Over the past several weeks a few of my friends have commented on how patient I am with my children. Each time I have heard this I am beyond shocked. I think it is because I don’t always feel like I have the patience inside that I would like to. I often am met with feelings of not knowing how to parent my children or just what to do when they act up. Sometimes, I get this “deer in the headlights” sort of panic inside. I certainly don’t always handle my children with the grace and tact that I think other people do.
I come from flying off the handle at the simple spilling of milk. So upon hearing those compliments I have been left looking over my shoulder and wanting to ask, “Who me?” I am waiting for someone to yell out, “imposter!” or “fraud!” It was probably just over a year ago that I found myself being accused of being an angry mommy. Sure I was dealing with some pretty heavy Perinatal Mood Disorder but it stung when one of my daughters called me a “monster”. My facial expressions must have been pretty monstrous after I raged at her that afternoon.
Once my husband made reference to the fact that I was at risk of becoming like the mother in the movie Boogie Nights, not because I was drinking like she was, but because she was so rageful. I remember being so sad when he said that because I did not want to be like her or any other stereotypical movie mom who drives their kid out of the house.
I just finished reading The Help and went to see the movie. I remember as I read the book feeling my heart sink at the treatment of Mae Mobley’s character by her mother. But seeing her character played out on screen was even worse. Viola Davis, who played the maid Aibileen, would say to Mae Mobley, “You’s smart, You’s kind, You’s important” It made me flash back to all the times I raged at my little Georgia, who sort of looked like Mae Mobley in the film. It is stressful to think that my anger could end up scaring my children for life. When I saw that movie I was again reminded that I want nothing more than to build my children up and have them know that I think highly of them.
But just as much as I do not want to be a raging, angry mommy, I don’t want to be a total pushover either. I want to find a balance between loving my kids and spoiling them rotten.
The past four weeks have been increasingly difficult for our family, as my husband has taken on a new job. We have been seeing less of him as he transitions into his new company. I knew it was going to be challenge for me because up until now I have not been doing everything on my own. He is a hands on dad who usually helps with dinner, baths, and bedtime.
So for the past several weeks I have been doing it all and I found myself getting tired, run down, and complained to a few friends. It dawned on me later that one of the women I complained to is a firefighter’s wife. She has to parent two small kids without her husband coming home for days on end. I felt so silly after realizing I did that.
But as my patience wore thin I found myself giving in to my daughter’s every beck and call. I was getting them snacks when they asked even when I felt like they had enough. I was saying, “No more treats” then minutes later giving them one more. They were watching a television show that I didn’t approve of for their age group. In other words I was essentially letting my 5-year-old, 3-year-old, and 18-month old girls run the show.
Now in all honesty this has probably been occurring longer than my husband’s absence and to some degree I have been giving in to keep my girls happy and from throwing fits. It is so hard to listen to them cry or tantrum. I especially didn’t want to deal with it alone so I’d give in. But ultimately, I grew tired of going against my better judgment. I knew that giving in all the time wasn’t the right thing to do.
So, I finally threw in the towel: No more Mrs. Nice Guy!
I deleted the favorite show. I said “No” to the extras in the grocery store. I had enough of letting people under 4 feet tall determine what was right and how to spend our money. I had to be willing to endure crying and not care what other people would think or see when my children didn’t get their way. I have had to get really comfortable with a tantrum or two this past week. The real miracle is that I have been doing it without getting angry at my kids.
So, after laying down new law it still isn’t anywhere near how I’d like it to be with my kids. My daughter is still asking for the book and the stickers she was forced to let go of in the grocery store. I am even more tired than previously and feel one step closer to needing a vacation (which is neither being planned nor being talked about). But I have learned a valuable lesson in parenting this week. I have learned that I am the parent, I call the shots, and I can still be a nice mom, without yelling and anger, and lay down rules that hopefully will better my children in the long run. It may be hard but I know ultimately we will all be happier with rules and clear expectations. Plus the world won’t have three extra Veruca Salts running around.