(P.S. I wore this outfit on Sunday to the grocery store and apparently the back dragged all over the floor and when I got home it was black and filthy. #fail.)
Before I became a mom I had the thought that I was going to be the best mother. See, I loved kids. I babysat at an early age, worked in several daycare centers and had a connection with kids that came easy to me. I could successfully swaddle a baby and knew the ins and out of how to care for a child. Motherhood should be easy, right?
I wasn’t prepared for the actual reality of what taking care of a child 24/7 would be like. Not just any child, but mine. Knowing how much I loved this little being with all my heart and being in charge of its very life. Nobody tells you how to get your child to sleep through the night, or when to start solid foods, how to potty train, deal with hitting, or how to react when your child breaks their arm, or eats half a tube of diaper cream. Nobody mentions how to know when crying it out is okay, or what to do when babies only sleep 15 minutes at a time or what do do when a child spikes a fever. I know the answers to these question, now, but only because I have five plus years invested and so many hours reading child care books and just pure experience to guide me. Now my children are getting older and I have bigger issues than sleeping and eating habits (which is good?)
What surprises me now is how I react to my children and to stress that I never expected. I have talked to a lot of friends and family and one of the biggest things we discuss (and are surprised by) is the anger we feel. Honestly, I never knew I had an anger problem until I had children. Now I’m not talking about hurting my kids or anything like that, so please don’t think that is what I’m discussing. I’m talking about the feelings that come over me when I’m home with two children (or one, ’cause that’s all it takes) and how I react to their behavior. Here are some examples of things I do:
-The kids fight outside my door while I’m getting dressed and I come out, tell them to stay away from each other and then slam my door to have a second of quiet for myself.
-Slamming my hands on the counter to make my kids stop arguing.
-Sitting a child down in timeout just a little harder than I should.
-Yelling louder than normal when a child isn’t listening to directions.
I’m often embarrassed for myself after I do these things and don’t like it. I hate it, actually. I spend a lot of time reading books on behavior for myself and the kids and work hard to raise them well. I’d like to think I’m being a good mom, but there are so many moments where I’m proven wrong (by my own actions) and I feel like I’m messing everything up. I want to be a better mother and deal with stress better than I do now. But how? Is it the summer time freedom that creates more chaos? The days are a bit more free this time of year and with less activities planned they tend to get irritated with each other more. They are 17 months apart and have two modes, they either love each other completely or they are driving each other crazy. Which in turn drives me crazy. The constant need to separate them or referee their fights is unnerving and it starts at 7am and continues until they go to bed. I often find myself solving arguments between them and dealing with their individual issues (a stubborn and willful three year old, a sassy and constantly pushing my limits five year old) and the way I solve the problems is not always in the most calm manner.
I don’t want to be a yeller, or someone who my kids look back on that they don’t respect. My most important goal is to raise them to be good people who can be responsible and honest and giving towards others. I’m working on pushing myself out of my comfort zone and doing more in little spurts. Casey wrote a great post last week on the power of saying yes that I just adore and really hit home for me. (Read it, I promise it will change the way you look at your children.) Another thing I do, and I have for awhile now, is apologize to my kids if my actions or words have gotten out of line. I lay in bed with them and tell them what I did wrong and what I should have done better. I want them to know that I am not perfect and I always want them to know that they don’t have to be either. This usually helps me with the guilt I feel at night when I’m laying it bed an replaying in my head the goings on of the day.
Is that another thing no one talks about? The guilt you will feel is so immense and has gotten bigger as they have grown. I think about the day and what I wish I had done and how I want to be better. A better mom, wife, friend. Everything, I guess.
I’m working on my anger and my reactions to my children. It is a daily battle that I never expected to face, one that seems inconceivable when you are holding a little newborn in your arms. You never think that child will push you to the end of your limits and teach you more about yourself than you ever thought. I know I am surprised. You see, I thought I’d be an amazing mother, but I’ll have to settle for being the mom that tries her hardest, instead.