I’ve known this for a while. Some of you who know me in real life are thinking, “Why? She’s always calm when I see her.” Ya, well, how many of you act the exact same in public as you do in your own home (all the time)?
It started with getting pregnant for the second time. With twins. By my son’s second birthday I was about six weeks pregnant and about ready to die. I felt MISERABLE and it didn’t let up for a long, long time. My son was a dream child and managed to not drive me insane during these very difficult months but I wasn’t as good of a mom as I knew I should be. I felt crappy and hormones were going crazy PLUS we were freaking out about money and things like the new Corolla we’d just purchased that WOULD NOT fit two infant carseats and a toddler seat (I tried putting them in at least twenty times thinking this time there will be more room somehow!). It was a rough time and it didn’t get easier once the twins were on the outside. I spent the first week horizontal because of a spinal headache (all the fluid leaks out of your skull and spinal column due to a puncture when I was given an epidural–super painful to have your brain sitting directly on your skull!) and then, well, I had to care for newborn twins! My husband was working too much too far away at his new job and was on call every other weekend. Things finally started getting easier when the twins were six months old and i went back to work and when I finished the school year (when they were nine months old) they started eating everything, I mean EVERYTHING and we started the next chapter of our lives called “mommy-can’t-talk-girls-are-eating-something-disgusting-gotta-run”. It lasted for the next YEAR. Oh, and did I mention I got pregnant when the girls turned one? Yep. not exactly in my plan but it happened and, luckily, it was an easy pregnancy but not completely without hormonal swings and vicious mommy insanity. And now I just don’t sleep because my 7-month-old is hungry all.night.long (he’s over 20lbs, not sure what he’s thinking!).
<sigh> There are always plenty of excuses, right? I have days where I want to throw up my hands and whine about how hard I have it but I try not to. I have many people in my life who handle a lot more a lot more gracefully and they are my inspiration (even if it’s only on the outside).
But it’s got to stop. I’ve turned into someone I don’t like. I yell. I request things of my children that are not reasonable. I have spanked (I’m deeply shamed by this) and I’ve even spanked a child and said, “You don’t hit!” which I know is absolutely insane.
So now I’ve admitted my deepest shames and my greatest parenting faults to you but I am also sharing my intentions to change.
I’ve made a lot of changes over the past few years including changing the way we eat, de-cluttering and managing my home, and working with a very constricted budget. All of these changes were difficult for me to make, very difficult, but the reward has been worth it.
Small steps equal big change.
I have already begun my transformation to becoming a zen parent by making a point to laugh with my children every day. Again, people who know me may be wondering what I’m talking about because I’m generally a very happy person but I’ve noticed, lately, that I am acting like my children are an annoyance to my happiness instead of the cause. I’ve realized (in the way they look at me, turn away, or sneak over towards me) that I haven’t been fun to be around like I used to be. Maybe the twins never even knew me as “fun” and Peanut only sees it when we’re alone at night (probably the reason he wants to stay up all night with me!). That is a truly horrible realization. So I brought on the laughter and instead of being exasperated with them for not doing what I wanted them to do (usually involving getting dressed or undressed) I chose to instead laugh. I put a toddler shirt on my head, start a tickle fight or try to eat someone’s neck. Guess what? That super important thing I really wanted my kid to do that second got done right after the laughter died down (usually still with smiles on our faces). And it was done without fighting, without guilt, without feeling drained and tired. I need to do that more.
The next big step is going to be to stop yelling. And I mean full stop, no more crappy tone of voice or anything louder than conversational tone (with the exception of emergency safety related situations and then it’s only to call attention not to reprimand or convey anger). I’ll breathe, I’ll count to ten, I’ll walk away before I yell or make any kind of negative noise. I know I desperately need this because Pinky has been saying things like “FINE” in that teenager-type way or huffing when I ask her to do something. I’ve been a very negative role model and it’s not only to my kids, my husband has let go too and is following in my non-zen parenting footsteps. As primary caregiver in this house I have a lot of power to lead my people. The change must start with me and then it will ripple through our home. Yay! I’m feeling more zen right now just writing about making this change (even as Peanut is chewing on my computer cord and fussing at my feet)–putting thoughts into words has that effect on me. Next step: Words into Actions!