I battle guilt.
While I have wonderful people in my life to remind me how I shouldn't feel this way, which I appreciate, I know that I need to fight this in my timing. It won't be an easy fix for me.
I am currently taking a parenting class so I can understand how to be a better parent. My hope is to learn about behavior and what behavior's are typical during every year of a child's life. My hope is to gain insights into a child's mind since I have felt old for a very, very long time. My hope is to be better as a result of my knowledge.
For the past 2 weeks, as homework, I was supposed to observe how my environment might have an impact on the behavior of my children.
Perhaps I was given this VERY BAD 2 WEEKS so I could more clearly observe. ("What a gift," she says sarcastically.)
Our daycare provider graciously offered to open 30 minutes earlier to accommodate my schedule and needs. This means, we are up before the sun to start getting ready for our day. Over the course of time, I have learned what works for my kids in terms of our morning routine to get out the door and arrive on time.
Well, I thought I knew....until these past two weeks.
To be totally un-PC: My sweet 1 1/2 year old decided he was 2 this week. My 3 year old decided he was also 2 this week.
My Morning Story
As soon as I enter my 1 1/2 year old's room, he starts screaming "No", and then incessantly screams until I drop him off at daycare. I often greet him warmly, as I always have. But this week....it didn't matter what I did. He shoves himself in the corner of his pack 'n' play (I had to get rid of the crib because he kept flinging himself from it) and knocks his head on the wall and bangs his fists. He also kicks me when he has the chance.
Here are steps I take to try to navigate this behavior:
- Give him space: Perhaps I am rushing him, or he wants to wake up on his own. So, I try this, and it makes him more frustrated.
- Don't give him space: Perhaps he resents me from the day before when all I could do after daycare pickup was prepare his dinner and put him to bed. Maybe he has leftover anger and he wants alone time with me. So, I give him more love and coo and love on him. This also makes him more frustrated.
- More sleep: Perhaps he isn't sleeping long enough. So, I put him to bed earlier. Still, the mood has not changed.
- Less sleep: Maybe he doesn't need more sleep. So, I wait one night for 1/2 hour, then the next night for an hour before putting him to sleep. NOPE.
- Sick or teething: Perhaps he is teething.....This is my go to for misbehavior in toddlers. But is every behavioral issue about teething or being sick?
- Hunger: Nope. Let's just say his bed is a mess from that one time I tried giving him food to calm him down.
- Thirst: I let him sleep with water now.
- Temperature: I just had a fan installed that constantly runs because my boys sleep hot.
- Jesus: Maybe if I pray to understand what he needs, some crazy wacky idea will come that is obviously from Heaven, because as a mere mortal I can't think of it myself. Still waiting to hear back from the big guy.
The 3 year old
I know ownership is really important to this age group, so a while back, Dean and I would rehearse our morning routine right before he went to sleep as a way for him to set up his morning. Perhaps he forgets or something, because NOTHING goes the way he owned the night before. If anything, he often cries and shouts at me even after I give him something (within reason) that he is demanding of me. He also kicks.
We have had 'incidents' in the past where we have had to pull over to go to the bathroom, missed the bathroom, and everything revolving around not going to the bathroom before we leave our house. It has been dramatic for him, not to mention me. So, the number one (ha, get it) thing I have tried to instill and something that he has taken ownership before in the past is TRYING to go to the bathroom.
TANGENT: So, in my class I just learned that 3 year old's forget easily because that part of their brain is still developing. Answer me this: how is it that my 3 year old can't remember that he said he was going to go to the bathroom, but can remember the time I said I was going to make cookies like 2 weeks ago?
Anyway, he has been able to go to the bathroom EVERY time. But is insistent that if he tries and can't, that he is Scott free. This is where it gets hard. I know he has to, but he - for some reason - does not want to. With force and lots of loud words, he finally decides to go to the bathroom. I have yet to hear a stream that lasts less than 1 minute (that means he has a lot of pee in there).
Then the following battle ensues:
Me: Do you want to use the green or red soap? (Because when I give him choice over which soap to use, the argument ISN'T about whether he should wash his hands or not).
Dean: (He has caught onto this trick and says,) "I don't want to wash my hands!"
Then we argue about germs and illness and I can't seem to convince him, so more loud words come out of my mouth.
By the time I get in the car, I am angry, my kids are angry - and you know what, IT SUCKS!
I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.
I already hated mornings, and now.....hate isn't a strong enough word.
BUT THEN (Because every bad story requires a moral of the story, right)
I posted my grief on Facebook so I wouldn't feel so bad about me, myself, my parenting, my value....because I was feeling defeated. I asked my friends with pets and/or children to tell me about how their mornings went.
And, luckily, my amazing Facebook community helped me realize I wasn't alone. And you know....it feels good not to feel alone, because that is something else I feel a lot of.
One response said, "CHAOS." A perfect response.
Deanna A. Thompson, author of Glimpsing Resurrection: Cancer, Trauma, and Ministry tells of a cancer story by J. Todd Billings, who said, "Even though [Billings] story constantly courts anomie [lack of usual social or ethical standards], Billings finds comfort in trusting that a nomos exists within God's story. Even when he cannot himself grasp it, he trusts it is there."
My takeaway is even though my story right now is *CHAOS*, I can find comfort in knowing that God's story isn't.
That is what has sustained me today. I am hoping it will sustain me tomorrow.