I just do. I break down. I fall apart. I ask my head, why am I doing this parenting thing? I just can’t handle it anymore.
Micah (age 6) and I have had a really tough 24 hours. It happens sometimes and fortunately not as much as it used to. But yesterday he was overtired and decided to push his limits with taking off his seat belt while the car was moving. I pulled over and rebuckled. He took it off again. I pulled over and took him out of the car. He threw a ball into a stranger’s yard. We spent 10 minutes in a face-off outside the car over him picking up the ball and getting back in. I removed his “movie night” TV privileges. I counted out a week of days of no DS playing. I finally threatened and removed his chance to go to Kennywood the next day. Nothing. Finally, I got in the car and closed the door to him and put down the screen as if to show the TV to his cousin. Quick as a wink, he grabbed the ball and climbed in. I put the screen back up and we drove home in silence.
He drives me absolutely bananas sometimes. He wants to climb the fight ladder and I can’t resist….I get right on it with him. We’re clinging to the sides, clambering over each other to see who can reach the top first. We’re exchanging rough words. He’s swinging at me, I’m deflecting his blows. We can’t stop. The adrenaline is charging.
I tell him that I own the top. It is mine as his parent. I will win the fight. It is not worth it to him. But in the moment, it is. And today, the top was reached when I dragged him upstairs, closed him in Noah’s room, and left him….shredding a book. I fell off the ladder, tears streaming down my face as I cleaned Mac n’ Cheese from Seth’s high chair tray.
This is hard work.
I want to kick that ladder away.
I want cuddles with Micah.
I want gentle whisperings of love.
But those moments are few and fleeting.
The rage inside him worries me and the anger that swells within me stings.
We separate. We recover.
I kiss him.
He is my son and I love him.
Yet, sometimes I cry.
I have had these days. I think if you don’t have these days, it can show that you’re not really invested heart and soul in this parenting thing. I struggled for a long time with angry kids and an angry self and I did finally get some professional help. I also admit I changed some things about our lifestyle, and those changes may not be accessible options to every mom. But one thing I try very hard to do, and I fail at it, is not argue back. That’s almost impossible sometimes, but it’s a goal I try to work on. Also, it’s totally, 100%, absolutely OK to cry as a mom or dad. But it’s feels so much better to smile, doesn’t it?
Thanks for the reply, Elizabeth. It’s so appropriately timed, as my sister and I were just talking this evening about how it’s so hard not to escalate and reply in anger, despite knowing that that is exactly what the boys want and just rewards them. It’s a great goal and one I keep trying every day. As well as “today, I’m going to be the best parent I can.”