Resolution

Thank you to everyone for the kind words last week after I vomited emotions all over the place. I promise next time I’ll try to find a  bucket or something instead. It’s so great to have a support system that will both sympathize with me and remind me that I’m an awesome mom doing a great job when I’m having a bad day. I was planning to write thoughtful, personal replies to each one of you, well, I didn’t. Please feel free to send me hate email. I could even cry a little if you want, I’m in that kind of place these days.

The thing is though…I’m not really an awesome mom and I don’t think I’m doing a great job. I don’t mean that in a cute “OMG I’m so fat!” fishing for compliments sort of way – I mean I am impatient and frustrated and uninvolved and feel like I struggle with good parenting more than anyone else around me. I raise my voice far more than I should, and I often let it get beyond just voice-raising to yelling. I swat Little Evan’s hands instead of firmly redirecting his attention. I spend a LOT of time online – something that’s gotten totally out of control since I’ve become a recluse who never leaves her house – instead of letting him interact with other kids and burn off his energy. Sometimes when he’s crying for no reason I give up trying to comfort him a lot sooner than I should. I make a lot of excuses not to sit on the floor and play with him (I’m too busy! I’m too pregnant! I’m too tired! I’m too sick!) but get annoyed when he tries to climb on me on the couch. And poor baby Caroline had to throw a huge fit for the past two days to get me to hold her for longer than it took to nurse. It’s just so much easier to put her in a swing and let her sleep all day while I deal with Little Evan instead of give her the attention and cuddles she deserves.

Sometimes I imagine there’s are secret Dr. Phil Family-style cameras in my house watching me spend the day parenting and more days than not I would be embarrassed to let anyone see the video. I can just picture myself sitting across from Dr. Phil himself and all he’s doing is shaking his head in disappointment. I’m being imaginary shamed by a fake TV doctor and he’s RIGHT.

SO. Instead of resolving to make dinner every night or finish two loads of laundry a day or always wear make-up or lose weight, my goal for 2011 is to be a better mom. More patient, more involved, more fun, more cuddly, and more like the mom my kids deserve. Part of that resolution includes taking better care of myself (no more ignoring symptoms and putting off appointments) because it’s so so much harder to be calm and rational in the face of a screaming toddler when your head feels like it’s going to explode and you can barely sit up. But the ultimate goal is for all of us – the whole family of four – to be happier, calmer and more loving. Because I DO love my kids and I never ever want them to doubt it for even a second. 2011 is the year I become the awesome mom I know I can be.

And then I’m going to punch imaginary Dr. Phil in his face.

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25 Responses to “Resolution”

  1. We all have moments, days, weeks, months where we’re not exactly the parent we want to be. The fact that you acknowledge that you can and WANT to do better speaks volumes about the type of mother you really are – even when you don’t feel “it.”

    It’s a VERY difficult transition from one to two and not something that happens overnight. Take it easy on yourself – your routine is still to be found. And, take care of yourself too. In your quest to be a better mom, you really need to be the best YOU first.

    xoxo

  2. Lisa says:

    I don’t know if this helps, but my mom yelled at me ALL OF THE TIME and I turned out great. I’m a normal, well-adjusted adult with a master’s degree and a happy marriage. My mom would yell at me for pushing my sister, for not picking up my toys, for walking on the back of the sofa, for never wanting to go to bed on time… She’d yell at me because my brother did something wrong and she was annoyed with all 4 of us kids. She’d yell because we were doing something stupid or dangerous or annoying or we weren’t listening. I wouldn’t say that it was super effective parenting, but it didn’t do any lasting damage. She never called us names or belittled us or made us feel like she didn’t love us. She just had one voice level when she wanted us to do something, and it was yelling. Today I have a very healthy and wonderful relationship with my mom.

  3. Meg says:

    What Tiffany said–and honestly, a painful kidney infection is going to affect how you do your job, whether that job is teaching a classroom full of kids, running a corporation, or being a mom. Cut yourself a little slack, because it’s put you in the hospital and you’re going to have to have surgery for it!

