Tag Archives: behavior management

I Might Have Been an Amazing Stay at Home Mom, or Not

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IMG_7381There are many days I feel my fate dealt me a cruel blow by not making me independently wealthy.  But I’m a social worker who married an artist, so the reality of my situation is that I have to work to help support the family.

Once I had kids, I went back to work four days a week.  So, I’m home on Mondays and then work four longer days.  I tell people that Monday is my day I get to pretend I’m a Stay at Home Mom (or SAHM for those of us who like buzzy abbreviations).

Mondays can be pretty stinking awesome.

For one thing, I get to spend some quality alone time with my three-year-old, Emily, while my seven-year-old, Jack is at school.  Before Em was born I relished every second with little Jack.  Oh the trips to the playground, ice cream cones, and hours snuggled on the couch watching Disney movies!

Now it is Emily’s turn.  Then the three of us get to be together for a few hours in the afternoon before my husband comes home.  Once the hubz comes home, we all eat dinner together and I take Jack to karate.  Pure bliss.

An added bonus is that on Mondays I get to keep the house in a lovely state.  I mean, it’s not Martha Stewart quality, but it’s pretty decent.  It smells like vanilla, coconut, or vetiver.  The recycling gets put out, sheets get changed, the butter dish gets washed, and I usually make some semblance of a healthy meal for dinner.

I buzz around the kitchen preparing fresh fruit for the children.  We all stay marvelously hydrated.  Our bowels are relaxed and friendly.

While Emily naps I enjoy some tea and a repeat (or two!) of Grey’s Anatomy on Lifetime.  Sometimes I bake cookies for the kids to enjoy after school.  Sometimes I bake cookies with the kids, and delight in a shared experience, knowing I am providing my children creative, sensory activity.

On these days, I find myself all like, hey, look at me!  I am rocking this party!  I am so freaking in love with my children, and they are totally adoring me.  I must be the mother of the freaking year!  I could have been a contender for freaking stay at home mother of the world!  I even showered and put on make up today, folks!  

It’s good stuff.

Then Tuesday through Friday comes and I barely see the children.  My husband becomes the primary caregiver, responsible for drop offs and pick ups, as I work longer, less-flexible hours.  Meals are much less organized (and less healthy. . .  sometimes there are Happy Meals– don’t judge!)  We become tense and snippy with each other.  Our tummies become tight and ornery.

But it is a reality that has worked for us, because it has to, more or less for the past seven years.

Sometimes a lot less, it feels.

It is easy to wax idyllic about what life would be like as a SAHM.  Maybe we would belong to a pool club in the summer.  Or maybe I would be all into Pinterest.

But then, there are those “other” Mondays with the kids.

You know, the ones where Jack comes home ticking like a time bomb from his shift in the grist mill of academia?

The ones where Emily doesn’t nap no matter how much I cajole, promise Snow White and lollipops when she wakes up or threaten to take shit away, she just.  won’t.  nap.  and thus is exhausted and grumpers by 4 p.m.?

The ones where I am in no mood for cooking a pot of boiling water, let alone a balanced meal for anyone?

Yeah, those days.

Those are the days when despite my brightest reasoning act (complete with jazz hands), Jack insists that he has a right to a cupcake for dinner and throws the mother of all tantrums for close to an hour.  Did I mention he is SEVEN?!  I mean, come on, weren’t we supposed to be past that like three years ago?

Those are the days when Emily (who hasn’t napped), switches over into hyper-drive and is twirling in circles, making this high pitched noise that I swear has all the dogs in the neighborhood howling along with her, and is driving me silently insane, but is driving her big brother (who came home nasty from school) very noisily insane.

Those are the days when, non-practicing-buddhist-atheist-Jew-that-I-am, I want to kneel down to whatever deity invented wine and is going to allow me to go to work and get the fuck out of this crazy town the next day.

Then I feel like a shitty person, because moms are supposed to want to be with their precious angels, no matter what, all day forever world without end, right?

Gosh.  I love my kids.  I fucking love them.

But motherhood is so.  fucking.  hard.

(It also makes you say the “F” word more than you used to, but you know, not in front of the kids…)

I think whatever flavor of mom you are in this society–  SAHM, working mom, work at home mom, single mom, part time working mom, whatever!–  it is just really hard.  I mean, can we just honor that?  Like for a moment?

