Since becoming a Mom I have become very hard on myself. As they say, we are our own worst critic. Sometimes I can talk myself out of the self punishing or negative criticism I cast on myself but other days it really gets to me. Like, eats me up inside to the point that I find myself in a downward spiral of picking myself apart. Do you ever find yourself doing that?
Today was one of those days. It started out great. I got Bradley to school on time. I got things done around the house that have been put on the back-burner. The boys both take private swim lessons with the sweetest lady on Wednesdays after school. As usual, Wesley went first and he did great. Then came Bradley's turn. He decided he wasn't there to learn and did whatever he wanted. His instructor asked him repeatedly to listen and do what she was asking and he just ignored her and went about playing. She is very graceful with allowing them time to play and making time to learn. However, today he wasn't cooperating. This is where it went downhill.
I have a very hard time when my kids, especially Bradley (because he is six years old) don't listen to their teacher, coach, parent.... you get the idea. To me, this is showing disrespect. Now, don't get me wrong. There have been times before where he needed a little "Come to Jesus" talk and he would snap out of his bad attitude and go back to the sweet, respectful boy he normally is but today was different. He wouldn't listen. I could have offered a million toys as bribery and it wouldn't have mattered. He was done listening. For some reason, I decided today was not the day that was going to fly with me. When he got out of the pool I took him in the bathroom and told him how disappointed I was in him. I grounded him, like actually grounded him unlike the times before when it was more of a threat than a promise. We got home and he went to his room for an hour. It was a productive hour for both of us. I took my Mommy time-out (lots of deep breaths) and he was able to think about what we talked about on the drive home.
It never fails though. On the days when parenting is the hardest, I beat myself up more than anything. Even when my friends reassure me that what I did was "the right thing to do". It still stings. I hate making my kids upset or even worse, cry. It literally makes my heart break into a million pieces. I feel like a failure because I didn't handle it in the calm, positive way I should have. It is a game of mental ping pong. Back and forth between feeling like I did what was right, to beating myself up for how I reacted. One thing I've noticed is people are really good at brushing kids behavior under the rug. Saying things like "he's just acting like a six year old" or "maybe he's just tired or hungry"... the list goes on. At what point do we say no excuses and actually discipline? Is that in the manual I never received when I had the boys?
My point is, we are so hard on ourselves as Moms. As parents. I am so good at talking my friends through their hard parenting moments and making them feel better about how they handled things but when it comes to myself, I am the Queen of judgement. Why are we like that? I know I'm not alone because I've had this conversation with my friends and they say the same thing. Why are we, as Mothers, so dang hard on ourselves? The only answer I can come up with is we strive for perfection. And our kids are the biggest reflection of us. How we parent. How we discipline. And most importantly, how we love. I want the people in my life to feel respected and loved by me. I will fight until I have nothing left to make sure my boys treat everyone in their life the same way.
What I've learned is this; there is no "right" or "perfect" way to parent. We are a generation raising young kids where we have constant comparison shoved in our faces (I'm lookin' at you, instagram, facebook, pinterest). We are great at sharing our happy moments. Not the moments where we are curled up in the corner of the kitchen crying while our kids are doing the same in their time-out corner. It's freaking hard. It's supposed to be. If it isn't, we should probably reevaluate and set some new goals. Pouring a glass of wine always seems to help, too!
Hang in there, Mama. You're doing great.