My Challenge, My Love - Page 23 - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-27-2006, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Justine-Thank you. I really do love that quote. And like Michele said previously, I just have to get the hang of "hanging in" when the times are dark and scary. It takes me a looooong time to have some perspective on anything in my life, and I'm hoping I learn this sooner rather than later when dealing with Bears issues.

And Emblm- Thank you soooo much for posting this. It brought tears to my eyes. Parenting is so darn hard, even in "good" phases, with less challenging kids, patience is tested, love is tested. But with these special kids, man, he teaches me every day. In more ways, I'm sure than I teach him. Thank you, thank you.
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Old 06-27-2006, 02:54 PM
 
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Hi all. Back from vacation, which was lovely despite some very frustrating moments.

Bearsmama, I'm hoping Bears is still coming out of that bad phase and entering a good one.

Maureen, I just cannot tell you how helpful your last post was.

Emblm, what a great poem! That totally captures what parenting my challenging kiddo is like.

YK, dh and I are feeling very burnt-out. This makes parenting our challenging one even harder. It makes being the kind of parents we want to be even harder. Every now and then we go through this burn-out. Which is different, somehow, from the "normal" challenges we face. We're really lacking patience and coping skills right now. And while usually we're a team such that when one of us gets frustrated and isn't coping well the other can step in to take over and make up for that, right now neither of us has the reserves to do that. So it's really kind of uber-bad here at times. When it's good, it's great. When it starts to go bad, it gets really bad in a hurry. So it isn't just our challenging kiddo who cycles, it's us too-from burn-out slowly to recovery and "even better" parenting and slowly back again. I think this burn-out is a big neon signal telling us that we haven't been taking care of ourselves enough. We ignore the little signs until the big one comes along. I'm learning that a huge key to surviving parenting (with all kids, but especially with challenging kids) is taking good care of ourselves.

So I hope you're all well. I'm off to start some laundry and rest a bit before I take the kids back outside to play.
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Old 06-28-2006, 12:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Welcome Home, sledg!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sledg
YK, dh and I are feeling very burnt-out. This makes parenting our challenging one even harder. It makes being the kind of parents we want to be even harder. Every now and then we go through this burn-out. Which is different, somehow, from the "normal" challenges we face. We're really lacking patience and coping skills right now. And while usually we're a team such that when one of us gets frustrated and isn't coping well the other can step in to take over and make up for that, right now neither of us has the reserves to do that. So it's really kind of uber-bad here at times. When it's good, it's great. When it starts to go bad, it gets really bad in a hurry. So it isn't just our challenging kiddo who cycles, it's us too-from burn-out slowly to recovery and "even better" parenting and slowly back again. I think this burn-out is a big neon signal telling us that we haven't been taking care of ourselves enough. We ignore the little signs until the big one comes along. I'm learning that a huge key to surviving parenting (with all kids, but especially with challenging kids) is taking good care of ourselves.
Man, I'm sitting here nodding away, YES, YES, YES, at your words. No one ever told me pre-kids that to actually parent the way I *intended* I would need to have the time to take care of myself. And that there is NO TIME to take care of yourself when parenting-especially parenting a high-needs baby, who turns into a spirited toddler, who turns into a challenging child. When do we all have the chance to catch our breath? The burn out with us, sledg, is just HUGE. And sometimes we don't even know what we need to get re-charged. It's like we've forgotten what it is that truly rejuvenates us as a couple, and as individuals, b/c we're so darn exhausted all the time. And as you all know, it's not just physical exhaustion that needs to be addressed here, it's the mental, spiritual, bone-level exhaustion, too.

DH and I have been talking recently and wondering how our parenting choices have affected our burn-out, tiredness, lack of patience, etc. For instance, I've breast-fed both kids way beyond infancy (Bears weaned @ 2 years, 8 months, and I'm still nursing my 22 mo). Now, this is certainly not a long time compared to many here, I know. But it is way beyond the norm of most of my acquaintances and friends. Extended breastfeeding changes the dynamic in a family, IMHO. It just does. There's a level of connection that is so deep, and with it comes a layer of frustration that I don't think is present in the same way in all mother-child relationships. There's a personal limit/space issue that comes up (access to mommy's body), etc., that's just not there in every other mom-kid dynamic. I guess my point is that the way we have chosen to parent has affected the intensity level in our home. Ditto the co-sleeping. Which I can't even comment on right now b/c there's just too much to say. I hope you all know what I'm trying to say here.

The ultimate craziness is that despite all the chaos and tears and happiness and joy, despite ALL of it, my kids are growing up and so are yours! They are growing up and away from us every day.

More Deep Thoughts with Jack Handy to come...
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Old 06-28-2006, 12:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ooooh, and I didn't even comment on all the other good points and thoughts in your post, sledg. About heeding the small warnings before you need teh S.O.S.! How we cycle as parents, too, not just our CKs (Challenging Kids).