Everyone in this world has some kind of opinion, and there is a new Huffpost article every day to tell us how wrong we are getting everything.  Any and everyone who can connect to digital media has an opinion and they are going to post it to try to convince me I am a bad mom because I said the five wrong things, or I fed my family soy, or I breastfed too long/not long enough.  I’m not “attachment” enough.  I’m not strict enough.  I’m screwing up these tiny humans, that I love almost beyond reason, one day at a time.

It all makes me a nervous wreck.  I sit in my car in the morning, preparing for my commute to work, and I am not sure if I should feel guilty for missing my kids, or for feeling a tiny reprieve.

Some people nail it.  Some people have exuberant energy and can juggle everything just so.  Some people that are just not me.

Look, I just want to love my kids and not feel guilty about working, or not working, or feeling burnt out, or yelling, or going through a drive through because it’s one of those days.

I just want to love my family, and I swear to you, I am doing my absolute best.  But sometimes I have those days, and it is really hard to keep things in perspective.

So, maybe I could have been a super hip SAHM.  And maybe I’m not the greatest working mom.

But I am the mom that I am.

And I love my kids.

If nothing else, I do love them.

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Winter Makes It Worse

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For a brief minute or two, the breezy hum of my hairdryer drowns out the tantrum taking place in the kitchen.  Jack is pissed about doing homework.  Something has not gone to plan and he is freaking the fuck out.  While my husband is trying to butter waffles and shield Emily from Jack’s flailing pencil and fists, Jack is screaming, calling names, and taking swings at my husband.

This used to be an every day occurrence and now it is more like a couple times per month.  But still, when it happens, it feels like a freight train is racing towards me and I can’t move.  I don’t know what to do.  And I am supposed to know what to do because it is my job to tell other parents how to handle situations just like this.

He’s not giving you a hard time, he’s having a hard time!  

Stay consistent!  

Be present with him.  Keep your composure!  

Try to be perceived as a helper!

Blah.  Blah.  Blah.  It frustrates me I am so inept in my own home.

Winter makes it all worse.  I don’t really know why.  We are still going out, getting physical exercise, staying busy.  Maybe it is the lack of sun.  Maybe Jack is as sensitive to this as I am.

IMG_7057While I am not one to complain about the weather, I have to recognize that this winter in New England has sucked in a giant way.  We have been pummeled with snow for weeks.  I stand nearly six feet tall, and yet there is a mound of snow TALLER THAN ME for crying out loud, next to our driveway.  Other parts of the country may be used to this type of precipitation, but for us, here, it is a little much.

The ice and snow are destroying people’s homes.  A bunch of my friends and coworkers have had slip and falls on the snow, have had to take time out of work, and have been sore and injured.  Businesses have had to shut down for state-of-emergencies, and have lost significant revenue.

My husband was in a fender bender a couple weeks ago, because he could not see around the enormous bank of snow at the top of our street.  While everyone was unharmed in the accident, it still required auto-body work on his car to the tune of a $500 deductible.  Since we don’t generally have $500 lying around, this represents an additional financial stressor in our lives which are already stretched very thin.

These are all real stressors.  These are all factors that tip the scales in favor of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

At least they have for me.

I’ve been noticing my patience is really thin with my kids, and then I feel like a total jerk hole for yelling or being short with them.  I’ve been noticing that my energy is low, my appetite is poor, and all I want to do is sleep and munch on chips.  I’ve been noticing it feels like an act of Congress would be the only thing to get me up off the couch to put the laundry in the dryer, or to get Emily a drink of water.

I look around outside and the big, crusty, piles of snow make me feel claustrophobic, like there is no room to move.

Then I get to go to work and listen to dozens of clients vent about their lives, the weather, and how insane their kids are acting.  At some point, I just want to say, Look, I’m not any better than this and I really have no advice for you because I am a total fraud.  So, good luck with everything.  Now go away and leave me alone.  

I was sick with bronchitis and then bronchitis induced asthma for the entire month of February, so any emotional buffer I might have had to tolerate aberrant child behavior, a hectic workload, and the third blizzard in as many weeks has been rinsed down the sink in a gob of greenish-yellow phlegm.

