I wrote a blog post and saved it. Now I can’t find it. (Maybe it’s just as well it was about The Right to Know Cricket.) As I sit here wondering what to blog about, I realise that I’m trying to escape from the truth. Do I really want to blog about how I’m doing at the moment? Not really, I’d rather choose a sweet, fun topic and pretend I’m the perfect mother. Unfortunately I’m not the perfect mother (although I was told last week that I was a good, good, good mother according to this spiritual psychologist who I saw. I suspect most of us are actually good, good, good mothers.) There’s nothing sweet or fun about the way I’ve been for the last couple of weeks.
The truth of the matter is that I’ve been walking around angry. Not all the time. Not even most of the time. Just around the Princes, when they’re home from school, homework time and Power Hour. (Is that most of the time? Oops.) Last week my dear, darling, lovely husband went away for the week to Australia. I couldn’t go because someone had to look after the dear, darling, sweet Princes and make sure they felt emotionally secure. Let’s just say it was a week from hell. All on my ownsome shouting at the Princes. I didn’t realise I had a serious discipline problem until then. And I do I have a serious discipline problem, coupled with an anger issue.
So I, as well as being an extremely honest, am also extremely into my issues. I love dealing with them. I over deal with them, so much so that the Princes run a mile when I try and deal with theirs. And my dear husband…well let’s not even go there. So I was left looking at my jello, discipline muscles and murky, mucky, volcanic anger. I realised that it was all the same thing. Because I feel that I have no control over the Princes. After I tell them to ‘please, please, please’, for the millionth time, take out their homework, get their pencil, go to the bath..(need I go on), I lose it. They don’t listen, and my brain falls out of my mouth in impotent rage.
And it’s in the impotency that the rage comes from. At that point everything is a mess. The Princes still don’t listen or finally do because they’re scared stiff. And I’m left feeling like a puddle of smelly shame and guilt. This isn’t the mother I want to be. This isn’t the mothering life I signed up for.
Of course this leads to a bit more rage – ‘Why is everything so damn difficult? Why didn’t anyone tell me that mothering is such a sham (crap) job?’ Then with a throbbing throat and a heart that wants to burst with tears, I soldier on. Try clean up the larva of emotions and cool it down as soon as possible.
Not pretty, not fun and certainly not on. So I had a really hard look at myself and having gone to Sheryl Cohen’s parenting workshop recently where she has a section on discipline, I realised that I’m very inconsistent in my punishments. I also realised on the course that one of my underlying beliefs as a mother is that I want them to be happy. I can’t bear the Princes crying tears it makes me feel terrible. However I can’t discipline them and keep them happy at the same time. No wonder they’re busy breaking sinks, flooding hallways and leaving towels everywhere.
So first to change my underlying belief and replace it with – ‘My children do not have to like me’ and ‘I am the boss.’ That second one is huge for me. I do have a bossy streak for sure, but in general I’m quite easy going. I was brought up very strictly, strait jacketed at a very early age. I find it difficult to have my own voice. I find it difficult to be strict with my children. I really, really, really don’t like it. However I don’t like feeling like I’m the maid in my own house. So enough is enough and the ‘dragon mother’ is officially here.
So these days if the children don’t listen I say very sweetly, ‘If you choose not to wear pajamas then you’re not coming to Granny’s house.’ I left a flabbergasted Prince crying, when he chose not to wear pajamas. When another lovely Prince was incredibly rude in the car after I asked him about his day, I informed him (angrily I’m afraid) that I will not fetch him from school the next day, the driver will, because I won’t be spoken to that way.’ Needless to say he was very polite on the way to soccer later on.
It’s not easy being consistent with consequences and always being on top of the Princes’ behaviour. And I certainly don’t want to over dragon them. So I am trying to balance the policing and consequences with three things:
1. Move On – Once I’ve given a consequence I try and renew our relationship, and forget the incident. I don’t want to cling to a bad incident or behaviour and I don’t want my Princes to either.
2. Try Again – I say to them, ‘Tomorrow you’ll have another chance to listen and put on your pajamas when I tell you.’ It’s important that they know I don’t want to punish them, but rather educate them.
3. Have Fun – Tonight I made the Princes sushi, because it was a different fun meal. It created a laughing, chopsticks, soya sauce feeling for the evening, that definitely lightened everyone’s moods.
I certainly don’t get it right all the time, but I feel that I’m at least on the right road to self respect as a mother. It may be a long road. But the earlier I start teaching the Princes that there are consequences for their actions the better. (Another topic is positiver reenforcement. We do have a star chart, that’s a whole other blog.)
Meanwhile I do recommend educational psychologist, Sheryl Cohen’s parenting workshop, you can look up her website – http://www.mumcomequick.com . It has a lot of information about her talks, parenting CD’s and articles. She’s sensible and practical. Well worth a look.