More, more, more...
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Old 06-28-2006, 02:57 AM
 
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Okay, I've stayed away fromt his thread for a long time because I keep hoping my ds will miraculously outgrow being a CK. Guess what? Not so much. *sigh*
Odd that I am signing on now (Bearsmama's kind post in my TAO thread prompted me to find this thread) as we are just leaving for a 2 week trip to visit my parents and I won't be around much. At least I'll be subscribed and can join in when we return.
As frustrating, demoralizing, and flat out exhausting as our days can be, I am gladto be my ds's mama because he has led me to stretch and grow in ways I would not have if he were an easy child to parent.
He is 5 1/2 years old, very smart and articulate, yet slow to take physical risks (riding a bike, swimming) and hates being told what to do : yet really needs clear boundaries. Arrrrgghhh!
We also moved twice, had a daughter (now 23 months and still nursing, Bears!), gone through my dh being bedridden and angry due to severe sciatic pain, had my sister move in and out, all since he was 3 1/2. I think all of this plays a part in all of his challenging behaviors, since transitions are hard and he's had more than he can handle.
Can't wait to learn from the wise and courageous mamas here.
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Old 06-28-2006, 03:20 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearsmama
No one ever told me pre-kids that to actually parent the way I *intended* I would need to have the time to take care of myself. And that there is NO TIME to take care of yourself when parenting-especially parenting a high-needs baby, who turns into a spirited toddler, who turns into a challenging child. When do we all have the chance to catch our breath?
No kidding! There is no time. Not enough, anyway. I think part of the problem is that in our modern society two lone people take on the huge responsibility that is family life (providing, parenting, surviving) that at some point in the past was shared amongst a tribe or extended family that lived together. So while we humans haven't changed in terms of what we and our young need, the way we live has. And while that isn't completely bad, it isn't all that healthy either. We're doing too much, with too little support/help.

So the trick is, I guess, to figure out a way to care for ourselves given the circumstances. But sometimes it seems impossible. For instance, I know I really need exercise-more than I get out walking with kids in tow, can't go fast enough that way (though, honestly I'm so desperately in need of exercise that if we're going even slightly uphill I can get winded at a slow pace). But when am I going to fit in exercise sans kids? I might (might) be able to drag myself out of bed an hour earlier, but then the two year old (who by that time of morning is usually back in our bed) will wake screaming b/c I'm getting up making it very hard to leave or screaming b/c I'm already gone (and that could continue until I return, making for a very cranky daddy). I have no sitters at my disposal for a regular daytime exercise, and even if I could join the local Y none of my kids (NONE) would be willing to go into the childcare room for a half hour or hour while I exercise. Nighttime is out partly b/c dh gets home so late, partly b/c the kids still won't go to sleep without me to cuddle (so I can't leave before they're settled in for sleep, which is too late for exercise IMO), and partly b/c I'm so exhausted by the time dinner rolls around. Exercise videos during the day inside the house? Maybe.

Lost my train of thought here. What I just said is related to what you said about parenting choices/style affecting the intensity level but I can't quite articulate how at this moment. So I'll just continue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearsmama
I guess my point is that the way we have chosen to parent has affected the intensity level in our home. Ditto the co-sleeping. Which I can't even comment on right now b/c there's just too much to say. I hope you all know what I'm trying to say here.
I think IKWYM. For instance, cosleeping: well, I realized last night after being woken for the third time by a child who was scared and wanted to come in my now very small bed that I haven't slept more than about 3 hours at a stretch in nearly 7 years. I realize that some people get so much sleep sharing a bed, but I never have. I couldn't sleep through the nighttime nursing. I couldn't sleep through being crowded to the point of being in pain, or the kid who yells and kicks in her sleep. And then there were the times I woke to a baby semi-choking on spit-up, or a baby about to fall out of bed, or a child's foot creeping into where no child's foot belongs. I also agree with what you said about the level of connection being so deep as to produce a frustration (and despair at times) that is just...more. And the physical space issues....between the nursing and the cosleeping and the just sheer amount of physical contact and availability, it just gets really frustrating to almost feel like my body isn't really mine. Everyone wants it, everyone needs something from my body, everyone needs to be touching it all the time. It gets to the point where I feel this way even about dh, not just the kids. I don't get my body to myself enough. Sometimes I just want some space, to not be touched. Now don't get me wrong, I loved nursing. I loved cosleeping. I still love cuddling with my kids once they've come into our room in the night. I love, love, love being a mother to my kids. I love, love, love that my challenging child is my child. I wouldn't trade her for anything. It's just so exhausting. It's exhausting in a way that I never in a million years would have expected it to be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearsmama
The ultimate craziness is that despite all the chaos and tears and happiness and joy, despite ALL of it, my kids are growing up and so are yours! They are growing up and away from us every day.
And they're growing up beautifully despite the challenges they face within themselves and from us and from the world. They keep becoming more beautiful and healthy and loving and intelligent and articulate.

So we had some slightly bad news while we were away, and that was that the neurologist cancelled the appointment we were supposed to have today b/c he wouldn't be in the office today. So we rescheduled for September (apparently dd's symptoms are not urgent enough to warrant rushing us in even though they were the ones to cancel). It's annoying, but really it's not so urgent that we get there right now much as I might be really itching for it. We've waited this long, a few more weeks isn't a big deal. I will be seriously angry if they cancel again, though.

dalai mama, it sure sounds like your family has been through so much. I have said for a long time now, as you said, that if it weren't for my challenging daughter I wouldn't have grown as much as I have. If all my kids were as easy as my other two have so far been, I don't think I'd have grown nearly so much. Parenting my challenging daughter has led me to question and examine literally everything in my life. It has been, and will undoubtedly continue to be, and amazing journey. I hope you have a great trip.
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Old 06-28-2006, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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dalai-Many and a huge welcome to this wonderful thread. And I'm not just saying that b/c I started the darn thing! I have more to say, but not much time. I think you know your kid when you see him/her-- and if you are HERE, in this spot, I think it's for a good reason. Come on in, the water's just fine... and better with others sharing it with you.

