“Never get so concerned with raising a good kid that you forget you already have one”– Glennon Melton
I blew it today. Or more accurately I blew my stack. I blow it fairly often really, but sometimes I do it in a more spectacular fashion than others. Yes, I know that all parents blow it, but that doesn’t make me feel any better. I just want to live the impossible life in which I know just what to say and when to say it in order to get cooperation or understanding or whatever it is that I need in the moment. Instead, my kids talk back and disobey and occasionally behave so atrociously that I forget they are really good kids. And that they are 8. And that they have some challenges the other kids their age they know may not have. So, I should be cutting them a break probably as often as I wish they would cut me a break. Probably more often.
Not only do I get sick of the sound of my own voice from the nagging over typical annoying child behavior (chewing with mouths open, tipping over in chairs, dripping wet bodies on the wood floor), but then there are these moments of incredulous wonder for me as my sweet little cherubs get into a knock-down drag out fight or scream at me for whatever reason or let a curse fly or speak to me in a nasty tone and occasionally with charming words that they learned at school and my head starts to spin. Before I know it I’m screaming like a banshee. Then all of us are left feeling sad and angry and defeated. And I can’t help but think that if there was a man in this house more than half this shit wouldn’t happen. I realize that sounds a little sexist, but I’m beyond political correctness at this point. Of course, if anyone else suggested to me that the boys needed a man around in order to grow up into good men I’d go Mt. Vesuvius on them. However, I do recognize that there seems to be a certain amount of button pushing and boundary testing which goes on with moms that I do not think happens with dads. Maybe if dad is the only parent around, but I would have to get back to you on that.
As a single parent, it is easy to point to doing everything alone as a reason my fuse is shorter than it ought to be. All the responsibilities, all the child-rearing decisions, all the joys, frustrations, illnesses, money problems, negotiations, teaching, learning…it all falls on me. Yes, I have an amazing set of family and friends. But at the end of the day, I don’t have that other person to share it all with. I don’t have a regular “buffer” between me and the boys. I can’t say, “I’m going to the gym!” and go and make time for me and blow off steam and do something that makes me feel good and will in turn help me to be a better, more patient mommy. And on the flip side, the boys have no one (on a regular day-to-day basis) who really understands what it is like to be a boy. Or someone to show them how a respectful, loving relationship works. No one to tell them to listen and respect their mother. No one to model the way to be a man. I can tell them. But I can’t show them.
Obviously, this is just one of the many challenges that I face as they become older and more independent and want to “try out” different personality traits. I will have to try and continue to be good cop and bad cop, mom and dad, and also try to figure out how this won’t deplete me altogether. Because right now, I’m running on empty. The only thing I can do is remind myself that this too shall pass and these good little boys will eventually grow up and I will lament the time that I wasted nagging them about table manners or crying in my room because I feel like I am doing a terrible job as a parent. And taking the easy way out by blaming my “singleness” for my temper isn’t going to get us very far.
Everyone tells me that when they grow up, they will understand all that I did for them- the sacrifices, the hard times. And I’ve always thought that I would give up that future revelation in a heartbeat just to have them be happy now. Happy, respectful boys with good table manners. But until then, I will just have to keep doing the best I can and keep forgiving myself for these bad days and keep on keeping on. Because a corollary to the above quote about raising a good kid is also something I need to keep in mind:
“Never get so concerned about being a good parent that you forget you already are one.” –Glennon Melton