  4. Abby says:

    I love this post, because it is SO something I needed to read today. That there are other moms out there who don’t feel good enough is somehow…enough for me. I have days where I mentally tally up the time I spent playing with my kids and giving them my undivided attention, and some days that tally comes in at a whopping big fat ZERO. And I feel like the worst mother ever to walk the earth. So, no advice, just a pat on the back and hopefully the knowledge that there are lots of moms who feel the same as you do. Lots.

  5. TMae says:

    Let’s see, two kidney hospitalizations, one birth hospitalization, more kidney fun, snOMG, house guests, and GIVING BIRTH in the last, what…5 weeks? Oh, and don’t forget the newborn baby. Imaginary Dr. Phil needs to put his wagging finger away and remember that in the middle of winter everything seems harder, and bleaker than it really is.

    I have every confidence that you’re already an awesome mom, who will only be more awesome once you have two properly functioning kidneys, and some days with temperatures greater than freezing.

    xo

  6. molly says:

    I feel the same way sometimes. With the added guilt-trip of being a working mom and not seeing my kids and spending quality time with them on a daily basis.

    During the week, when I get off work, it’s all about HURRY and get these kids to bed so I can just have a freaking moment to myself. No coworkers. No kids. No whining and no one needing anything.

    I need to be better about having a rule where the 2-3 hours I do get to spend with my kids after work is quality time.

    And lately, Landon has been saying, “Mommy, put phone down on table.” Wow. Even HE thinks I’m spending too much time on my iphone. It’s so not worth it.

    Good luck with your resolution. Have two kids is wonderful but it’s a tough transition and balancing act.

  7. LCW says:

    I can relate in the fact that when I was nannying I was completely impatient and frazzled and depressed feeling most of the time. IT twas HARD work having two babies, toddlers all day long. I know you’ll find your peace and surpass your own expectations. Virtual hugs! I know it’s not easy. Don’t be too hard on yourself on your journey to “your” perfection.

  8. lalaland13 says:

    You know, my mom didn’t always have the house clean but we knew she loved us. Your kids won’t remember if the laundry was always done (if you’re like me and my brother, they’ll throw all the laundry out and make it into a hiding spot. Sorry, Mom). They’ll remember how you treated them.

    In other words, give yourself a break. Just because you’re a stay-at-home mom does not mean you have to be a 50s housewife. If you can’t stop thinking that, then get a part-time job. Seriously. It might give you a nice break (not saying you have to or you should want to). Maybe you’d guilt yourself no matter what, in which case, my advice stands to give yourself a break.

  9. I so admire your open honesty. We all do the best we can. We all go through trying, and hard times. Some days other parents are jealous of our rockstar capabilities, other days we are jealous of theirs. I just hope you know that ALL of us go through these times. A lot of Mothers (on the internet) like to portray themselves as having it completely together- from feeding their kids the appropriate organic meals and snacks to never letting them watch tv or drink juice. Its all bullshit. I never ever believe those parents.

    I’ve been in a slump lately too in certain aspects of parenting so hopefully we will both make some strides to get on track to being the Mom’s we want to be. but, it doesn’t make either of us bad Moms.

    <3

  10. Amanda says:

    Are we not supposed to be yelling? I swear that is the only way Maddie understands the words that are coming out of my mouth.

    I feel your pain though. This week has been rough here with a disabled er fractured hubby, an overwhelmed and ridiculously hormonal mommy and a preschooler in need of constant attention. We tried to make it up to Mad with a trip to the bounce house but it only gets us so far.

    I think I make the resolution to yell less and be more patient daily. Some days are better than others but I am only human and can only be so much for everyone.

    Good luck lady! You are an awesome mommy!