Sledg-As always, much to say. Just wanted to give you a quick . That's such a disappointment that the long-awaited appointment has been cancelled. More when I can...
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Old 06-29-2006, 10:57 AM
 
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Thank you Bearsmama. It really was such a disappointment. I cried. Then I felt like an idiot for crying. Ah, well. I've let it go now. Though the huge disappointment I felt made me realize a lot about how burned-out I've been feeling, and about something else I can't actually put into words (so much about life with my CK can't be put into words). In a way it was a blessing, a wake-up call of sorts.

Gotta run.
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Old 06-30-2006, 10:17 AM
 
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Whoa!!! I could have written your early posts Bearsmama a few years back. We are out of the woods with the horribly all-day-long defiant-behavior-while-caring-for-a-baby situation but of course the defiance remains. DSs are now almost 5.5 and 3.5. I hardly ever lose my temper right now--partly kids changing, partly me changing. But I remember how horrible that whole long time was at moments (like, several moments of each day)--shame, guilt, remorse....ugh. The endless parenting pow-wows. Yes!

When I started to realize that a big part of losing my temper with my older child was anger at MY older brother, feelings that had been hanging around since childhood, that was as real eye-opener. When my older son would start taking his frustrations out on the younger, I felt enormously triggered. Whoa. Like I always say: if you don't want to meet your dark side, don't get married, and _definitely_ don't have kids!

I really appreciate what I've read so far. I'll look forward to catching up on all the posts in the next 10 years or so Nice to see we're not alone out here being all isolated and feeling like we're the only ones going through this sort of horrible parenting miasma (with, of course the most beautiful, incredible, maddening little people in the world).

(small disclaimer: my memory is SO bad, it's entirely possible that I've been overjoyed about finding this thread once before.)
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Old 06-30-2006, 04:46 PM
 
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Welcome, dalai_mama & Fiddlemom!

Y'know, I've been in the house so much this summer that I decided last week that I didn't care anymore what happened while we were out, or on the way out, screw it-I was going! And we've had fights, meltdowns, people staring, odd situations, and lots of laughs this past week. And sledg-to talk about exercise, I've managed three actual days of jogging ... with all four kids!!! We've found two fabulous locations where I can jog ... one in the county next door to us where they have a track around their soccer field so the kids can play ball while I run with the little one in the jogging stroller or in our town, our walking track has a playground near a portion of it that the kids can use and I just run back and forth on the part of the track that is in view. Cole has even been running with me two of those days and it does wonders for getting out some energy. We've also found a nature trail at one of the parks to use (talk about a work out). So I've done really well at getting the exercise thrown in to my days lately. I think we all feel better for it.

But beyond that, we're just surviving! Dreading first grade coming up and all the changes that will come with it... new class, new friends, new teacher, same old BS. LOL!

Hope everyone is well ...
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Old 06-30-2006, 10:11 PM
 
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Jennifer, that's awesome that you've found a way to exercise with all the kids. I am not dreading first grade yet. I will dread it, but not now. I will dread it b/c of the havoc it will wreak on our home life, and b/c I will miss my sweet dd. Of course, half the time she's right here with me I'm missing her b/c of her behavior and my lack of ability to connect with her when she's in that state. So right now I'm dreading tomorrow morning. Today was difficult. Not terrible, but difficult. Maybe tomorrow will be better. I was informed that I have not been spending enough time with her. Really, it's that I haven't been doing the right kinds of things with her, even though she's been choosing to do all these other things. *sigh* I'll never get it right.
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Old 07-01-2006, 12:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Grrrrrrrr....: I just wrote this huge post, welcoming Fiddle, commiserating with Emblm about exercise, and giving sledg major hugs and it got lost somewhere, out here in Mothering land...anyway, too tired to re-post. Know that you all have me thinking again tonight.
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Old 07-01-2006, 01:29 AM
 
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We're at my parents' house for the next week and a half and the behaviors are no less challenging from my ds. Last year when we were here, he was easy. People even commented on how sweet my children were. I was hoping the same for this year, but I guess not.
So far, my ds has had his usual, "I'm not going to leave the house tantrums", which occur no matter where we are going (grocery, pool, zoo, the library, a place he was begging to go hours earlier, you name it. . .), and got mad at Grandpa b/c Grandpa didn't put his shoes on (not that my ds isn't perfectly capable of putting his own shoes on, he just didn't want to) in the car on the way into a restaurant, so he took a pen and ruined about 8 styrofoam cups my mom had in the back of her car left over from summer camp, making a huge mess, AND, AND, AND, *he drew on the inside of the car* :
emblemrgrl and sledg, I am disheartned to hear that you are dreading school. Ds begins K this fall and we are so hopeful that it will help things. He does so well with predictable structure, which doesn't happen at home b/c dh of dh's unpredictable work hours. Our school is Waldorf, so they are nothing if not routine and he will still be going to his preschool 3 days per week in the afternoons while I am teaching. (I am changing schools and will be job sharing an upper grade position at his school.) So, yes, we have still more transitions and changes to come, but hopefully once the dust settles alll will be groovy.
Thanks for the warm welcomes. It helps to have a community like this.
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Old 07-01-2006, 01:29 AM
 
