Thursday, February 26, 2009

Confessions of a Mad Mother

I have to admit everyone's right. Being a parent is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I've learned so much about myself these past couple of years; some things I like, many I don't. I feel like I need therapy now, but I can't afford it, so I'm trying the next best thing: writing and sharing with family and friends.

This past year has been really tough for me as a parent. Parker started tantrums early, around one year of age, and they've continued to escalate. My health has been all over the place with my thyroid issues and my injured back and I've been using those things to excuse my number one issue right now: rage. Since my health has been stabilizing lately and the rage still comes once in awhile, I think there's more of an emotional aspect deep down that brings it out rather than a physical one. It doesn't come from thin air, it does need some provoking to come out, but still, I don't feel like I can excuse it anymore.

Monday, as an example, Parker wanted to go outside to watch Dada's truck come home. Since he didn't fall asleep during his quiet time, I thought it would be best to get his bath done early to be prepared for an early bedtime. I told him we could go out to meet Dada's truck if he took a really quick bath first. Of course, getting him in the bath is a struggle, but we managed OK. Then, once he was in, he was having a lot of fun and didn't want to come out. I explained to him that if he wanted to meet Dada's truck in time, he'd have to come out. He didn't seem to care, so I let it go for awhile and let him play some more. Long story short, it finally clicks in his head that he wants to see Dada's truck, but by that time I knew Jake would be home soon and we wouldn't have time so I told him that unfortunately because he didn't get out when I asked, he wouldn't get to see Dada's truck. He started crying and throwing a huge fit and refused to get out of the tub (at this point the tub was empty, thank goodness). With my back hurting, I didn't want to just reach in there and pull him out unless I absolutely had to. With him sitting there wailing, ignoring any reasoning I tossed his way, I could feel the anger creeping up and up and I knew I needed to step away for a minute, but I couldn't. I was afraid he'd get hurt if I left him alone. So of course I didn't leave. I opened up the bathroom door thinking if he got cold enough he would want to get out. It didn't work, he just wailed on and on, nothing I said hitting home. Then it happened, I lost all control. I dragged him out and gave him a whack on his bottom, which surprised him but of course didn't help with the crying. As much as I didn't enjoy doing it, I do admit I wanted to hit him. I was so angry at him for being so stubborn, for being good only when he gets things his way, for being EXACTLY LIKE ME! The spanking event ruined my night and I stressed about it the rest of the evening. I stayed up late mulling it over, and woke up early mulling it over.

I know anyone who spends enough time with me knows this without my saying, but I am an anal control freak. I think to some extent I've always known that about myself, but I never realized how much of one I was and how much it negatively affects others until I became a mother. Honestly I can't even stand myself sometimes. I hear things coming out of my mouth and I wish I could just duct tape it shut. I wish there were really such a thing as a chill pill that I could take. I don't handle stress well. My reasoning shuts down and I do and say things that even I don't understand.

So I'm trying to be open and honest about my rage problem. I don't believe in spanking in general. Growing up with it, I don't think it really works, and it was not in my parenting plan (there I go again, needing to follow a plan) to use it. But I know that if someone chooses to use spanking as discipline, it needs to come from a calm, in-control place, not one of anger. There's a fine line between spanking and abuse, and that line is easily crossed when one is in road rage mode. I know all this, but I let it happen anyway.

I truly think the anger comes from disliking myself, from doubting myself as a wife and mother. I always want to excel at everything. I've always set the bar high for myself from getting good grades to working hard, etc. You'd think that working hard would be enough to make me feel proud of myself, but I also want to see good results from my hard work. It drives me crazy that I can do things "by the book" and it won't work on Parker (like napping). It upsets me when I spend hours working on a meal only to have it turn out barely edible. I feel like I need to have the place in tip top shape when the hubby gets home because that's my share of the work load, and when I have those days when it just doesn't happen because I either felt like crap or had a hard day with Parker, I feel guilty... and then I feel angry for feeling guilty.