So, when I get pumped up with a tiny burst of pleasure at a nice hot shower, it just feels devastating to have that bubble popped by hearing a tantrum the second I turn off the water.

I know kids do crazy stuff and they get angry too. Believe me I know I’m not supposed to take it personally.  But it seems I’ve gone a bit snow-blind and have lost some perspective on things.  I’m trying to remember Jack typically has trouble at this time of year, then things get a little better with spring.

I just want my family to be happy.

I just want to be happy.

It sounds so simple, and yet somedays it can feel so hard.

Are you having a tough time this winter?  Have you ever been diagnosed with SADD?  What has been helpful to you during this time?  

Ps. Please check out my new creative writing blog, the Story of Blue. I’m so excited to see you there!

To Do List

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In addition to my daughter’s Christmas gifts, I bought a tiny Minnie Mouse necklace.  It was on sale, and I knew she would love having a piece of real, “big girl” jewelry.

I set it aside from her other gifts.  Instead of putting it under the tree, I had plans to use it as an incentive to motivate her to work on some tasks.

There is this list in my head of stuff I want her to do.

1.  Poop in the big toilet instead of the little potty.  Somehow, my delicate three year old creates these man-sized poos that are a pain to clean out of her froggy potty.

2.  Go the the bathroom and pee in the appropriate urine receptacle of choice–  toilet or froggy potty–  instead of going in the pull up we put on her at night for “just in case.”  Emily has awesome bladder retention and usually stays dry all night, but then insists on peeing in her pull up in the morning, instead of using the bathroom.  Yuck.

3.  Sleep through the night in her own bed.  Until we moved, Emily wanted nothing to do with sleeping in bed with us.  She had her own little crib next to my side of the bed and she stayed in it all night.  This was partially due to the logistics of our two bedroom apartment, and also partially due to my separation anxiety.  When we moved, we did away with the little crib and presented our darling daughter with a pink, Hello Kitty ensconced bedroom of her very own.  She’s been a trooper about falling asleep in her own bed, but in the middle of the night, she is trooping up to our bed.

“I don’t yike being awone in my woom,” she says.  “I too scared and I want da mama.”  I get it.  As someone who has always struggled with the horrible, creepy fear of the dark, I would do almost anything to prevent my little girl from feeling terrified.  Buuutttt. . .  sharing our bed makes things tight and uncomfortable and my husband and I are back to sleep-deprivation-mode, which is really no fun.

4.  Don’t struggle so at nap and bed times.  This one is pretty self-explainatory.  Like any feisty toddler, Emily gives us a run for our money when it comes to getting into bed.

5.  Don’t be sneaky.  With our son, we could have wall papered our house in chocolate and he wouldn’t have ever dreamed of nipping any without permission.  Emily however feels perfectly entitled to helping herself to snacks of her choosing (usually candy first thing in the morning).  She knows it is not pleasing to us, so she will go into her room and hide in her closet to munch.  It is actually kind of funny, and it never makes us particularly angry (unless there are major crumbs involved).  She has the most expressive little face, so we can always tell when she has done something cheeky.

6.  Give up the damn bubby already.  The kid is three.  Enough with the pacifier already.  She mostly only uses it for sleep now, and sometimes in the car, but I hear her smacking away on it and visions of orthodontic bills dance before my eyes.

It crossed my mind to make a chart of some sort and make her earn stickers or smiley faces or stars, and when she filled up the chart for all her good, honest, cooperative, toilet-learning choices, she could have the necklace.

Sometimes I get it into my mommy-head that I need to be fine tuning my children to get ahead in the mommy-game.

I caught myself feeling a bit anxious to get these traits programmed into my toddler as quickly as possible.  Buuuttt. . .  on the other hand, things are flying by so quickly already.  I look at pictures from last Christmas when she had no hair and was still in diapers, and I marvel that the same child is streaking through my house in her Hello Kitty underpants, her curls a tangled halo around her face.

She’s turning into such a cool, little human.  She is tough as nails and not afraid to express her opinions, or speak up for herself, but she also has an amazingly tender heart and shows an aptitude for giving and caring.  The combination of these traits simply make me glow, and suggest I might be doing something right as a mom.