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We're at my parents' house for the next week and a half and the behaviors are no less challenging from my ds. Last year when we were here, he was easy. People even commented on how sweet my children were. I was hoping the same for this year, but I guess not.
So far, my ds has had his usual, "I'm not going to leave the house tantrums", which occur no matter where we are going (grocery, pool, zoo, the library, a place he was begging to go hours earlier, you name it. . .), and got mad at Grandpa b/c Grandpa didn't put his shoes on (not that my ds isn't perfectly capable of putting his own shoes on, he just didn't want to) in the car on the way into a restaurant, so he took a pen and ruined about 8 styrofoam cups my mom had in the back of her car left over from summer camp, making a huge mess, AND, AND, AND, *he drew on the inside of the car* :
emblemrgrl and sledg, I am disheartned to hear that you are dreading school. Ds begins K this fall and we are so hopeful that it will help things. He does so well with predictable structure, which doesn't happen at home b/c dh of dh's unpredictable work hours. Our school is Waldorf, so they are nothing if not routine and he will still be going to his preschool 3 days per week in the afternoons while I am teaching. (I am changing schools and will be job sharing an upper grade position at his school.) So, yes, we have still more transitions and changes to come, but hopefully once the dust settles alll will be groovy.
Thanks for the warm welcomes. It helps to have a community like this.
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Old 07-01-2006, 10:46 AM
 
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Bearsmama, thanks for the hugs.

dalai mama, I'm sorry to hear your trip is not going as well as you'd hoped. I am also sorry to have left you feeling disheartened because some of us are dreading school. It would have been more accurate to explain that I dread some things about school, but that my dd also loves school and thrives at school (apart from a few challenges related to separation in the beginning and after the holiday vacation that she seems to have gotten past rather well). She exhibits NONE of her challenging behaviors at school. The structure of getting up at the same time every day, and knowing she's going to dress, then eat, then go to school, then have the routine of school does mean our mornings flow more smoothly. Her decompression after school is difficult. Everything she holds in all day at school comes out as soon as she's home, and it's hard on everyone. And while I'm hoping her separation difficulties aren't as bad this coming year, she did have some very difficult periods of time wrt separation from me-two months after school started her first difficult period began, and then again after the holiday vacation it was difficult for awhile, and then during the last few weeks of school there were some rough days. I do have to say that as much as I miss dd while she's at school, it's also really good in a way to have a daily break from the intensity of parenting her. And it's good to see her so successful (not just academically, but socially and emotionally and behaviorally) in that environment, and it's good for her to feel so good about herself and her accomplishments. Though I have to say also that I am concerned that she's sort of only coping on the surface at school, holding herself together by sheer will and stuffing any frustration-and maybe that's why she has to fall apart the moment she gets home. School is a double-edged sword for us. But so far the good seems to outweigh the bad.

Have I told you all she's reading fluently? It's so cool. She loves to read everything-labels, books, signs. She's constantly reading to me. And it just thrills her! She can't get enough. And she's constantly writing too, mostly stories.

It continues to get weirder that this child who can do math, who reads so well, who is so creative, who can remember the strangest things from long ago, who is so articulate and has such a great vocabulary still so often can barely express her feelings (or anything) in words when upset and still so often resorts to the shrieking and wailing and throwing and hitting (less often hitting now, but any hitting is too much). The older she gets, the odder it seems. But I do have to admit that overall (when you look at the really big picture) she seems to be slowly improving in that area.

So now that my morning coffee time (yes, I do tell my kids I have to drink the nectar of life before I play b/c I really need it to function) is over it's time to read to my kids. They have been dying to read (though they're the ones choosing to play outside in the kiddie pool all day) so we're going to finish the Magic Tree House book we started yesterday. Do you read these? I love these books, and so do my kids (well, the littlest one loses interest quickly).

Have a great day! Later my kids all go to grandma's for several hours. I think I'll do my errand (which is a fun one) then clean up, get a little exercise and read.
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Old 07-01-2006, 01:38 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sledg
Of course, half the time she's right here with me I'm missing her b/c of her behavior and my lack of ability to connect with her when she's in that state.
Oh, don't I know that feeling!


Clarifying my dread of school ... school is hard for us, he & I, but in different ways. Cole is a handful even at school b/c he cannot conform easily to the expectations. He has trouble sitting still and quietly while waiting on others to finish their work. He loves being there, he is quite smart and is ahead of most of his class. He earned the exceptional reader award for the year in his K class. So academically he needs more challanges which I think contributes to his cycle of boredom/acting out/consequence. But I have gotten no where with his teachers & principal past "he needs to learn to behave." He himself is looking quite forward to going to first grade and seeing his friends again. Although I do worry that some of the other kids are put off by him and his energy level ... of course it could be that we don't attend the correct church (read:none) in our town, too. So we miss lots of activities that the other kids bond over.