When I go through these things, I start having flashbacks of my childhood. I don't want to say my parents were bad parents, but I do think there was a lot of dysfunction and in general, quite a few scary things that happened. I don't want it to be like that for Parker. I'm so afraid I'm going to damage him and he's going to grow up resenting or hating me. I know I'm not the only mommy who worries about this, but I can't help feeling a little bit alone in all of this sometimes.

But seeing as how this is supposed to be Thankful Thursday, I do want to end my Therapy Thursday (haha) on a more positive note:

*I'm thankful Parker and I had an awesome time together on Tuesday... he slept in late, took an almost two hour nap, and went down easily for bed (let's not discuss Wednesday).
*I'm thankful I was able to sit down last weekend and get three weeks of blogs done (excluding my Thankful Thursdays).
*I'm thankful Parker woke up talking two times this week instead of crying.
*I'm thankful for my son's sense of humor (yes, I'm a piggy and I also smell like monkey balls).
*I'm thankful my hubby has taken over bedtime with Parker. I get to say goodnight and Jake gets to stay in with Parker and make up all the awful[ly great] stories while I get a head start on me time. Parker goes down without a peep almost every night now. I remember my Dad telling us stories and reading us books before bed. I think it's precious Parker is going to have those memories, too.
*I'm thankful for my little sister's comments on our blogs :), and...
*I'm thankful knowing there will come a day when I can look back on this time and miss it fondly.


MOMMY-MOMO said...

oh erin. sorry you're struggling with this. but just know... TOTALLY NORMAL! not excusable... but normal. us mothers all have those loose it moments. The good thing is that you recognize it and acknowledge them. They do call them terrible twos (and from what i hear 3's are harder...oh joy) for a reason. its a hard age and it will pass and true we will be sad when it does. Being new to this journey as well I dont have much advice. Just wanted you to know you're not alone.

We dont believe in spanking either. bc yes, most times comes from anger and many other reasons I dont like it. Parker wont be traumatized or even remember the little swat. You guys are gonna be okay.

Parker is a funny, smart, good little boy and you are a good mother! Everything will work itself out. I know its hard, but try not to worry about the cooking, and housework.... cause really in the big picture its not important.

Okay thats my pep talk. I should take some of my own advice. hehe

Eartaste said...

Your openness will help you in the long run. It's just like therapy, except you're venting to people who love you instead of a stranger. It takes a lot of guts to vent in front of people who love you. There's a lot of cowardice in our society, which is why we feel freer talking to strangers.

The good thing about therapy is finding out you're not alone. I think you'll find that same support with friends, since you are being honest with them.

You know my favorite book, and I challenge anyone to find a family in it that is not "dysfunctional". Heck, Jesus' own mother had to lay a guilt trip on him to get him to make some wine. It's part of our moral history. Once that concept comes to fruition in your mind, you can allow yourself to start to put the fun back in dysfunctional.

And, just for fun, being the perpetrator of some monstrous acts, I will be the first to agree with you that spanking will very seldom bring the desired result (usually that would be compliance), especially when done in anger. But I believe that since you are open about this, and so willing to build a support group among your friends, that you have probably learned this lesson much earlier than some of us did, and it will help you to be a conscientious and loving mom.

Love, Dad

Stacy Roman said...

Here's the ironic thing for you...something that has been told to me a few times. You know that you're doing it right when you feel like you could have done better, done more or done it differently. If you didn't feel that way, then I'd worry about you. :)

I always feel bad for Gavin. I almost feel like he was my guinea pig. His 2s and 3s were HORRIBLE. His temper flared at 18 months and didn't stop until Lauren was about 5 months old. Even nowadays (he's 6), he'll have a breakdown every now and again. But like you, I was just so frustrated because I would try everything and nothing seemed to work. Finally, I just decided to throw it in the wind and really watch him and see how his mind works. It's amazing how much you can see if you just step back and watch for a little bit. I have to admit that it's been easier with Lauren, because I know what to expect now. However, they are COMPLETELY different kids, so what worked on one, may not work on the other.

That being said, you are doing such a good job for what you're given. All you can ever do is the best that you can in that moment. Knowing you, I know that you always give 110%, even if it feels like it was maybe 75%. :)

Keep you head high and proud. You are a wonderful mom.

Sarah Soos said...

At least you didn't spank him with a hanger :P

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