk away.
It’s got to be worth it at some point, some day. I hold onto that thought. That and the fact that they are healthy, happy, and they love me (and others). I must be doing something right, but it’s exhausting.
If any of us could answer these questions (or indeed, figure out the art of Perfect Parenting) we would be squijillionaires.
I have days — and thoughts — like yours, and it’s hard. But I guess ultimately you have to come to terms with the fact that they ARE little kids, they do have minds of their own, and no matter how effectively you discipline, they’ll always try to test boundaries and limits. Hell, isn’t that in their job description? 😉
I hope you’re able to hang in there and find some answers that work for you. *hugs*
It just seems so relentless right now. I guess that’s the hardest part for me. I wouldn’t mind some occasional pushing, but it is constant, from both of them. From the time I pick them up from day care until they fall asleep. And I can have a beer.
Thanks for the hugs. And for letting me know I’m not alone.
::sigh:: I feel your pain.
I often find myself asking the same questions. I often find myself wondering if I’m doing something wrong. If “this”, whatever my “this” is, isn’t working.
I wish I had answers for you. I agree with jennifer c: it’s in their job description, right? Kids will *always* test boundaries.
You aren’t alone. I don’t think it really gets easier as kids get older (I know I was a royal pain in the ass throughout my pre-teen years…ROYAL), but I hope we get more used to it…or something.
And you are obviously raising happy and healthy kids, so maybe at the end of the day you are doing everything you can exactly how it needs to be for you and your girls. And, I think, that’s what matters.
Thank you for the support. I must be doing something right — I think that too. They are happy kids, and healthy (when they are not contracting strep throat) and they are so loving. When they are not making me insane, they are making me happy, too. It just seems so very relentless right now. I would like it to let up upon occasion.
A. used to hit us both…a lot. Around age 3 and 4, I think. He used to hit his teachers and kids in his class, too. I think for him, it was out of frustration because he couldn’t express himself very well verbally, and was still learning self control…now he just says a resounding “NO!”
With A., I always try to keep something in mind that will convince him to do what I want him to do. In short, bribery. A lot of times it works, but sometimes it doesn’t. It helps if the reward is relatively immediate. Maybe time to bust out the LPS board again?
And don’t be so hard on your self…you are tired…we are ALL tired, and doing the best we can.
So great to hang out with you this weekend! love and hugs! Hang in there!!
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I remember my friend describing parenting as relentless when her single daughter was an infant. It sounded like a good word for it then, and yet seems to apply even more now. I have no children, and that potential for relentlessness is one of the many reasons we opted against them. I honestly find it hard to imagine parenting because even the good times must be tiring! That’s how I think of it… but I also have always acknowledged that I am missing out on a specific kind of love and joy as a result. I think now it’s probably best, since I am caring for Mom. It certainly gives me a hint of perspective – but only the slightest hint.
It is true that it is tough. But it’s also true that I wouldn’t trade either of them for the whole world. I just want a break every now and then. 🙂
It’s funny, because my mom says things like, “I don’t want you guys caring for me” — meaning the way she looks after her mom. But you make choices in this life — to take care of parents or kids or spouses — and then you live with the choices. And that’s when the love and the joy pay dividends — when it gets really hard.
Thanks for the comment!
Oh man, do I get it. The boy was so easy compared to her. I didn’t realize it at the time, though. I thought that his one or two mild tantrums were bad (I can remember clearly the one and only time I had to remove him from a public place), but I had NO FREAKING IDEA until the girl came along.
There are times she drives me completely to the edge of my sanity, where – like you – I feel actual rage – at her, at myself, whatever. but I know it will pass eventually. It will pass.
Bun throws worse tantrums than Monkey did, but not by much. And half the time one of the girls will get the other one going, which makes me insane. More insane rather.
Another consolation I have though, is that once the storm passes, and the girls start playing contentedly with each other again, I can see what good friends they are going to be. That makes my heart light.
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