Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Being the Grown Up

I happened upon a blog through a string of seemingly random events yesterday. I think I was meant to find it because the message in the second post on the page really spoke to me. Being Michael's Daddy is the blog. Morning Madness is the post. I don't know anything about this guy and have honestly only read a couple of things on the page. But Morning Madness grabbed me and kind of shook me around a bit. Go read it- I'll wait here until you are done. Wait, wait... while you are there, check out this post, too. *** OK. Done? This dad has captured my life. He has articulated my struggle. And I'm pretty sure it's Jeff's struggle, too. It's the battle I feel I am constantly fighting in myself. Doing what is best for my kids vs what is easiest for me. Why is it so hard to remember and put into action that responding to my kids in the way they need me to will lead to an easier evening or morning or routine? Just like in his Morning Madness example... that truly could have happened in my house, with my child. So often, Teagan is there, refusing to talk, pointing, whimpering, whining, pouting. When I have my "good parent" hat on and am in the right mindframe, it is easy to deal with. I call back to my little script that I learned from this book. When I use it correctly and consistently and calmly... it works. Really well. But I often get bogged down with my own stress, my own whininess, my own adult version of pointing and demanding... and forget to stay focused on the parenting task at hand. My computer game can wait. Checking my e-mail can wait. Sitting down and putting up my feet can wait. Heck, sometimes going to the bathroom has to wait. Getting my good Mommy hat on, getting into that strong Mommy mode... that is where I need to be. I've been really struggling with this for the past few weeks. I find myself battling with my daughter over nothing. I forget to choose my battles and tend to react based on my own selfish desire to win or be powerful. I bully her because I can, because I want her to do things "my way." I want her to fit into my mold. But my goals in parenting don't fit those choices. I want to nurture my children. I want to help them find themselves, discover their passions and joys. How they squirt toothpaste really has no bearing on that. Reading an extra bedtime story really won't have any negative impact- in fact, it will only bear positive outcomes (I firmly believe that it is impossible to read to a child too much). Some battles have to be fought. I can't take her to Miss Lisa's in her pajamas. So she has to get dressed. But I don't have to set up a fight for it to happen. If I stick to my "guns," the TV won't come on until she's dressed. Period. Simple choosing, control, consequences. "You have the opportunity to watch TV. It's your responsibility to get dressed first." The sticker chart still works with her- I just need to be consistent with it. It's hard, too, because I hear Jeff handling things in the stressed out, fighting way and want to stop it. But that is so hypocritical of me because I do my fair share of fighting with her for no reason. I've been praying about it a lot at church and during the week, actually. I feel like I need to find that peaceful, focused place. I know it when I'm there. But pushing aside all the daily bullshit and finding it... has been really hard lately. And that's all on me. I'm the grown up. I'm the one who chooses how I act. I'm constantly giving Teagan messages about choosing, deciding, picking... and then she witnesses my choices where I get bossy, demanding, and yell more than I should. My hope is that by putting this out there, I'll be more mindful of it. I'll be more in touch, again, with the parent I want to be... with the parent my kids need me to be.

11 comments:

Alix said...

About choosing battles... the bible says it is easier to pass through the eye of a needle.

Keep that pretty chin up Liz. You are a fantastic devoted smart mother - much much better than I ever was. Sometimes I wish I had your pattern cut out for me while I was in the middle of bringing up my kids. But on the flipside of that coin, you have to relax a little and trust yourself too.

Love ya sweetie!

Heather said...

I hear you. This has been a huge struggle for me lately. I had a bit of a revelation in my recent post but I know that won't be my only stress and I know that I need to change how I react to stress, that I need to 'grow up', that I don't get to allow myself the luxury of taking out my stress on my children. For that matter, I don't want to give myself the luxury of taking my stress out on anyone. Sorry Jeff (my DH is Jeff, too). I need to really commit to laying it all at the feet of my Father and acting out of love and not selfishness. Thanks, Liz, for being open about this not fun topic. And thanks for pointing out Michael's Dad.

