Mean Mama

Kiddo has been wearing me out lately. If it’s not an incessant plea for attention it’s good old fashioned disobedience. I never felt “shake the baby” urges with him as an infant but I’m feeling some kick the kiddo urges something fierce now (not repeated kicking, mind you…just a solid drop kick…one that gets some distance…).

I don’t dig the rage. It does not become me. I remember telling our flatmate two days before my wedding that he’d made me so angry I wanted to pull his head down his throat and out his arse…see? That’s ugly stuff…

At church on Sunday I lost it. I picked kiddo up from the nursery after the passing of the peace so he could be with us for communion prayers. He squirmed, spoke too much and did not follow my instructions. At one point he was reaching for a hymnal on the pew in front of us and I told him not to. He began arguing with me and I got angry. I was mostly angry about arguing about something so stupid – something I didn’t really care about – simply because I’d put my foot down. But I’d put my foot down. War was waged.

At the same time, familiar, peaceful words were left unattended. I was missing the parts of my worship I know by heart; my speaking role. And in the midst of the words I love I snatched up that damn book and I pressed it into his belly. Not too hard, mind you – but I’d wanted to shove it at him.

I cried through the next hymn, my mother’s arm across my shoulders telling me it’s ok…

Then I began to reflect. I started thinking about how I have been doing things, how I might change things, how I might rustle up a happier relationship with the 3 1/2 year old I love so dearly. Here are a few samplings of those meditations…I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts.

  1. I think stay-at-home moms generally have a better sense of routine. It is at the fiber of their very survival and most kids respond well to it. Maybe it’s not because I work…it could just be my temperment…but I wonder if I should mindfully create more structure in our time together
    1b) This idea later sabotaged me when I lost conviction on a punishment decision (withholding his bedtime story)…
  2. There’s a concept of emotional banking I’m familiar with whereas if you (for example) want to have leave to make decisions for a child without suffering him independent growth you supplement that growth with created decision opportunities: Do you want to play outside for fifteen minutes and then take a bath or do you want to go ahead and take your bath now?
  3. I was already looking for guidance before the Hymnal Incident, and our pastor was talking about Doubting Thomas. It’d take some explaining to give Mary’s sermon justice (it was very good) but the message I heard was it’s ok to have doubts: they lead to questions to meditation to growth.
    3b) This was especially comforting as I mused further and thought of how much more confident I’ve been in my parenting at other stages of kiddo’s life. I’m struggling to find my confidence on this one. It’s unsettling.
  4. I am totally getting mine. I never shut up as a kid (and rarely do now). The irony of having an incessant talker for a child is soo Alanis Morissette;)

I’ve spoken with hubby, sissy and mama about my frustrations. They brought new ideas to the table and helped me find more peace on the matter. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. What kind of parenting have you witnessed or practiced? Any guidance, reassurance or (cringe) criticisms for me?

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5 responses to “Mean Mama

  1. There are 2 lines in the sand that, when our children crossed, they knew they had it coming (and by that, I mean they got a good old-fashioned spanking): 1)When they DELIBERATELY disobeyed something we told them to do (ommision), and when they DELIBERATELY disobeyed something we told them NOT to do (commission). Let me give you some examples: If my child stood up in the grocery cart seat when he knew the rule was to sit (and I asked him to sit and stay seated, and he continued to stand)…he’s gettin’ a whoopin’. If my child ran away from me when I asked him to: get in the car, get in the bath, get in bed…you name it…he’s gettin’ a whoopin’. If my child responded to me by sticking his tongue out, (or any other unacceptable response for that matter) instead of answering “yes ma’am” (and he KNOWS the expectation), he’s gettin’ a whoopin’. Anytime the disobedience was DELIBERATE, they were spanked (from about ages 2-9).

    Of course, that takes discernment on the part of the parent. Are they disobeying because they are rebelling, or are they so tired, they are incapable of getting it together, and are having a melt-down? Do they KNOW the expectations? Were we clear beyond doubt? The second part of our responsibility: once we recognize their rebellion, are we swift and consistent to deliver the discipline? I always knew when I let them disobey for too long, because then I was about to lose it. I no longer wanted to give them a spanking, but an all-out beating!

    Anything short of that, received consequences that were as natural and logical as we could get them. Of course, consistency was the key (which we weren’t always, and we usually paid for it later.) If our son left his bike outside instead of putting it away, he lost his privilege to have the bike for… 3 days, 7 days, 1 month…depending on how many times he kept wanting to repeat the lesson. If our boys miss the bus because they poorly managed their time or forgot to set their alarm, and I have to take them to school, they owe me 1 hour of chores when they get home to repay me for my time. Make sense?

    There’s a great book I’d recommend by Kevin Leman, “Have a New Kid by Friday.” Easy to read with some grounded principles. Of course, I’m a firm believer that our children have free will as much as we do. Although it’s our responsibility to discipline them and help them learn how the world works, some are faster learners than others, if you know what I mean. We are only called to respond to their decisions, not make their decisions for them.

    We have by no means been the perfect parents, but these are some nuggets we gleaned over the years. Our boys are now 12, 15, and 19…wish I could say it gets easier. The decisions just get harder to make.

    Stay strong!

  2. Pingback: Mouthgasm 2010: Sandestin « Pot Luck Mama

  3. Alecia,
    I can’t tell you how nice it was to read your comment this weekend…I was beginning to worry that people had nothing to say to a mama as mean as me! I think two things that strike me most about your comment are discernment and consistency. I think I really need to find a sense of consistency…which is probably why I was desperate for a plan! Thank you so much for sharing your nuggets with me…I really appreciate it!

  4. not objective, of course, but I think you are wrong on #1. you are giving stay at home moms the credit of your stay at homecaregiver. In fact, working moms have scheduling and ritual down far greater than those that have flexibility in the schedule.

    Thnak you for allowing me this defensive moment.

  5. Of course! Totally fair, too. All my points are skewed to my own personal experience and I am not nearly as type-A as you are;) . I just hear and read about those moms’ focus on routine so often that I’ve associated them with it. Then I think about my own lack of routine (working late this day, telecommuting the next, evening commitment the next, gotta work on this for just 20 min., kiddo, then we’ll play…) and the contrast strikes me. I should know better than to create a causal relationship where there is none – my bad! Still, listing it out helped me realize that I want to develop a stronger sense of routine in my own household…and what I needed most of all at that moment was a plan of action. I am so thankful I started PLM!!!

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