Thanks for all of your ideas. I was definitely typing in the heat of the (ongoing...and going...and going) moment and needed to vent. i know spanking and yelling isn't going to solve anything. but sometimes...you just get so fed up.
my husband and i just had a long chat, and much of it was centered around our expectations. My father said something interesting to me the other day, which was that anger/frustration is something that arises out of expectations. And i now see that much of my anger has to do with my expectations in two areas:
1. Her emotional/behavioral development
2. My needs/wants
We do sleep in a family bed. she has a room with a bed in it with her stuff, but doesn't sleep there much. The kids are about 2.75 years apart. we are lucky that the baby does not wake her up, even when he cries. She just sleeps though it. the problem lately is that he is going to bed at 7pm sharp because that is just when he is out. he is so easy to get to sleep, its not even funny. when this happens, she gets read to in her bed instead of ours so as to not wake the baby. often, lately, she has said she wants to stay and sleep in her own bed at that point. its much easier to just do it in our bed, but i just lay with her in her bed and say "lets go to sleep." when we go to lay down (she does think that i go to bed with her every night) regardless of where it is, she starts up with the "i don't want to go to bed" and gets up and tries to leave. my husband and i have initiated a plan for future bedtimes. we have been trying to get her to go to bed early, and when we do this (like tonight at 6:45 because she was really tired, but also more because we wanted "our time" to ourselves) she resists going to sleep even more. when she gets up at 7pm and says "im not tired. i don't want to go to bed" maybe...maybe she isnt? i know its likely that she is, but if she says this at 9pm, its less likely to be true and she is also less likely to fight. if you could have seen the fight tonight--its hard to believe a very, very tired child could put up such a fight. anyway, so our new plan is this: no more trying to get her to bed before 8pm. at 8, we start the bedtime routene (yes, we have a long one that involves lots of books, telling stories, back rubs, etc.) and if, after stories, she persists in the "i dont want to go to bed" thing, my husband will play memory game or hi-ho cherry-o or something with her in bed. we'll just work on keeping her calm, relaxed and in bed until she is ready to fall asleep. the fight is just so not worth it. i totally lost my S**T tonight in the worst way. like...out of control parent. it is the worst thing in the world to look back and say "i was OUT OF CONTROL". we ask them to 'use their words' and all that, and then we have tantrums, totally lose it, too. i don't know how i can expect her to not freak out, when i do it..
i put sleepless in america on my hold list for the library.
so anyway, back to the expectations. i have been angry at her for several things, which are just totally unrealistic expectations on my part. for example, expecting her to not be totally selfish. why would i expect that of a 3 year old? also, expecting her to understand my feelings. again, why? expecting her to understand various things a 3 year old cant, such as patience, time, delaying gratification, controlling her emotions, asking her to explain behavior, etc. an example is today my dad let her play with a porcelain doll that my grandma made. not wanting to instigate a tantrum, i let her play with it gently. when i told her that she couldn't take it outside, she got mad and threw it on the floor and broke part of it. so i was upset. but i was totally unrealistic in several ways. 1)i should have just taken it away immediately. she should not have been playing with it. period. 2)she probably wasn't trying to break it. she threw it down because she was mad that i wouldn't let her take it outside, and it broke. 3)getting mad when she didn't understand why i was sad/upset about it. 4)staying mad when she wouldn't apologize
all of these things are founded on totally unrealistic expectations: that she understands that porcelain can break (even when i explained it was fragile); understands that other people have feelings just like hers (and that what she experiences are "feelings"); understands the idea of a sentimental item with family significance; understands that some 'toys' are not for playing with; can empathize with my feelings; can actually feel "sorry" about something (especially when she totally doesn't understand it); can feel regret/remorse, especially in regards to "making" someone else feel something (especially since she doesn't understand that she can make someone feel a certain way, or that other people do feel.) i see now that i need to lower the bar. waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay lower. lower it so low that i can't be frustrated because what i expect is realistic. if she is whining at me, i'm not frustrated because that is just What Three Year Olds Do. not getting frustrated when she has a tantrum about getting her way, because that is Just What Three Year Olds Do. i can feel frustrated, but it wont be as bad because i won't be compounding it in my mind asking "why doesn't she care about what I feel?!" or "she is so selfish!" or other silly unrealistic things.
i also need to adjust my expectations about my own desires and getting what i want (for example, getting to watch a movie only made me madder when she wouldn't go to bed tonight). and just realizing that this season of raising really young children will pass, and i will have more me time in the future.
so that's about it...the baby is crying. i will try to write more tomorrow.