My issues though revolve around watching him struggle with his behavior for his teachers. Seeing the disappointment in his face when he just couldn't get it right. Knowing that we're about to embark on another long year, a new teacher that may not understand him OR me and my ways ... classmates that may still be put off by him & his energy. Will this year be the one that helps or hurts him?? It's all such a guessing game at this point and with only about 4 weeks before it's here, the dread has arrived. How big of a fight is it gonna be when I tell the teacher I don't want his recess taken away for acting up?? Which is actually something I'd like to get opinions on from you all ... what do you feel about that practice? It's a tough one for me because although I know teachers need to feel they have some leverage, for a kid like Cole taking that recess away for something not recess related is just making matters worse, IMO. I dunno ... lots of things going on in my head with regards to this subject.
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Old 07-01-2006, 08:48 PM
 
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You may see your child in this: http://www.raisingsmallsouls.com/wp-...9/aschool.html

I found this poignant and insightful.

Pat

I have a blog.
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Old 07-01-2006, 09:17 PM
 
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Aww, Pat. Now I'm crying here. :

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Old 07-03-2006, 07:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scubamama
You may see your child in this: http://www.raisingsmallsouls.com/wp-...9/aschool.html

I found this poignant and insightful.

Pat
Wow, this is great and right to the point. (thanks for the welcomes....still have about 44 pp of reading on here to catch up on!)
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Old 07-03-2006, 11:19 PM
 
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Hi all.

I'm mostly a lurker that drops by every once in awhile. Reading this thread always helps me. But today I have to talk. I need someone to listen.

Today was terrible. I'm feeling sick to my stomach at what I did and I don't expect anyone to cut me any slack but I hope not to get hanged either.

The circumstances don't matter.

I grabbed ds (age 4) by his hair today. Basically used his hair to pull him toward me.



I'm beating myself up inside right now, and I'm blubbering all over these computer keys, and I don't see the need to spew any more of it onto this page. I know it was wrong. No matter what he did (and it was one freaking exhausting day), I should not have done that. His long beautiful blonde hair that he loves so much and that I love so much. It happened in a split second and as soon as I did it I had this flood of memories come back to me at a time my dad grabbed me around the neck when I was a kid. It still sits with me today. He did it ONCE. Now, I don't hold any grudges for it, I was about 10 and I know I really peeved him off. But I have never forgotten it. It really frightened me. My DS is younger. And all I think of is that I am suppose to be his Ultimate Safe Place.

I don't want to sit in a state of self-depracation (though I do it SO well!) and pity. But this can never happen again. Every day, though, I find myself getting more and more angry, more and more desperate to control. I've become a yeller. I am being the parent I DO NOT WANT TO BE. DH and I find ourselves being these Authority Figures and threatening all the time. Its so chaotic here. And I am planning on Waldorf homeschooling. Uh, not lookin' Waldorf in this home right now.

I read the books. I know how I am suppose to respond. But then at the moment-of-truth, splat. I fail. Ok, that is enough - I am not going down that pity party road again.

Well, I'm typing this because I just had to get it out. I am going to post and then peruse this thread for continued inspiration. :
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Old 07-03-2006, 11:36 PM
 
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Oh darling... please forgive and try like all of us to do better tomorrow. All children push our buttons, and all of us have less than our best days. The larger fabric of our relationship with our children is not ruined by one errant thread.

I hit mine today... really the first time. Joey is 4. I was driving 6 hours home from my mom's alone with three kids and the fighting just got to me. I smacked his hand. And boy was he shocked.

That isn't that weird... I lose it every once and a while... although I am a zen mamma saint in my 40's compared to my early mom years.

The part that I am struggling with is that I just had rough email bash-out with a "natural mothering" group that seems to strongly support spanking and boy did I puff myself up about my gentle, peaceful, nonviolent parenting.

Is it better that I swear I never hit, when in fact occasionally I do or is it better to say I think it is ok to use violence rarely as circumstances dictate? Would it be more honest to say that I believe that an occasional smack is good parenting? I mean I kind of told Joey it was both of our fault... of course I know how stupid I say saying I hit you because you aren't supposed to hit Zach.

All I can say is that my mother hardly ever hit me and supports my not spanking but she also did get me to see that I set the bar awfully low with them... one might even say permissive. Perhaps this is due to my awful history with Nate or my own "Oh, she's such a good girl" sh*t.

Boy am I rabling.

Welcome lurkers and new mommas. This thread is a Godsend and some of the best parenting advice on the planet... Welcome all.

Maureen

Maureen
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Old 07-04-2006, 12:28 AM
 
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Ok, I am missing the search feature because Sledg has an appropriate thread about "Yelling" in the GD forum which discusses Self-care as the precursor (and prerequisite) to being a calm and centered mama. It seems so obvious, but so difficult. As a mama on another list I'm on posted, we need to analyze the *patterns* of losing it to see what were our underlying needs and how can we meet those proactively? To keep doing the same action (self-neglect) and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity, they say.

Not to say that having ONE child doesn't put me on the border of insanity regularly. : But, recognizing my hot buttons and working to address those from a position of awareness and choice of alternative reactions is key for me. It helps me to have practiced reactions so that my initial re-action is to stop myself to consider 'what was I going to do?' instead of automatically acting on the habituated voice in my head (my mother's "Listen to me young lady, I am talking to you! Didn't you hear me?! I TOLD you to do blah, blah, blah.) By practicing 'I want to help, what do you need? I need xyz. How can we work this out?' type interactions these alternative *relational* interactions become closer to the surface, even when I am this close to YELLING!

My practice does NOT make perfect however. And I, too, am humbled by reality as fast as I post about 'what to do instead', lol. <sigh> (holding my breath and knocking on wood!)

