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I suck

I just had a revelation. And it wasn't one of those "oh my God my life is going to be better because I've figured out X" revelations. It was more like a "I'm a crap parent" revelation. I don't normally have these. I'm pretty confident in my parenting, and I usually let my shortcomings (which everyone has- no one is perfect) slide. If they bother me, I try to change them. That's it. Stuff doesn't usually bug me long (stuff in my control anyway, like my parenting). But this is really getting to me.

Let me explain.

We've been struggling with Izzy's behavior lately. I haven't struggled much with Izzy since she got over colic at 4 months. We've had our moments (she had some "toddler colic" between her first and second birthdays, when she cried for no reason from the time she woke up from her nap until around dinner time unless I was a holding her, and while I tried my best to hold her as much as I could, it was still a struggle for both of us), but for the most part she's been an agreeable child her entire life. But lately it seems like she's suddenly developed an anger problem and a teenage-like attitude, all at the same time. When I ask her to do something at the best she ignores me, at the worst she screams at me. Neither of these behaviors bring out the best parenting in me, and then it goes downhill from there... perhaps this is simply a preview of her teen years so that I can be more prepared when they roll around. But I was just reading and thinking about my roles and responsibilities to my family- to meet their physical and emotional needs, and it hit me.

I'm not meeting her emotional needs.

I'm not doing it intentionally. I have always tried to be sympathetic to my children's feelings, to validate how they feel, and to sooth them when they're upset. But now that I'm over the difficulty of the baby stage with Oliver (what can I say- it takes me a while), settled in after our move, and am generally feeling more together I realize that I have taken advantage of her independence. She doesn't need much from me anymore (yesterday she cut her own apple with the apple cutter...). And you ever hear the bit about the squeaky wheel? In our house, Oliver is the squeaky wheel. When he is not crawling all over my lap or begging to be held or asking me to do something (that he is perfectly capable of doing himself) for him, he's destroying something or jumping off of something or running into something. In short, he requires a lot of attention. Izzy does not. So I put myself in her place; I can imagine that it has been a gradual build up of frustration. And I can imagine this because Izzy IS me. Neither of us are very talented at vocalizing our emotional needs. That means that as her mother and as the one person who can most completely empathize with her, I need to put a more concerted effort into meeting her emotional needs BEFORE she is so frustrated she acts out.

And of course we all know this means an action plan:)

1) Today we are going out, just the two of us. And while we have one boring errand to run, the rest of the time we are going to shop and talk and hang out. We're going antique shopping- something we both enjoy. She loves looking at all the funny random stuff, as I do. I'm going to make this outing a weekly or bi-weekly thing.

2) Every day at nap time (she no longer naps most days, although I have her lay down until Oliver goes to sleep because I think the quiet down time is important for her), after she gets up, I am going to spend the first 30 minutes doing something with her, like playing a game or doing a puzzle or just talking. Most of the time I take advantage of this time to get things done that are difficult to accomplish with Oliver around or to blog. I think neglecting her this one on one time when Oliver is not around to distract me is one of the biggest injustices I have committed towards her.

3) I am going to put every ounce of effort I have into keeping my temper with her. I've been loosing it far too often lately when she ignores or talks back to me. I need to remember that she isn't going to learn to manage her own temper until I can show her that I can keep mine.

So what am I doing sitting here blogging? I need to go spend time with my girl!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

1 comment:

Nadia said...

wow - you either read my mind or you are really ME in another dimension... lol

Seriously though... I swear I was trying to figure out how to put into words how crappy I feel I've been towards my toddler. Having a baby come into our lives when the toddler was just 2.5 was hard on me, but surely so much harder on him. I suddenly stopped having a lot of one-on-one time with my son because there was always this baby around (actually, attached to me).

I realize there's so much bonding time we've missed out on that I really shouldn't complain when the toddler ignores me or is somewhat rude.

In truth, he's still awesome... luckily, he has a great spirit. So, now that I know where I went wrong, I'm off to pickup where I left off a year ago... I have a lot of catching up to do. We really need to reconnect.

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