It’s these kinds of posts that are the hardest to write. The kind that you’re not quite sure how to even begin. I sit here trying to make sense of the angst thrashing around in the depths of my heart, trying to find the words to say what it is that has brought me here, to this place, to my knees. What makes it harder to share is that I have always been open around the issue of motherhood and all it’s ups and downs and have advocated our need to make the most of these early years. To embrace the madness and enjoy each stage for what it brings. And I’ll be honest, what makes it even harder is knowing I’m certainly not alone in this, in fact there are many mothers dealing with far worse than I am. But I need to express my heart. Like a dam filling up after months of rain, I fear the walls of my heart are about to burst. Not with love. Not with joy. Not with excitement or exhilaration. No. With Tears. With sadness and despair. With so many tears.
I guess I need to just come out and say it. I want to run away. I want to walk out my front door, get into my car and drive away from the mad house. The circus that has become my life. I have had urges so strong the last few weeks that I’m surprised I’m even still here. I have hit such a low that I’m not sure I will ever see the light again. My 3 year old has stretched me further than I though possible and it only seems to be getting worse. There have been times these last few weeks where I have locked myself in the bathroom and sobbed. I have sat there on the floor not able to get up. Too tired and afraid I will hurt the child screaming on the other side of the door. There have been countless times where I have cried myself to sleep where after another bad day I have gone to sleep with my very own hateful words echoing through my weary brain Noah why are you so naughty all the time? What is wrong with you? Why can’t you ever listen? You are such a mean big brother! Look you always make him cry!!! I’m sick and tired of this Get out of my face. Yes, these are the things I say to my 3-year-old son.
It hasn’t always been like this. Most of you (who know me anyway) will know it’s not in my nature to be mean or angry. And you will know Noah to be a rad little boy. The love I have for this child goes beyond any words. I am mad about him. Lately however I’ve spent a lot more time being mad AT him. The Noah I usually get to see is kind, gentle and sensitive. He is quirky and silly and although he is a deep thinker, he goes about his day with a light heartedness that I guess most kids do. He is generally an uncomplicated and breezy kid. A LETS JUST HAVE FUN kind of kid. Which is why my heart aches when is see him act out and turn into the most defiant, angry child. And yes, I get it all kids get naughty from time to time but it would seem Noah has taken things to whole new level. The other day I had a pile of toys delivered to our front door. Before you get too excited they weren’t new toys: they were the boys toys they had managed to throw out our window. I’m talking about huge trucks, remote control cars and a couple buckets of LEGO. While these things are more mischievous than naughty, there have been other times for instance where he hasn’t listened about not throwing stones only to end up hurting a little girl. Or screaming so
I end up in tears, wondering how on earth I’ve raised such a tyrant and begging the question What am I doing wrong as a parent? I’m consistent for the most part: I’ve tried the positive affirmation thing (after coming to terms with the fact that I have little bit of helicopter mom in me), I’ve taken away privileges and sweets, I’ve done hidings, time out, you name it I’ve done it all. And with no success! It’s really no wonder I’m beginning to lose hope.
* I left this post for a few days and came back to it last night.
I wrote the start of this post on Monday (I left it out of pure exhaustion!) and I as I read it over to see how I can make adjustments (it was written in a rather low moment, I didn’t need people sending me the suicide hotline number or my husband staging a family intervention), I am reminded how unpredictable this journey of parenting can be. You see, in three days my son has come back to me. His behavior has done a complete 360 and I have seen the light at the end of what at the time seemed like an endless tunnel. Isn’t it funny how when you are in the thick of it you feel things will never change? I’ve asked myself so many questions over the last few days, trying to make sense of why Noah acted out for those two weeks and what I may have done to contribute to his behavior. You see I don’t think I took a step back and asked myself the critical questions. I was too busy asking him WHY don’t you listen? WHATS wrong with you? WHERE do you learn to be so naughty? I should have been asking him HOW are you feeling? Why are you so angry and frustrated? What happened at school today? Or sometimes it is the very simple question Do you need a hug? All these questions would have helped me get a better idea of what he is going through. And it would have given me the tools to help him.
When he doesn’t listen, I have realized it’s usually because he is craving attention. And yes, my first response to this is that he gets plenty of it! (And that doesn’t excuse despicable behavior!) But I’ve been watching myself more closely the last few days and seen how my doting and fussing over my 1 year old can leave him feeling left out. Often I don’t realize how I’m constantly praising Brody and assuming Noah has graduated from this phase to being Mr independent who doesn’t need mommy so much.
So I put this theory to the test and every time I kissed Brody out of the blue, I would go and find Noah and smother him with kisses and whisper something in his ear. Even if he wasn’t in the room when I kissed Brody, I would go and find him, cuddle him for 5 minutes and ask him how he was doing. In essence I was making sure his emotional reserve was full so that when he needed to follow instructions at a later stage he was respectful and loving, he was secure in his emotions and listened first time. Can it really be that easy all the time? I highly doubt it. Kids get cranky and tired and play up for all sorts of reasons but at least I know I’m going through the process of elimination and hopefully not allowing things to escalate to the point that i’m mopping up my tears off the floor. Or wanting to run away.
I’ve had to realise that the things my children do are not always a reflection of the kind of parent I am. If my child is nasty or doesn’t listen when I tell him to do something, it doesn’t mean that I’m the kind of mother that tolerates that. I don’t need to take it so personally or respond out of my desperate need to deal with Noah and make him good for my sake. I need to remember that the sole reason I discipline him is for HIS benefit, so that he can become socially acceptable and grow into a respectable young man. When I shake off the need to prove (that my kids are angels) to others, I feel so much freedom and a greater joy in my role. I feel the weight lift off my exhausted shoulders and I stand tall knowing my son is learning. I stand tall knowing he is already such a gift to this world, such a blessing of a life who is learning to be everything God made him, one child sized lesson at a time.