I try to remember that "Children teach us what we most need to learn". Our son is my own Zen master. He continues to show me exactly what I need to learn. Daily, sometimes hourly, he provokes me to practice!!

Pat

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Old 07-04-2006, 01:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Mommy&Will-Mama, just many, many to you tonight. Just keep reading here, keep checking in, you will realize you are not alone. And you will get inspired & comforted by the mama wisdom here. I'm happy you found this spot.

I have this magnet on my fridge that says: Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow".

Maureen- to you tonight. I'm sorry you had such a hard time today. I really like this: The larger fabric of our relationship with our children is not ruined by one errant thread.

Humility, non-judgment, etc., these seem to be the big lessons that I keep learning over and over and over again. I guess I must need to learn these BIGTIME. And I think I need to apply these lessons to my biggest kid: ME!

You know, I feel very strongly about a few things still-I am a strong breastfeeding advocate, for one. But literally short of abuse, I really have mostly compassion for every mama and dad. Every single one of us.

And scuba-Another great post. Self-care is key, I think. But like you elaborate on, sometimes, our reactions seem to come out of nowhere. Even a well-rested, well-intentioned mama can lash out and not know where in the heck it's coming from. I am realizing that maximizing the good times, doing what I do well more and more and more, really helps, if that makes any sense. Maximizing the good and fun, minimizing the anger/not-so-great moments. That's all I can do, really. Being aware of it is key. Which really does help lesson some of the crazy moments, at least sometimes.

Man, I just keep going back to what Maureen said at the top of her post about the fabric of our relationship with our kids. That has helped me tremendously tonight. And I'm hoping it's helping all of you tonight, too.
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Old 07-04-2006, 05:11 AM
 
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Hi all,
About 6 months ago I was lurking here, in tears, of course, over the vast difficulty involved in raising my little guy. I read a blurb written by you, Bearsmama, about how our children are sent to us to teach us a particular life lesson, and our job was to be open to receiving and learning it. Around that same time, I read Alfie Kohn's "Unconditional Parenting", and re-read "Hold on To Your Kids" by Gordon Neufeld.

The lesson I've learned (well, one of them) is that parenting challenging children isn't about the minute-by-minute strategies for discipline, but rather, seeing the big picture, and how our attitudes about our children and our own childhoods come into play in creating this disfunction. I'm certainly not claiming to know whether or not any of the children described here have "actual mental health issues" but as a mother who has asked for referrals for professional help on more than one occasion, I know the fear, and the feeling of *knowing* that something isn't right. Sometimes, though, I think it seems easier to accept a diagnosis and then manage a condition, than to just recognize where we have failed as parents. I see so many people get down on themselves, blame themselves for their kid's challenges, and I don't think that's helpful. BUT! For us, recognizing how we had been screwing up (or, more accurately, not parenting our extremely emotionally sensitive kid in a way that was good for him) was the first step in solving the problem.

After reading Unconditional Parenting, I cried and cried, raged (silently, of course) at my parents for parenting me the way they did, forgave them, and forgave myself. Then I totally changed my attitude about trying to control my kids, and immersed myself fully in HELPING them get through life, minute by minute. This was best acheived by not worrying AT ALL about mental health issues -- I decided that my maddeningly quirky 4 year old just needed to know that I was on his side, and I hadn't conveyed that to him well enough. We've never done punishments at all, but he HATES feeling like anyone is at all disappointed in him, and often the tactic is to push the envelope further to convince himself that he had done it intentionally and seal the deal, so to speak. He also had all kinds of rituals we had to go through every single day, and the more we tried to control them, the more embedded they became. It was hard to know when to just go along with something and when we were reinforcing his belief that a particular ritual was necessary. He'd lose it over a friend not handing him something the right way -- 20 times a day we'd have to "start over" and redo getting out of the car, etc. I think this was his way of exerting control, testing how far he could go before I cracked (and I've cracked a couple of times and swatted his bum, which breaks all of our hearts, of course).

Anyway, Gordon Neufeld (Hold on to your kids) has been monumental in helping me to see that ALL of this was a result of the breakdown of our relationship. I saw him speak at the BC homeschoolers convention, and one thing he said that really resonated with me was something to the effect of "we have a generation of little ducks leading their mama duck around, when little ducks NEED to have a mama duck to follow." Basically, that lack of confidence that you mentioned earlier is so destructive to your role as a parent, and kids sense that and flounder. It really strikes me when I hear many of you feeling worried about your kids having time off from school -- relax!! have fun!! just go out and do silly, crazy things with your kids, and if they have a meltdown, who cares? You can't skip life because you *might* have a bad experience!! And uh, if I may plug for the homeschooling life, for those of you with school issues, you might find that the extra time you have to connect makes your relationship more solid, rather than less.

I don't want to come in here and seem judgemental at all -- I really do know where you are coming from. But what has helped me the most has been to shift my whole mindset about raising kids, and reading Unconditional Parenting, Hold on To Your Kids, and various other books, has really helped me a lot. Maturity helps a lot too, both mine and my son's. He's been a basket case for about 3 years now, but here we sit, two months shy of his 5th b-day, and I can safely say that he's not mentally ill (and lots of people feared that he was, from reading what I wrote about him) he just needed a stronger mama duck. A lot of our problem stemmed from the fact that our philosophy was one of respect for the child, but in the heat of the moment, our backgrounds as repressed children came spewing forth, and we often felt that we "couldn't let him get away with this", and tried to control him rather than help him through it. It takes great strength to not give a rat's a$$ what people think of you and just really listen and help your kid.

