I really love being a mom. But I really hate it too.
Oh no. Here she goes, gettin' all real in here again. Sorry.
I'm in one of those rough spots. Pete has always been pretty unpredictable. He's my wild card. I love him more than life. But he's not easy to parent. He's spirited and brilliant and sensory-seeking. Meaning he NEEDS more sensory input than most kids, in order to REALLY FEEL some sensation he's seeking. He throws himself against the ground or a wall. He has a hard time controlling his voice (he's LOUD). He ALSO gets overstimulated easily at times. Which seems counter to what I just described, but nope, it's all within his wiring. He seeks big, loud, things, but then big, loud things (like being at a basketball game) can send him over the behavioral edge. I never, ever know what to expect from him when I wake up in the morning. We have a firm schedule, set breakfast foods, low lights, pre-determined clothes to wear, etc, etc. Still, it's hard to know how he'll react to each thing. He's getting better with age, but I always have to be ready. He's like a bouncy ball, and you're bouncing it and it's unpredictable, you know? You're trying to catch it but you really can't tell which way it's going to bounce. Sometimes it can be really fun, and sometimes it can be really frustrating. Pete is not trying to be "bad" most of the time. He's a really good kid. He does really well in school... we've worked on self-control techniques and he's mastered them. But who is his "safe" person? Me. His mom. So he loses it. For me. Every day. (I'm pretty educated in this area too. I know a lot about it. I help others with these things. Still hard when it's your kid, no matter how much you know).
This wears me down more than I ever could have imagined.
Then there's my Sammy, who is just 20 months younger. He's a completely different kind of child. He's easy-going and calm (by nature). He's a go-with-the-flow kind of person. But he has entered his "grumpy phase" as most kids will. You know, when they are seeking independence (around ages 2,3,4 for any given child), and they start to say "no" more often, start throwing tantrums more frequently, start being generally pissed off if they don't get their way. Today he was rude to his Sunday school teacher- he glared and declared they hadn't made a craft and he was mad. Um, WHAT? He was basically a bratty, ungrateful kid who displayed this to another adult (other than me). Nothing embarrasses me more that my kids being flat out rude. His grumpiness can really cast a spell on the day.
Leah is almost 8, and sometimes I think she's advanced... in the drama department. She's above average in everything academically and apparently this has migrated over to her attitude. It's been really difficult to manage her dramatic outbursts about life not being fair, and blaming every other existing thing for her behavior before owning her mistakes and apologizing. She has entered that eye-rolling stage and loud-sighing stage and everything in between. She is old enough to completely understand her behavior but not old enough to know how to implement change on her own. She's always had her own opinions about life- a quality I love- but she can tantrum too, and it's more difficult (and confusing) to manage as she gets older.
Are my kids awesome in a zillion other ways? Of course. But sometimes, when the stars align and they're all in "hard phases" at the exact same time, I feel like the world's biggest failure. It's not like I've been twiddling my thumbs since they all entered our family. I've worked hard, like so many other parents, to teach morals, values, good behavior, kindness, manners, respect for others, self-control, on and on and on... every minute of every day. And some days it seems like I've taught them NOTHING. Not one thing. Maybe I have completely messed up (not firm enough? too firm? inconsistent?).
I'm making it sound like my house is some some depressing place filled with bratty children- which it's not. They're happy most of the time, content most of the time, listening well (sort of) most of the time. Loving life most of the time. But it's those intense times of misbehavior that have the potential to send me... to the airport, to board a plane, alone, to... somewhere else. Preferably another country.
I have no idea why I'm writing this (as usual). Perhaps to provide evidence to you that your kids (or parenting) are probably better than mine. Or to provide comfort to those who also have kids who seem to be in hard places, who are frustrating to parent at times. Who feel like they're on a gerbil wheel, spinning around and around, wondering if ANYTHING they do, day after day after freakin' day, is making any bit of difference. Do our kids hear us? Are they learning? Is our parenting working? Is any of this worth it? What's the measure of a "good parent" or a "good child"... do we just hope and pray that they'll turn 18 and not be a total asshole... and instead a good, kind citizen?
I have zero answers. I know that having indescribable love for my kids, that is greater than anything within myself, is what keeps me going. This is all worth more than the alternative, which is not having them in my life at all. So when I want to fly off to the Caribbean, I change my mind a few minutes (okay, maybe hours) later (after I've had some coffee, usually). Maybe I was too young to become a mom, but I am one, and that's not going to change. I'm committed to my kids and my family, but that doesn't mean I'm perfect or that the days will only be filled with peace and joy. It's a big fat combination of every emotion ever created.
Sometimes I don't feel okay with that, but most of the time I do. Parenting is hard. Very hard. Never to be glossed over. But we have mercy, lots of mercy, bestowed upon us, embracing our mistakes, patching them up, and moving us forward. I'm worn out, but I'm ready for another day. And for my kids' therapy bills, sure to exist once they're adults... (I'm kidding! hopefully ;-).