The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Monday, June 27, 2005

I actually learned something from a parenting magazine

It was a silly little poll in a silly little parenting magazine. Even the results were pretty predictable; 69% of readers said they'd like to be the child of a mom like them. Just another tidbit to fill the page -- the kind of thing you read and move on. But I didn't.

A year ago, I'm sure I would have answered yes to this question in a heartbeat. Of course I'd like a mom like me. I'm involved and interested and supportive and loving and yadda yadda yadda. But lately, as good as my intentions are, my actions don't always back them up. As Julia continues to test -- and try -- my patience, the rules get more arbitrary, the edge creeps into my voice more often, the punishments flow freely. I yell a lot these days. Much, much more than I want or need to.

I still think that I'm a good mom, and that despite my impatience, I'm doing the best I can to raise good people. But would I actually want to be parented this way? Probably not.

There are 2 issues at play here. I'm increasingly finding that I can't just be my kids' favorite companion all the time any more; there are times now when I need to be the authority figure and set some boundaries. That part's not fun, but I think it's important and I'm confident that I'm doing the right thing. The larger issue and the part that disturbs me is that I'm afraid I'm not making the transition from friend to disciplinarian as gracefully as I could. I'm still rattled by having to be the bad guy. And when I'm rattled, I lose my composure. I snap. I yell. Not the stuff of fairy tale childhoods.

It can't all be fairy tale-like all the time, I know that. But I'm totally thrown by the realization that I wouldn't want to grow up in a house where people yelled as much as I've yelled lately. I keep telling myself that this limit testing stuff is a stage and she'll outgrow it soon. But I suspect that she's probably not the only one in this household who has a little growing up to do. Motherhood's not always going to be lazy afternoons spent giggling over books and tickle fights. Sometimes, I'm going to have to get tough. And if I want to do my job well, I need to learn to do that a lot more gracefully than I am right now. Easier said than done, I know. But the good news is, if I can figure it out, I suspect my daughter and I will both grow up to be nicer people as a result.


At 7:30 PM, Blogger Suzanne said...

Terrific post! I am struggling with some of the same issues. Sometimes after my tripwire has gone off, I think to myself "Where on earth did that voice come from?" I am usually patient, but I'm dismayed at how frequently parenting has strained the limits of that patience. I guess these lessons I'm learning about how I respond to various stresses will help me learn to cope better. Or so I tell myself!

At 9:09 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

How 'bout another side of the story? Maybe, just maybe, we're putting ourselves up to an impossible standard. Although I'm not condoning it day in, day out, we can't possibly be expected to *not* raise our voice, ever, in light of our kids' antics. To presume that we should would be setting us up for failure...Yeah, patience is a virtue, but I prize sanity more. I may not be proud of it when I do it, but, hey, we're all human...

At 7:30 AM, Blogger gkgirl said...

my mom yelled alot
but we knew she loved us
more than anything
at the same time
and that more than made up for it

and she never held onto it
once you got yelled at for it
it was over and done with...

i turned out pretty good
in my own head anyway

At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Gretchen C. said...

Both Sam and Matt yell, at times, and Ben and I are having to face the fact that they must be learning this behavior from us. True, in a household like ours you sometimes have to shout to be heard, but it's not a mirror into which we really enjoy looking. Still, there it is. Parenting isn't always graceful; most of the time we've got one foot on a banana peel and the other one in our mouths.


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