A lot of parenting is a big crap shoot. You may have a situation (say, your kid being a real PITA when it comes to eating) and you want to find a solution. So, you look to your friends or the interwebz or books (remember those?). However, every now and then, you have a situation where it doesn’t really bother you, but you feel as if it should.
I will call this phenomenon, Creating More Problems for Yourself™, also known as, You Are a Fucking Idiot™, or You Stupid Masochist™.
As many of you know, Cookie Monster can be difficult when it comes to eating. He’s not the world’s pickiest eater, but he’s picky enough that it annoys me and bothers me and often, he goes to bed hungry because he just didn’t like what was for dinner. I’ve battled it out many a time with him, and it always leaves me wiped out, annoyed, and sad. Sad because I turn into a screaming monster and end up roughly shoving Cookie Monster into time out, or locking him in the garage (with the lights on), or locking him in his room for a few minutes. This leads to weeping hysterics from Cookie Monster (can’t imagine why) and escalating tantrums and simultaneous Limp Toddler (so I feel as if I’m going to wrench his arms out) and Will Not Move But Can Really Kick and Slam His Head Into Something Toddler.
However, we’ve been making some headway, and usually, I stop caring and tell him if he doesn’t eat by the time we go upstairs to take a bath, then he’s just going to be hungry until breakfast. For his meals in general, I don’t care if he takes a few bites, goes play, runs around, and then comes back for a few more bites, and then disappears again. It annoys me slightly because I know it’s a bad habit, and it makes it hard to go out to eat, but ultimately, I don’t care.
Well, one of my friends came over the other day and her four year old daughter kept saying that my kids weren’t sitting down to eat properly and running around during meal times. My friend wasn’t trying to make me feel bad or anything – she was just pointing out that they were very strict with their kids about meal times. No loud talking and no running off during meals. Totally reasonable. My friend was just trying to explain why her kid was making these observations. No judging.
Anyhow, I got it in my head that my kids should sit still and eat their food all in one sitting without taking breaks. I randomly decided to begin enforcing this yesterday morning – with no warning to my kids. Needless to say, it did not go over well. At 7:40am in the morning, I was already screaming at Cookie Monster, throwing him in the garage, bringing him upstairs to his room while he was screaming and weeping his brains out. All he kept crying was, “I want to play!!” I finally collapsed on the floor to the kids’ room and almost started sobbing. I left Cookie Monster there and went downstairs and ignored my children for awhile to calm down.
Then, I had an epiphany.
What the fuck was I doing? I don’t even care about whether or not Cookie Monster sits at the table quietly for the whole duration of his meal. If he doesn’t finish his food by the time we have to leave (or whatever other reason), then he’ll be hungry. I don’t want to scream and yell at my sweet boy. And certainly not first thing in the morning. Why was I trying so hard (and failing so miserably) to enforce something that I didn’t care about in a way that didn’t fit my personality at all? It was like putting on the wrong skin – that’s how I felt during the whole heated exchange. That I was not myself – and it was horrible.
So, I said, “Fuck it.” As a result, very little screaming for the rest of the day and yes, Cookie Monster went hungry for dinner because he didn’t want what I made and I was fine with that. So was he. He wasn’t going to die and I wouldn’t feel like a shit. Win/Win.
I know I’ve posted about this before, but it’s good to remind myself YET AGAIN. I do not want to be responsible for dimming the lights in my children’s eyes (especially Cookie Monster since he’s the oldest and I’m the hardest on him). I want them to know only love and kindness from their mommy, however imperfect I am. I want to be worthy of their love and adoration.
Cookie Monster can be an annoying PITA (ie: a preschooler) but then there are the times when he races out of the door after school, throwing his arms around me saying, “You’re here!” or when he ran to me last night and declared, “You’re my best friend!” (I don’t even think he knows what that means, but it means a lot to me.) There are the moments when we’re laying in bed and he cups my face in his hands and his big eyes glow full of love and enthusiasm and he just laughs and laughs and laughs. Or when we’re saying our prayers and he is just so grateful for everything when he recounts his day.
I have to hold on to the truth that I love my boy even when things are chaotic and I’m exhausted and cranky and feeling as if kicking a puppy would make me feel better. Sometimes, it’s just really hard to remember in the heat of the moment.
*sigh* When I tell Hapa Papa this and he’s also tired and cranky, sometimes, he’ll tell me that it’s my own fault because I wanted so many children and that it will only be harder with four kids. I have to restrain myself from punching him in the throat. But other times, Hapa Papa is sympathetic and understanding and gives a lot of grace.
That’s also what I have to remember: no matter how much I screw up and I yell, “Jesus!” in half expletive and half prayer, that I am given a soothing balm of grace that covers my many sins to my children. I have to trust and hope and choose to believe that God’s grace is sufficient – and that my children will grow up fine despite my many failings.
Weird. Somehow my post went from my massive parenting fail to a post ending on God’s grace. I suppose it is aptly fitting. Amen to that.