So what if my kid sneaks a chocolate now and then?  In the grand scheme of things, will it really matter much if she stays dry in her pull-up this week, or next week, or six months from now?  If parenthood has taught me one thing, it is that children do stuff sooner or later.  Then it is done, and I wonder why I made such a fuss over it in the first place.

Karma blessed me, anxious-rule-bound-control-freak-that-I-am, with two humans who are fiercely independent and strong-willed, and who complete my mental to-do lists on their own, sweet schedule, usually making a lot of noise, clutter, and chaos in the process.

My relationship with my children teaches me a lot about letting go. . .  of expectations, of rules, of my nearly obsessive needs for organization and predictability.

Emily won’t want to snuggle with me forever.  She won’t always need me to wipe her little tush.  Her worries and fears might not always be so easy to soothe with hugs and kisses alone, and my life will feel cavernous with all the spare time from not tending to a toddler’s every need.

When you become a parent, people tell you to cherish every moment because it goes by in the blink of an eye.  Truer words have never been spoken, however they do little to describe the breakneck pace to which life accelerates after having children.  It is a constant circle of joy and loss and joy and loss and joy.

I put the little necklace up on top of my desk.  I might still use it as an incentive for her.  But I wrote a new to do list.  It only had one item on it:

Catch that squishy, squirmy little imp who smells like honey and speaks with a lisp and hug her up like there is no tomorrow.

Because time waits for no mom.

Gratitude

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I am grateful for the horrendous behavior my son had at bedtime because it means he is alive and feisty, and it means I am a mom.

I am also grateful my husband handled said tantrum and said bedtime.

I am grateful for the bickering my husband and I did this morning over who would mail the mortgage payment.  Our relationship is always strong enough to handle silly arguments.  I am grateful I can drop it, go to work, and come home to start fresh with him, even after we have been fresh with one another.

While I am on the subject, I am grateful to have made my first mortgage payment, and grateful I will have the opportunity to make many more.  It means we have a wonderful home of our own, and it means we have the finances, however meager, to afford a sturdy roof over our heads.

I am grateful for the plumbing, and heating, and painting, and lighting problems we have already experienced because it allowed for us to get creative solving problems, to see how supported we are by family.  It also allowed me to see my husband shine in his new role as master of the house for the first time.

I am grateful I have learned that no one is all good, and that no one is all bad.  This knowledge helps to temper my relationships with humanity.

I am grateful for the gigantic, purple bruise I have on my back from falling down the cellar stairs the other day.  All that blood under my skin is a sign I am alive and my body is doing what it needs to do to heal.

I am grateful for my daughter’s presence in my life, how she came to me when I fell and brought me the tiny ice pack, offered me hugs and kisses, put her hands on my thighs and said, “I’m here with you, Mama.”  This moment was such a blessing, despite the pain in my back, because it offered me a glimpse of her gentle nature, and was a tiny reflection of the nurture I have poured into her.

I am grateful for piles of dirty laundry that I will wash and fold and make sweet and clean for my family because it means we have fun, funky threads to keep our bodies warm as the weather cools, and clean water with which to do our wash in the comfort of our own home.  I am grateful for my husband’s assistance in this and many other chores.

I am grateful for the traffic tonight because I got to listen to music in solitude, and to relish private memories hidden therein.

I am grateful for the company of Regina Spektor, Peter Gabriel, the Cure, Iron and Wine, George Michael, Zap Mama, Tori Amos, Alanis Morissette, Florence and the Machine, Ingrid Michaelson, Erykah Badu, Ani Difranco, Bon Iver, Dido, and so many others who have been with me in moments of joy and darkness.

I am grateful for the crowds in the grocery store because it means people are getting stuff to nourish their bodies and to spend time with their own.  I am grateful for the eye contact and smile of the grocery clerk who rang up my last minute purchases with good cheer.

I am grateful for all my friends who complain about the rain, the cold, the wind, the sleet, the heat.  I am happy to hear their weather woes because it means there is nothing more tragic in their lives.

I am grateful for my familial squabbles because it offers me an opportunity (if I so chose to accept) to deepen bonds and mend ways.

I am grateful for the anxiety I will feel over going to family events for holidays because I have lived with anxiety forever and it makes me realize how strong I am and how far I have come in being able to tolerate it.