  11. Wanna know how I know you’re an awesome mom? Today I visited a friend and her week old baby. I took my 14 month old with me. I was holding the baby while my friend peed, leaving me alone with the two children. I had to hold/comfort the newborn AND corral my child and keep him from eat dog toys AT THE SAME TIME. I couldn’t handle it for TWO MINUTES!

    And this is what you do all day, every day. And your children love you. And you are an awesome mom. It’s OK to have a bad day, or heck, week! What you are doing is HARD! But Momma, you kick ass :)

  12. Jennie says:

    I want to give you a hug! (((HUGGS))) I think this at least once everyday. And I cry about it at least once a week.
    Take care of you– make a conscience effort, and allow the rest to fall into place.

  13. Nicole says:

    My feeling is that there’s yelling, and then there’s name-calling, belittling, hitting, etc. I swear to you that my four-year-old doesn’t get that I MEAN IT unless I’m YELLING IT. But I never, ever call him names. It’s just the same thing I was asking him to do 50 times before, but louder.

    As for the rest of it…forget about it. The baby has sucked me dry and is wailing in his crib about how unfair it all is that he has to go to bed. The four-year-old is whining about how the baby crying is keeping him awake. My husband is working, and I’m stealing–stealing!–ten minutes to have a dinner of cold cereal. I haven’t had a minute to myself all day, and I’m ready to give them both to an orphanage and run away and change my name. And I go back to work Thursday, whee! Leave It To Beaver, this is not.

  14. Kim says:

    I needed this today. This morning there was a PSA on TV about teaching your kids how to deal with stress by example, and I lost it. It really made me feel awful! Just yesterday JD cried hysterically when he saw me yelling at my hubby in a stressful moment. And today I totally ruined the moment of his first peepee on the potty by screaming at him for sticking his hands in it.
    Thank you for writing this and for letting me know I’m not alone. I’m going to follow your lead and just take it one day at a time!
    xoxo

  15. MKP says:

    I like that you’re honest with where you’re at – you and your kids are so photogenic it’d be easy to smooth things over with shiny shiny visuals.

    I read advice columns that tell parents to give themselves a time out before they yell, and other advice columns that describe an evolutionary state little boys enter in toddler hood where they just ignore their parents for a while…. since I’m not a mom to anything that can’t be trained via scoobysnax, all I can say is congrats on being brave and trying to do better.

  16. I loved this post. It was inspiring. But don’t be too hard on yourself. I feel like I have good spells and bad spells. Here’s to looking forward and getting a little better at this mom thing everyday! (instead of worse)

  17. MKP says:

    Oh, and also! I vaguely remember using a “First 6 months on a new job” analogy in a comment when you were adjusting to being with Lil E at home all day. This is your first 6 months on a new job where you have to manage TWO underlings one of whom is already mobile, unlike your last job where there was ONE underling and it came free with a 6 month mobility on-ramp. So remember to cut yourself and your kids some slack.

  18. Alison says:

    You are SO not alone! Some days I feel like the worst mother ever. Everything you talked about above, I’m guilty of it too. And I remember those early days (and months) of having two, and how very challenging, and exhausting, and stressful it is. It’s evident that you love your kids, and I’m sure that you truly are a fantastic mom. And isn’t it great to know that our little ones still think we hung the moon, even when we screw up big time.

  19. bellegourmande says:

    Thanks for posting this, it was brave of you to say it, and please do know that you are totally not alone. I’ve only got one for now, and I already feel guilty that I don’t spend enough quality time playing with him and nurturing his little mind and body. But please go easy on yourself. It’s hard to be “on” like that all day long. Being a stay at home mom is a really, really, really hard job, with very long hours. Just because you sometimes ignore your kids’ wants and needs to take care of your own does not make you anything less than an awesome mom. I could keep going, but the gist is really this–don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s really hard adjusting to having two, from what I can tell, and you’re still in the full throes of that adjustment process. So you’re a hermit for a little while, so be it. Also, it’s winter, when positivity as well as the desire to get out of the house is pretty low.

