Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Parenting Disconnect

"Mom, when you picked us up from school, you seemed like you were happy. And now you seem like you are mad."

It's true. All of it. When I got home from work and found my kids hadn't beat me home, I figured I'd drive to find and pick them up. That's nice, right? When I found them on a different street than I expected, playing with 2 other boys, some rocks, pennies, and a sling shot, I kept my cool. I even drove around the circle of houses so they could shoot the sling shot one more time. Then I let them shoot it one more time. Again. And then I fielded the questions of whether we could play (no: karate in 45 minutes, scouts an hour and 45 minutes after that, and homework to do.) I was going with it. Coaxed them into the car, tried to talk about their day, trying to be the Happy Mom all the way.

But then: I mentioned the 10 minutes more of reading that they had to do, and Ben flipped out. He doesn't want to read, nor does he want to write a note to his teacher to explain why he didn't read. So I lose my temper with him. And then Thomas informs me that he has 2 math pages to finish, from which he keeps asking me questions: what's 72 times 4? Does this 2 need to have 2 decimal points after it? Can I only do 4 more of the 5 questions I have left before karate and then do the rest of them after karate along with my reading? Oh, and will you make me some toast? Can I have some milk with that? Where is my karate belt?

So, yeah, it all equates to a pissed off mom. The minute I decide to be the nice parent, to keep my temper for the whole 45 minutes we have together, I lose it in the next minute. Then I feel bad when my kid asks me why, when I appeared to be nice at first, I'm back to being the grumpy, mean mom that everyone avoids looking at in the grocery store. And I feel guilty that I'm that mom, not the one who answers the children's homework questions nicely and makes their toast happily and handles their tantrums with grace rather than the urge to slap and scream and rage. I think of the recently-popular facebook status says something to the effect of building a child up now is cheaper than therapy later. At this rate, someone's going to be paying a fortune.

It all combines to make me wonder who they think I am, and how it really corresponds with who I think I am.


Britt said...

Me, too, Becky.

It seems like whenever I'm making an extra effort to be a good/patient/nice mother, I always snap worse than if I were just being my natural self.

So I guess we should strive for less-than-average? :)

Amy Sorensen said...

First off: 72 times 4? What the hell? And here i was thinking Kaleb's homework was too hard. He's only on 5x6.

Second: I try really, really hard not to fly into a rage. Especially when the crunch of homework et al is being muddled through. But, holy shiz. It is hard because they just won't settle down and get it done. They want to argue and tease and play and try to bribe their way out of it, and you can feel the clock ticking away and probably there's a laundry catastrophe just around the corner and the kitchen is still messy from last night and for the love of all that is holy...

it's just incredibly easy to fly off the handle.

(Off the handle and into a rage. Who said people can't fly???)

But what I really wanted to say is this: EVERY mom has been the mom people don't want to look at in the grocery store. We don't want to look because we'll be reminded of when it was our turn. Because everyone loses it sometimes.

All you can do is move forward and try harder. That's it. Try again tomorrow. And honestly: I think it is OK to talk to your kids about it. Like...I'm sorry I lost my temper. I apologize. And then ask them to think about how they might have contributed not to you losing your temper but the tension that led up to it.

You are a great mom! You're doing a fabulous job. Hell: you actually take your kids to karate! Mine just sit at home sort of friendless and dazed because I can't swing karate for four kids.


And hugs.

Besides. Facebook statuses are b.s. Platitudes don't raise a child. YOU do. Imperfect but wonderful YOU!!!

Isabel said...

What an interesting question you pose.

I'll never forget the time Marci told me her son said something to her about how much she loves to clean. She was all "I don't love to clean!" and he responded by saying that she must love it since she was always cleaning. Our kids really don't know us. Or rather, sometimes they only know the "me" that likes to clean.

(We are all imperfect parents. It is so hard.)

Lucy said...

Yesterday was Seth’s birthday and I managed to make it almost the whole day keeping my stuff together. One time, I did hiss, “Knock it off!” as he was being obnoxious. It’s hard. But, I wondered, “If I can do it on his birthday, why can’t I do it everyday?” and the answer is because he was being his best self and I was being my best self and, sadly, that is not how we choose to be everyday. But, we can choose to be better minute by minute and say we’re sorry when we lose it. I think they learn a lot when we do apologize.

It’s hard work and you’re doing a great job.

Melanie said...

I'm with the everyone else - you're a great mom! I, too, feel like when I'm trying my very hardest, I end of raging worse than usual. It's so frustrating! At least you know you're not alone in this. :)

Ginger said...

I can't wait until they are older and can tell me if I was horrible or nice in the grand scheme of things. Is that a weird thing to look forward to?