Releasing the past in order to find myself

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Horrible Days and Being a Good Parent

It has been a tough few days for me.  I am feeling so overwhelmed, anxious, lonely and sad.  I am angry and don't know how to direct my anger.  I know that my little hiatus from my in-laws and NM is shortly coming to an end.  I don't feel strong enough to deal with them.  I really just want to sleep, and stare at the sunset with a glass of wine, and hide away.
But I can't, because I'm a mom.  It's been a rough couple days with my kiddos too.  They've been sick, not slept well, and have been cranky.  My youngest is teething.  My oldest is testing all my limits at an attempt at independence.  All of these things would be difficult for the most healthy of parents.
But as an ACON, I struggle with parenting.  I struggle to find that balance.  I don't even really know what 'good parenting' looks like.  Where to draw the boundaries between myself and my kids.  I have good 'parenting strategies'.  I've read lots of books.  I've been a teacher.  But on the days that I'm just at my limit, I struggle.  I struggle with the choices I make (or don't make).  I struggle with the line between being an involved parent and protecting them too much.  I struggle with finding the time for myself and not feeling like I'm abandoning them and making it all about me.  My 3 year old is really struggling with respect.  He has been pushing every button: name calling, spitting, hitting, tantrums, defiance.  I struggle to teach him respect for me and for our home.  How do I do this without demanding it "because I'm his mom"?  Even explaining the concept of respect is hard.  I don't want him to do things because I tell him to...but sometimes (like not running in the parking lot) he does need to follow my instructions immediately.  He's really been pushing and doing things that are dangerous.  And in the moment, it's hard to not just yell "because I said so" when I'm terrified for him (or the cat, or his brother).  I want him to respect me as the parent in this home, but I don't want to crush his spirit and be some dictator.  But I do need to be in charge.  It's all just so confusing and gut wrenching and tear producing.  It's all so extremely difficult.


  1. Good parenting is having a lot of patience. Horrible days are quite a hassle really but that is part of being a good parent.

    1. Yes, definitely true. I think that my point wasn't really about my kids being a bit more difficult (that is part of the the job), I think the bad day was more about me struggling about how to handle it. How to not fall into the narcissistic parenting traps that were modeled for me. Always second guessing everything I do in order to make sure I'm doing what's best for my kids, not what's easiest for me, and that my motives and thought processes are sound.
      Parenting is hard enough as it is, with out all the extra baggage of running my parenting through the "narc filter" to make sure it doesn't fit. Definitely worth it for my kids, but some days, it just can be exhausting.

  2. (((Jessie)))) My heart goes out to you, 3 year olds are really tough to deal with, I don't have children but my niece lived with us for a year when she was three, there was two of us (my sister and I) to look after her and it was still exhausting, and we weren't even looking after another little one on top of that like you are. I really understand the dilemma of what to do when they put themselves in a dangerous situation, as I child I really hated the "because I said so", so I could never bring myself to say it to my little niece, so I'd say something like "because it's not safe".

  3. Thanks for the support. I just hate the legacy of parenting that my parents left me and that I'm so unsure what is "normal" and "appropriate" and I struggle with making it not about me but also teaching my kids to respect me because I'm a person. Narcissism just colors so many parts of my life.

  4. oh, Little One, These are times that try parent's souls! At about this stage I think all parents harbor a secret fear they're raising a serial axe murderer. With the hitting, kicking, spitting, biting and that very important and oft repeated word, "NO!" or, "I HAAAATTE YOOOUU MOMMY!" It's exhausting, frustrating and just
    You can't reason with a child of this age. I have no problem saying, "Because I said so" or Kara's response, "Because it's not safe."
    Know what they're gonna say next? "WHY?" Yeah. Here we go! It's not too bad when they ask the questions of the universe like, "Why does my pee come out of here?" or "How come those doggies are stuck together?" But in dangerous situations you just punt.
    With the kicking (in the house) I remove little shoes. OUCH! Yeah, that hurts me too! With the spitting, hitting, tantrum stuff, I remove them from my presence-for a SHORT time. I watched a young mommy in action in the grocery not long ago with a screaming/tantrum throwing total melt-down 3 yr. old and what a pro she was: She immediately took the child out of the cart, out to the parking lot and put him in his car seat in the car (oh yes, the wailing and screaming continued) closed the car door (it was an SUV type vehicle) and she leaned against the back corner where she could see the child, but the child couldn't see HER. (The weather was perfect-cool, but not COLD and the child was dressed appropriately.) I walked over to her as I was returning my cart and by that point there were little wimpers but a much, much calmer kid. She had a water bottle she was drinking from and I said, "Tiring, isn't it?" "Oh YEAH. But I know he'll out-grow this. And if we can both hang on, it'll pass." We chatted for a few more minutes and it became silent in the car. She peeked in and said to me, "Look!" He was playing quietly in his car seat and looking like a little angel. She opened the door and leaned in to the car seat, "Are you ready now?" "OK Mommy!" and back to the store they went.
    Jessie, Please remember what we grew up with was a PERVASIVE PATTERN OF BEHAVIOR: Not the occasional out-break of parental frustration. Each child is like a snow-flake and no two are alike, I don't care how many you have. They come out of the womb with their own little personalities and they really AREN'T that fragile! We have such pure, unconditional love for our parents, the parent really has to work hard over YEARS to destroy that love. Jessie, any mommy who worries this much can't HELP but be a MORE than "Good Enough" parent. Honey, you don't have to have all the answers or "techniques" as long as you have all the love.
    And clearly, you do! How fortunate your children are to have YOU.

    1. Wow, thanks! I try to remember that it was years of abuse that wore me down. It's just when I get frustrated with my kids (especially when I know half of it is because I am tired), I can't help but worry "did I handle that situation while allowing my kid dignity? Am I respecting him? Am I treating him kindly and fairly? Am I letting him run all over me because I don't want to push MY agenda on him?" And on those occasions were the answer is not a good one, I can be hard on myself. I just know, oh too well, what a precious job I've been entrusted with and I'm always too hard on myself. I'm trying to cut myself some slack (with everything), remember that everyone makes mistakes, and that I can try again tomorrow.
      Thank you so much for your support and kind words! I appreciate it.

  5. The times I've broken down and cried my eyes out over this particular conundrum are innumerable. (Ok, that's not true, but they are more frequent than I'd like them to be.) I too often find myself responding to "Why?" with "Because I said so." Because I'm the authority, the one that must be respected and obeyed. It's an awful way to parent, almost as bad as spanking (which I don't resort to, thankfully - my mother would beat me with anything in arm's lenght: spoon, belt, hangers, etc.)

    I've also been finding myself anaesthetizing myself on the computer, trying to cope with everyday stress that the normal person can deal with, instead of spending quality time with my children. I think a lot of the times they act out are pleads for attention and activity, and my quasi-depression is winning out. It's easier to disappear into the internet than it is to peel myself away to try to deal with entertaining the children.

    It's terrible to think that way. That's the sad and frightening part - I know this, yet I continue to act this way.

    Anyways, I feel your pain. It is a struggle to be a good parent, even for those with all of their faculties about them and a loving and supportive family / support system. It's just that much harder for us because we struggle with all of this.

    1. Very well put, Shaun. I also have resorted at times to sinking into the internet world. And I just find that defining the "line" between being a parent who is in charge and a parent who is domineering can be so difficult for me to find. I do think that, at times, we have to expect our children to respect that we make the rules and that they need to comply at times when they don't want to. But I want to convey this in the most respectful way possible. And I can just be so horribly hard on myself when I err on the wrong side of the line.