Yeah, that’s me saying that to myself, not my daughter saying it to me!
Sometimes I just don’t want to deal with a kid running away from a nappy change. Sometimes I just don’t want a kid hanging off my leg while I try and cook food that’ll be thrown on the floor. Sometimes I don’t want a kid screaming because I’m going to the toilet.
Sometimes I don’t want to be present for more drawing, another reading of the same boring book.
It’s so mundane and repetitive.
The day to day of parenting can be really tough. And not a tough we’re used to. Intellectual, creative, and practical problems can seem to have more purpose. Once solved they go away. There is a finish. It’s difficult to see purpose or an end to wiping snotty noses.
And all this repetitive mundanity makes me feel stuck. And when stuck I feel frustrated. When frustrated I get impatient. When impatient I get snappy and intolerant and want to push away. I put up with less and snap at more.
She feels it of course and then does more of those things which get to me.
These are the moments I think I need to get away for a day. Or go back to paid work. Or, or, or…what other kinds of escape or reprieve are there?
That is the question. What types of reprieve are there? Is a break the only answer? How do I turn it around when frustrated?
Today it was writing this, a good dose of loud silliness during a car ride, a fun swim lesson, talking to a friend who feels the same, my girl cuddling into me, strong coffee, and realising I can let go.
A criticism of RIE
RIE emphasises communicating verbally with children rather than picking them up or some other kind of touch. For example, when your kid falls and is crying don’t scoop them up and make a fuss, but instead stay calm, state what’s happened, and check what they want and need next. I’m good with all of that except the part about not picking them up.
This approach loses the communication of touch. When we put our hand on our kid who has just fallen we communicate our presence. We are present with our whole being, not just intellectually.
Remember when you could call in sick then stay in your pajamas all day, eat cereal for lunch, and just sleep or watch a movie?
Five days of being completely smashed with a flu, but needing to look after an active toddler who isn’t going to eat cereal for lunch and investigates their poopy nappy.
Yet somehow this was a really peaceful parenting week. Hardly any power struggles, no meltdowns, and minimal frustration (mine). Not what I’d expect. So what happened there?
I cancelled all activities so we had no where to be on time. No rushing. No trying to convince a kid to get in the car rather than play in the dirt beside it. No trying to put on makeup while she pulls at my leg wanting some too.
I let go of the urge to go out everyday and see people. One day I thought I should take her to the playground to burn off some energy. We got to the car and she decided she just wanted to play in it. So I sat in the passenger seat. Then after about 45 minutes she wanted to go into the backyard. So I sat there. Then she decided to go inside and play there. So I sat there. Well that went well!
I set some firm limits around what I could handle. Not having the energy to do some things (eg. take her out for a scooter ride) meant the limits I set had a finality behind them. It makes me realise that sometimes when I say “no” there is a part of me wondering if I should say “yes”. She must sense this as she seemed to accept no more than usual.
But also, I didn’t have the energy to get flustered. When she was upset I was unusually calm. As I felt so still inside, when she started protesting I just sat on the floor with her and touched her gently, calmly asked her what was happening for her. I was able to be more present.
It really highlighted a discovery one of my fabulous friends and I have made; kid meltdowns or adult frustration only happen when we have an agenda other than parenting. If we put something other than them first in that moment when they need us, then it will probably end in tears.
* This is not to say we shouldn’t put other things first sometimes, but that’s a post for another day…
She throws a spoon to the floor. Points at it and says to me, “pick it up! ”
We’re definitely having an off track day.
I keep waiting for her to ease up a bit with the challenging behaviour so I can let go of this on edge, low level cranky feeling. The feeling that has me subtlety pushing away. The feeling that has me swearing frequently in my mind. The feeling that she picks up on and that drives her to keep on misbehaving.
So we’re in a cycle. I want her to behave for a bit so I can get back to feeling more connected with her. She wants me to connect with her so she can stop acting out.
She stands on my feet. I hate having my feet stood on. It feels so disrespectful.
Some days I’ll find something frustrating then get over it quickly and that’s it for the day. Other days seem like a string of frustrations building upon each other.
Today’s solution was for me to have some space and do something other than parenting.
Enough space for me to have a think and realise the only solution is for me to be the adult here. Sigh.
That it’s up to me to set the emotional tone. That I need to shift my thoughts and feelings back to something more helpful and connected.
Time to get up mummy…right after I have a little sook to myself about how hard this adult and parenting thing is…
Sometimes it’s the little things that unhinge me. Like why can’t she just put her clothes on in the morning rather than deciding she’ll freeze?
Getting ready used to be a fairly straightforward activity that could mostly be done in a sleepy stupor. But now I need my wits and patience, and all those impossible things at 5.30 am, give or take an hour.
As soon as I try to hurry things along I’m done for. As soon as I try and ‘do to’ her, like expecting to just dress her, without actively engaging her in the process, my plans are foiled. Foiled by a toddler with her own views and a strong wish to be treated with respect. Fair enough, but sometimes really inconvenient and frustrating. Well, inconvenient and frustrating if I forget she has a right to an opinion and a will of her own. Yeah, those things I’m hoping to instill in her. Looks like I don’t need to instill them, just not squash them.
So in that moment of her deciding that now her pants are off for a nappy change she might just keep them off, I realise I can’t just control things, I can’t just push through. Hence the frustration. Remember when you had so much control of your morning that the greatest challenge was getting the shower temperature just right?
Control… I have very limited control of her. She has very little control of her life. It would be easier if she was compliant but I hope my girl is assertive as an adult and that takes practice, starting now.
And her pants? “Oh, are you not wanting to wear your pants right now? It’s really cold this morning so I think you’re going to be more comfortable wearing something. Shall I wait? Ok are you ready now? Ok great, let’s get you snuggly warm.”
That wasn’t so hard…for me I mean…