    You are doing a fantastic job, and you need to take care of you and be nicer to yourself! It can only get better. Big hugs to you.

  20. Other Erin says:

    I echo all of the comments above. You are a great mom and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. But your committment to improvement is awesome.
    Along those lines, while it’s not the same, when I was working 12-14 hour days I developed a very bad caffeine habit. I’d start the day with a Red Bull and then had 2-6 Diet Cokes throughout the day (and not always cans – the deli next door had a soda size so big, the Asian man running the place laughed at you when you ordered it. That did not stop me). On days when I was really tired, I’d do two Red Bulls and my boss used to literally tell me she couldn’t handle 2 Red Bull Erin and avoided me. Two Red Bull Erin was a complete bitch – easily frustrated, yelled a lot, jumped to conclusions, etc. When I finally decided enough was enough and cut back to 0 Red Bull and only 1-2 Diet Cokes a day (after the initial shock) I was much calmer and it was so much easier to handle life even when working a ton and going on little sleep. Plus, when I did reach for a Diet Coke, it had a much bigger impact in terms of keeping me awake.
    For me at least, things like caffeine and sugar in excess produce big highs and lows that really mess with my mental/emotional state. Just something to consider as you work toward your goal which I am super your will meet. :)

  21. andrea says:

    I’m a yeller too. It is difficult to find a balance and I, like you, have been trying to be a better parent. As in I am making a BIG effort to be the parent I want my son to have. I was sick of feeling guilty every time I yelled at Bresho so I came up with some stupid techniques that have worked so far (like leaving the room when I am about to snap and THINKING about what I am about to do or breathing deeply before I ask him one more time what he wants). I do snap sometimes, but it also feels good to have more self control. I am very very very far from being a perfect parent, but I am also moving away from the yeller I used to be. I loved reading this and your other post. Not in a “I love that you are feeling like the worst mother” kind of love, but as in I love that I can relate to another mom who I know LOVES her children and is just as imperfect as I am.
    xxo

  22. raincheckmom says:

    Let’s do the math:

    Nursing newborn + diaper wearing toddler + sleep deprivation + kidney infection + prospect of kidney treatment and recovery = yelling and Goldfish for lunch.

    Yep! Adds up!

    Now: minus the kidney infection and add some sleep…result = a more relaxed mommy which improves everything.

    You need treatment and time and things will improve.

  23. I think we all have days like this and sometimes weeks like this, and the occasional month where we look back and think “What the heck was I doing?” And we all have the little things we’re less than perfect at. Me? I am not a swatter, but I am quick to put out the Goldfish when the Babby won’t eat fruit or a sandwich or any dang thing. And I’m not much for cooking, so I’m most decidedly not whipping up gourmet toddler meals from the various cookbooks I read but never actually use. Makes me feel like crap, it does, since I know so many moms who are five star cheffing it at home with their kids. So don’t beat yourself up. Just make the changes you want to make or at least the ones you can make right now and move on :)

  24. Brigid Keely says:

    You’re going through a lot right now (two little kids, ill health, bad weather, etc) but you sound kind of like you’re at the end of your rope and that, combined with a change in habit (becoming “a recluse,” relying more on the internet support system instead of your “real world” support system) and a lack of patience, sounds like you might have some Depression creeping up on you. If you haven’t already, please consider talking with your doctor about post partum depression and some things you can do to alleviate it– PPD is really really serious, but for some people talking about it/getting more help from family/non-medication solutions are enough.

  25. Londonmum says:

    Everyone else has pretty much written everything I was thinking reading your posts. I yell at my son and immediately feel like some kind of axe murderer. I love him more than life itself but sometimes he drives me CRAZY. Two minutes after I yell at him he is running around giggling and laughing. It is so obvious from your blog how much you love your kids and how happy they seem.
    Your resolution is a good one, one of the best I’ve seen and I wish you total success. But if you have the odd moment when you yell, you spend a little too much time on the internet or you don’t feel like getting down on the floor to play, that’s ok too.

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