I am grateful for the food I will eat, for the wine I will drink, for the multiple desserts I will savor (just because they are there and amazing!).  I am grateful for how sick and lazy I will feel afterwards because it is truly a blessing to be so decadent.

I am grateful for the memories of those no longer with me, weather because they have passed beyond the veil, or because we are out of touch, or because we have fallen out of each other’s graces because the grief of a loss is always in proportion to love.

And love is everything.

I am grateful for love.

That I can feel it.

That I can make it.

That I can share it.

That I can say, thank you, I love you.
I am grateful for this, and this, and everything.

Big love and blessings to you and yours from Momaste.

 

Dear Moms, It Will All Be Okay

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Over the past week, kids have gone back to school.  If you lucked out and have a child with an easy-going temperament, this transition may have barely caused a ripple in the pool of your life.  If you have a- shall we say- more sensitive child, this transition back to school may cause some angst for both your child and for yourself.

Our seven year old son, Jack, falls into the latter category.  He just started second grade.  While Jack is exceptionally bright, and gets stellar grades, he tends to be emotionally immature, and gets amped up over transitions big and small.  Sometimes just asking him to turn off the TV or come to supper can trigger a meltdown. So, we knew going back to school after a long, lazy summer would not be a picnic.

About a year an a half ago, I wrote a post reflecting on Jack’s year in kindergarten.  It was a strongly worded rant about how difficult it was to watch my small son grapple with the big world of education.  Although he had been in daycare since he was an infant, and he attended a stellar preschool, going to a full-day-every-day-academic-program was grueling.

Jack would return home at the end of the day like a ticking time bomb.  He was exhausted and agitated at the same time.  We struggled to get him to focus on homework after he had already sat still for so many hours in school.  He would hold himself together emotionally and behaviorally all day at school, and then let lose a barrage of anger and anxiety once he got home.

My post about Jack’s experience in kindergarten has been one of the most read, shared,  and commented-on posts here at Momaste.  I’ve heard from many moms who shared a similar and heart-wrenching experience as mine and Jack’s.

I still believe our education system is, in many ways, flawed.  You will never convince me that giving five and six year olds homework, or keeping them still for six hours at a time is developmentally appropriate.  I believe there should be way more opportunities for physical activities during the school day, and that children should be offered other methods of learning through play and exploration.

Despite this, I also believe teachers do their best working in the constraints of this system.  For the most part, teachers are amazing, helping friends who want our children to succeed.  They work way harder than I would ever want to, know way more about academically educating my child then I do, and do a much better job than I could ever dream of.  This is one reason why I continue to send my child to school, and have faith in our system, however flawed it may be.

It is really hard to keep perspective on things when our children are involved.  With the benefit of a year and a half of hindsight, I would like to take a moment to write couple of things.

First off, it is all going to be okay.  Your child will adjust.  Please take heart.

It is hard to watch our little people struggle with transitions, but have faith in your child’s ability to conquer challenges.  Jack is almost always capable of way more than I give him credit for.  Trying times pale in comparison to watching a child discover inherent joy in reading or science.

Second, I’ve learned that kindergarten is a year of major adjustments.  So is first grade.  And second.  Every year represents new and different developmental milestones for your child.  While it feels like our hearts are shredded when our kids come home dragging their back packs behind them, flattened by fatigue, frustrated by social challenges, or demoralized by a bad grade, we can not rob them of these precious learning opportunities.

It goes against everything in our nature to see our babies uncomfortable, but we need to accept we can not make every second of life comfortable for them.

This is not to say we should ignore it if they are truly struggling or having a hard time.  Making your maternal presence known as your child’s advocate is important.  Every child has special needs and needs to have a pleasant and rational spokesperson speak up for them while they learn to do so for themselves.  Most teachers and school administrators will be open and sensitive to your thoughts and concerns.

Finding ways to ease your parental anxiety about school can also help decrease your child’s difficulties going to school.  Volunteering to chaperone a field trip, read to the class, bring in a special snack, or help out with the school dance are great ways to get involved and feel more comfortable in the school where your child spends so much time.  It can also be fun to see your child interact with their peers and teachers in this environment which is so often another world to us as parents.