The situation you described of your son being locked outside raging while you and your dh were locked inside broke my heart. I'm not casting blame, because it's often so hard to know what to do when things escalate to that point, but that poor kid was really trying to tell you something, and you shut him out, literally. I'm not saying that what you did was wrong, necessarily, but if you look at it from his perspective for a minute, it changes everything. Instead of feeling like he has to regain control before he can be let in the house, maybe you needed to firmly grab him by the shoulders, tell him he needed to stop, and restrain him. Maybe he needs a figurative "padded room" so to speak, or just to feel like when he's out of control, you can help him regain control, instead of being left to his own devices. I'm just throwing out ideas, because at some point, something that someone says will stick, right? A few weeks ago, my son was flipping out over not being able to have another turn at a computer game he and his sister and a neighbor were playing (it was the neighbor's turn). He was flipping out, so I picked him up and took him to the bedroom, trying to talk calmly, but he was freaking like he hasn't freaked in months. So I eventually wrapped his body in a blanket to keep him from hitting me and kicking me until I could see in his eyes that THAT was possibly a little, uh...damaging to him . I just kept him from leaving the room (he was trying to get back to the computer to enforce his turn) kept him from hurting me by using my most FIRM (and a little scary, I think) voice to tell him that he was NOT going to hit me, and he backed down. Eventually, after going through this for about 20 minutes, I sat on the floor and reached out to him and he accepted my snuggle, and we just sat for a bit. I had already said my piece about taking turns, and there was nothing else to say. I weathered the storm, but without abandoning him, without engaging him, without ignoring him, being there for him but not abused by him. I was a strong mama duck, and he eventually followed my lead. The main problem, really, was that because he had been playing that computer game for about 30 minutes, he wasn't connected to me at all (or the real world, really!!), so when it wasn't his turn anymore, it was really jarring for him, and because of our lack of connectedness he wasn't up for cooperation. That one was fairly easy, because we had nowhere else we needed to be, no food burning on the stove, no other child needing attention, etc. But, he hasn't had a fit since then, and I do think a clear boundary was set that day that has had a lasting impression. I've stopped catering to his every whim, and he's learning to accept that -- both with age and with a growing awareness that he can't push me around, but MOSTLY, with his realization that I'm here to help him, and I'm on his side. I've always known that, but he is just figuring it out. One important "Neufeldianism" is that it doesn't matter how much love you have for the child, but how much love the child has for you. A good relationship with your child is based on how the child feels about you, and whether he wants to cooperate with you or not. I agree with what other people have said here about not taking things away or punishing in any way, because that's totally disrespectful, not at all helpful, and really just a way for us to exert power and control over our kids, which never makes them love us or trust us. It was a hard lesson for me to face, but it has made all the difference in the world.

I liked the quote: "the larger fabric of our relationship with our children is not ruined by one errant thread". But I would argue that we've come, in our society, to accept a less durable fabric as the norm, and that what seems like one errant thread to us may be more like a run in your nylons to a kid. Am I making any sense? It's hard to accept that after all our hard work and devotion we still may be screwing up, but facing up to our shortcomings and seeing them through the eyes of our kids (and remembering what it's like to be a kid!) is the only way to really help them through life. We all screw up, but how we deal with those screw-ups says so much!!


We're Tiffani , Mark , Lucy (9/99) , Dexter (8/01) ,and Zachary Marvin (3/07) and Naomi Rose (6/09), home 11/10, by way of Ugandan adoption.

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Old 07-04-2006, 11:23 AM
 
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Julie, We understand. No one here is going to beat you up. If I've learned nothing else of importance, I've learned that parents make mistakes (sometimes huge ones) and that forgiving myself is very important-if I can't forgive, I can't move on to grow as a parent. I'd like to say more but suddenly the natives are very restless.
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Old 07-04-2006, 12:25 PM
 
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Julie-
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Old 07-04-2006, 02:15 PM
 
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Julie,
someone once told me (after I confessed one of my dark moments as a parent) that what makes a good parent is *caring* that you'd effed up and reflecting and moving on, able to do better next time. This is very very hard journey, and one that doesn't get much support. Hang in there.
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Old 07-04-2006, 03:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearsmama
I have this magnet on my fridge that says: Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow".
This is true courage. One face of it, anyway.

I cannot figure out how to say what I'm about to say without sounding holier-than-thou, so I'm just going to do my best. **ETA that this is not directed at a particular person, but is just my own ramblings which were stirred by the sentence I quoted.** And I am going to say it because I think it's very relevant to the discussion of caring for ourselves, compassion for ourselves and how that enables us to grow as parents and do better "next time.":
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearsmama
But literally short of abuse, I really have mostly compassion for every mama and dad. Every single one of us.
I think that it's extremely important that compassion for my fellow parents not end when abuse begins. I had to look up the word "compassion" to make sure I'm using the right word, and I think I am. Compassion, according to my dictionary is "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress along with a desire to alleviate it." That has always been my sense of the word. Compassion is not synonymous with approval.