Mim said...

I'm a grumpy impatient mum far more often than I like. Consequently I have have apologising to the kids down to a fine art.

Mim said...

And I'm half asleep - it's 2:30am! - so my editing skills have crapped out.

Mary Ellen said...

The fact that you think about this subject at all makes you a better parent than most. We all have to find our style in parenting, but I've always valued a peaceful home, which requires gentleness on EVERYONE's part, kids and parents both.

Lynette3boys said...

Very well said Liz. I completely agree - it's such a struggle at times. Thanks for the insightful post.

Jeanne said...

Even though I'm now a grandmother, I still fight this battle. My 5-year-old granddaughter, Kylie, is a challenge -- smart, headstrong, stubborn, willful, manipulative. And I can work through all those things to the joyous child that's inside when I do the things you suggest.

(So the good news is, the lessons you're learning aren't single-use-only. They're good for a lifetime!)

Lynn Freeman said...

Kinda interesting how all the things you do to/for your children get kinda thrown out with grandkids. Sometimes I think that if I had the same attitude with my kids that I do with my granddaughter that their life and my life would have been so much easier. But not true....it just means I would have raised spoily, unruly, immoral and unethical kids. Big difference between spoiling a grandchild you see once a week or two and bringing up a child 24/7 for 18 years. I didn't have the wisdom that you do at this stage Liz - and I didn't really know how to find it. So my motto for picking my battles was simply this "if it's not physically or emotionally harmful, then let them do it". It's really stuck with me for all these years because I've failed to find anything else that really works for me. Works great for Hayden, not so great for Zack - but he's got his own set of problems and his father didn't adopt the same philosophy on child rearing that I did. When I read that dad's post, I saw so much of myself in there - still to this day. And I felt the overwhelming guilt and bad feelings for knowing that I should be the grown up even when I wasn't being one. But it's just SO HARD to pull yourself out of that when you're in it. Don't you find yourself sometimes saying, in a moment of ultimate selfishness - or whatever you choose to call it - "what about me? when is my time? when do I get a break or get to do what I want or why can't things go my way?". It's absolutely normal to feel that way Liz - it's human. Doesn't mean that you're a bad mom or person...it just means you're like the rest of us - but with her shit together a bit more than some ;). I think if you can win that "I gotta be the grown up" battle better than 50% of the time then you're doing better than most. Problem is that as kids get older and more aware, they begin to notice those times when you're not the grown up and it leads to other issues and dynamics within the parent/child relationship. Suffice to say that all these years of practice are going to come in handy for you! It's not a game of comparisons or competition and we need to only worry about ourselves but sometimes we need to be reminded that we're not alone in all of this and it sometimes feels good to measure ourselves against others - if only to feel good about what we're doing ;) What we have to share with one another as parents is valuable beyond words...look at what that dad's simple post has sparked. Good on him (and you) for sharing those experiences and emotions - many hide behind them out of self-perceived shame. Others choose to teach and learn by them.

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

The fact that you are aware of it is such a huge deal. You know what needs to be done, and almost all of us struggle with it, so you know you are not alone. You will get there!

Flartus said...

Hey, I'm kinda skimming through, trying to keep up...but go back and check out the response's to Michael's Daddy. Most of them were saying "Hey, it's ok; we all do it." And one said, "they let it go so much faster than we do." SO true! (Kind of like dogs...)

I've had several conversations with my mom about events she thought would scar me for life that I don't even remember; and other tiny comments she or Dad made that I've kept close to my heart for decades.

You can never predict what's going to stick in their little brains, but I'm sure they will remember having two dedicated, concerned and loving parents. Even if they were crabby in the mornings. They might even think "Geez, I was such a difficult kid; I don't know how my mom ever put up with me."

You never know.

Tom said...

It is a struggle. Every single day.

As one of my wise bloggy buddies pointed out, you have your losses and you have your victories. Just keep striving to do well.

And BTW - thank you for the link!