Finding positive outlets for your child is important.  We put Jack in karate, where he has flourished.  It is great to have a place for him that is not only socially safe, but where he also develops confidence and self esteem.  Additionally, it is a way for him to work out some of his frustration and energy at the end of the day.

While I believe karate has been beneficial for Jack, I also make sure his schedule is balanced with plenty of “down time” on the weekends.  The schedule really depends on the child.  Some kids do much better with every second of their day scheduled and structured, however for other kids (like my son), having unstructured time for free play and relaxation is very important.

Finally, take care of your mother heart.  It is helpful to talk with other moms and friends who may be going through similar things with their own children and can offer sympathy and support.  In my experience, knowing we are not alone is sometimes the most valuable thing for a mom.

I wish you and your child love, and light, and luck during this trying time.  Just keep telling yourself it will all be okay, because it will be.  Your child will surprise and delight you over and over again as you watch them take on the world with their own unique charm, wit, and intellect.

Momaste.

The Truth About Toddlers

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When your baby is born, she or he is perfect.  As they grow, and become more mobile, they get into monkey business and your primary task is to keep them from concussing themselves.  That’s it.

Then there is a subtle shift when they start pushing limits, let’s say around 18 months.  You might get a tantrum in Target, or at bedtime.  You might see them start to grab at their sibling’s stuff because they know their antics are going to get a big reaction.

It can be fatiguing, but then you get to this sweet spot, let’s say between 24-36 months. You pretty much know what makes them tick and tock.

You start to feel like you have this parenting thing down.  You’re a rock star.  Your kid goes right to bed and is potty-training like a champ!  You tell your friends, I don’t know why they call it the “terrible twos!”  It’s really not so bad at all.  Terrible twos, schmerible schmoos!

And just at that moment, while you are perhaps frying up a veggie burger, or putting in a load of laundry, you feel like you should give yourself a little pat on the back.  You’re a great mom.  Why do people yell at their kids?  Toddlers are perfectly reasonable, that is, if you know what you’re doing.

Wait, what is that smell?

The shit has hit the fan.  Literally.  Because while you were busy patting and being all self-congratulatory, your toddler has shit his or her pants and smeared it on the fan and they are giggling their poopy little ass off while you are inhaling the digested waft of that veggie burger you fed them for lunch.

And that, my friends, is the truth about toddlers.  Just when you think you have all the rules down, they change the entire game you are playing.

Just when you think everything is going great, it gets worse.

So much worse.

We sailed through the “terrible twos” with Jack, who is now seven.  Emily has been a breeze since the day she was born, roughly two and a half years ago.  All of a sudden, as she is getting closer to turning three, it is all coming back to me how wretched that year was with Jack.

At three, your toddler is bigger.  Sticking a breast in their face no longer solves every problem.  They are stronger, and so is their will.

My precious baby girl is doing things like spitting out her food, taunting her brother, and wildly screaming in our faces.  Oh, the sleep regression and tantrums are pure bliss.  Not.  And to cap it off we are in the throws of potty learning.

I’ve learned a few things about toddlers which help to ground me during those Target tantrums and poopy finger painting sessions.

1.)  Some days *it seems* their sole purpose is inflicting a sense of helpless desperation on their adults.  I say “it seems” because it really isn’t.  Their sole purpose is learning about the world and limits by bending them.  Their problem solving skills are also pretty primitive, so you get tantrums and the like.

Emily heard Jack use the words “stupid idiot,” and now when she gets frustrated with me or her dad she says it to us.  Of course it comes out more like, “Pooh ped dee dee dot!”  I mean, what the heck am I supposed to do with that?

As a child and family therapist, I’m supposed to have answers to this crap, and to know just what to do.  It is so much closer to the truth to say I don’t have a clue.  This sense of helplessness triggers thoughts of frustration and self depreciation for me.  Reminding myself my kids are doing typical, developmentally appropriate things and I am experiencing typical parental angst helps to empower me ever so slightly.

We do not use physical punishment, because inflicting physical pain on children just seems, well, yucky.  And it is largely ineffective, so that leaves us with the ever popular TIME OUT.