It's not easy, though, to cultivate compassion for those who do things we find shocking or abhorrent. But the way I see it (when I stop to consider), there but for the grace of g-d go I. Most parents who abuse do not do so because they were simply born evil and born with a fetish for causing pain in small children. They abuse their kids for many of the same reasons that I screw up and yell at my kids, plus others. That can be hard to see, to imagine, to understand. And it's scary in a way, too. What if I'd never found MDC? What if I'd never come across a gentle discipline book? What if I had no understanding about child development? What if I lacked all that information and came from an abusive home, or were under unimaginable stress? What leads a parent to substance abuse that tends to end in child abuse? What if I had no support in my quest to better my parenting? What if I had continued to blame myself for my child's difficulties, and if everyone around me blamed me, as each and every gentle parenting method failed to change her behavior-could I have become abusive in an attempt to control her? I can see so many factors that can lead to a parent's abusing their child. Really, there but for the grace go I. I can see it. And I wonder if some of the things I've said and done were abusive. But what most helps me change and learn and grow? It's not the shame, or the guilt, or the blame. It's the compassion, the compassion I receive from others and (maybe mostly) the compassion I can give to myself. And also the compassion I extend to others. It's also the understanding that helps, the understanding of not just my kids but also of myself. I think this is what we all need, as human parents. This is not only a gift we can give to others, but a gift we can give ourselves as well.

Okay, so I've been really working at this post and it still sounds soapbox-ish. I don't mean it to be, I just can't convey it any better. Compassion and understanding have for me become so vital-and in seeing how vital it is to me and my kids, I wish to extend it to all parents and children. If I can't extend it to everyone, it becomes more difficult for me to extend it to myself. And if I can't extend compassion and understanding to myself, then I have a much harder time growing and learning as a parent. It's a circle.

On the subject of "where did this alien personality of mine come from?": I have found that while sometimes my reactions seem to come out of nowhere, they always come from somewhere-some unmet need, some feeling, some habit of mind, something. Sometimes I'm just unaware of where it's coming from, sometimes it takes a long period of practicing becoming aware to really understand where it's coming from. Not digging, not theorizing, not psychoanalyzing myself-just being aware. Awareness is a tremendously difficult thing to cultivate.

Have I shared this story here?: There was a time when I read that the first step to ending a habit was to simply become aware of what's behind the urge to engage in it. Not to try to stop it, but simply to listen to oneself and become aware of where the urge comes from. And I wanted to apply this to my habit of yelling, but I was so afraid to do it because of the idea of not trying to stop myself. I realized that I thought that if I didn't try to stop myself, I would be in essence giving myself permission to yell and that in turn would lead to my becoming an even worse parent and maybe eventually horribly abusive. It sounds silly, but this was one of those ways of thinking that was really ingrained in me and that is really ingrained in our culture: that people are inherently "bad" and that without some kind of intimidation or punishment or reward people will always automatically choose the worst possible path, that if we offer compassion when someone has been "bad" they will in turn become even "worse". Once I recognized this in myself, I thought it was a little silly to assume that and found the courage to try. And truly, letting go of always trying to stop myself and instead focusing my energy on cultivating awareness was the most wonderful thing I ever did-it was the key, the beginning of actually making progress and changing. It was the beginning of seeing myself not as a bad parent, but as a person with needs and feelings who is worthy of compassion and understanding. It was the beginning of understanding that I cannot be a good parent without taking good care of myself. It was so amazing, too, in the way it freed me to really see my kids and find those responses that were gentle and effective-in the way it freed me from just reacting.

So now that it has taken me more than an hour to write this in stolen moments while the kids are busy, I'm done and I hope it made sense. It's hard for me to keep a train of thought going with interruptions.

Oh, and I too love what Maureen said: "The larger fabric of our relationship with our children is not ruined by one errant thread."
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Old 07-04-2006, 06:17 PM
 
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Sledg, thank you for your beautiful words. I don't think you sound too soapbox-y at all. I agree with you about the importance of compassion, of having compassion for every living being, actually, as difficult as that is to achieve.
Thank you, thank you.
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Old 07-08-2006, 02:36 PM
 
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I posted this great long post a few days ago and then lost it and didn't have the energy to return until today so here goes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tiffani
I liked the quote: "the larger fabric of our relationship with our children is not ruined by one errant thread". But I would argue that we've come, in our society, to accept a less durable fabric as the norm, and that what seems like one errant thread to us may be more like a run in your nylons to a kid.
I very strongly believe that children have it much better today than they ever have in the history of the world. Certainly we have a long way to go and some things have gotten much worse as we have worked to repair other things. There are no good old days of parenting. Those dreams of Leave it to Beaver lifes were full of sexual abuse, physical abuse, shame, guilt, domestic abuse, racism, and sexism. We have more choices in how we create families, when we have children, the number of children we have. We understand brain development and nutrition and mental health and learning so much better than we ever have.

I wish we had universal health care coverage, longer maternity/paternity leaves, a higher breastfeeding rate, lower c-sect rate. I wish fewer parents spanked. I wish more parents felt they could trust the school system. I wish more of us could count on our children's fathers to be fathers and patners.

But I don't think we need higher expectations for moms. I don't think we need to feel guilty for our mistakes, our shortcomings. If people took the world as seriously as mothers take their children, we could end all the worlds troubles.

Ok-am I making any sense? Blessings to all.

Maureen

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