2.)  There is no invisible, magic glue that keeps a child with a strong will and fierce determination in “time out.”  Time out means spending a half hour in a wrestling match trying to get Em to stay in her spot, long enough to “think about what she did.”  A lot of the time, she responds to the counting to three or getting something taken away/losing a treat. But sometimes nothing works and you just have to ride it out as your little person asserts their individuality. This does NOT mean you did anything wrong.  (See # 6 below.)

3.)  There is no reasoning with a toddler, especially when they are over-tired, over-hungry, and over-stimulated. Let’s leave it at that.

4.)  Toddlers are still really, freaking adorable when they are asleep.  So, hold on to that, because toddler negativity can turn your life upside down well past two, and even three years old.

5.)  You can’t take it personally.  Easier said than done, yes, I know.  But it is true.  Your little person’s behavior is not really about you.  It is about their learning and growing experience.

Your toddler loves you.  They are not trying to make your life a living hell.  She or he feels safe and secure with you which is why they press buttons and push limits with you but not their babysitter/grandparent/daycare personnel.  They know you love and adore them and you won’t turn your back on them.

Your best bet is keeping your cool, taking a deep breath, and remembering you grew this ferocious, little beast from scratch in your tummy.  Again, easier said than done.

6.)  Somedays, you can execute every parenting move perfectly and yet nothing will work.  This does not mean you suck (or at least that’s what I tell myself).  It means you have a feisty little person on your hands who is searching for their own sense of self in this crazy drama we call life.  Also, remember even though we grow someone out of our own DNA, they arrive in the world with their own temperaments and personalities.  While we can shape them somewhat, we do not have total control.  Somedays are just chock-a-block full of growing pains for your toddler, and for you as you dig deep for that parenting Zen.

At the end of the day, I believe if the love is there everything will be okay.  Tantrums are normal.  Tantrums end eventually.  Poop can be wiped away.  You are rocking this parenting thing, and your kids love you.

Do you have any tips/tricks in your parenting bag to share?  What worked best?  What didn’t work at all?  

 

Remember The Good Shots

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In my mid-twenties, I fancied myself a golfer.  Sure, I’d never held a golf club before, or been on the links, but I was determined.  Don’t ask me why.  I bought myself some clubs and lessons.

Truthfully, I sucked.  Badly.  But I had a friend who took mercy on me and took me out to play nine holes on a few occasions.  We would also go out and smack away at buckets of balls at the driving ranges.  It was fun.

I never got good.  I gave it up after a couple years, but I always remembered something my friend said to me.  He told me to forget all the bad shots (and there were many), and to remember only the good shots.  Nearly 15 years later, I still remember the best shot I ever took when I sent the ball about 250 yards down the green.

I thought about remembering the good shots today.

We had a wonderful trip to the beach.  It was a huge success.  We got there and back without incident.  We played in the water and sand on a perfect, sunny day.  Every one was happy and relaxed.  We came home and took warm showers to refresh ourselves, and then Emily and I lounged on my bed and watched Kipper on the Ipad while Jack played and my husband worked.

It was idyllic.

I nipped out for an errand to buy gifts for Jack, who turns seven next week.  With a heart full of love and gratitude, I chose some science experiments, art supplies, and toys for outdoors.

I got home to find the kids hungry and tired.

We tried to mobilize everyone for a trip to Panera, but Jack disintegrated into a tantrum.  I thought about the trunk of my car which was filled with birthday toys for Jack, and felt frustrated, hurt, and offended by his behavior.

Some days, tantrums seem the bane of my existence.  They threaten to throw my entire day and emotional state off course.  I feared this would be the case when Jack started his antics after our dreamy day.

But in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t last very long.  I tried to shake off my frustration, and the fear that I was sucking as a mom, and remembered all the happy moments earlier in the day.  I reminded myself not to take his behavior personally.

I thought of how happy the kids were splashing in the surf, how nicely they cooperated with us and one another, and how encouraged I was by our simultaneous and mutual enjoyment.

I remembered the good shots of the day.

Eventually, things settled down.  We ate pizza.  I read stories with Emily who was extra cuddly and wanted a lot of nursing time.  The children were exhausted and went to bed early.

Fifteen years from now, I know what I will remember about today.

Tell me about some of your good shots, and how they overshadowed a rough patch.  I love hearing from you!  I also love when you follow me on Twitter @Momasteblog!