Ok, this is an obvious one. Truth is…heck no it isn’t!
With Little Nugget, I have learned (and continue learning) that parenting is one of the most difficult aspects of my life. Parenting, in my opinion, is a bittersweet journey that gives me a taste of every emotion under the sun.
There are no shortcuts in parenting. As with many other things in life, half-assing something means I receive half-ass results. Inadequately doing a task in the parenting realm often times (if not always) works me more towards the negative end of the emotion spectrum that this bittersweet journey brings to my life. If it doesn’t at that moment, I assure you that it has come back to bite me in the butt.
Now, let us keep in mind that what would be a shortcut for me may be considered throughly doing it (whatever “it” is) for another mother. What I’m trying to say is, let us remember that just as we are all different, so are our parenting styles. I do my best to make a conscious effort to respect the way other parents decide to handle their lives; in other words, I try hard not to judge. (I’m just being honest.)
This Truth is is a sore spot in my journey at the moment. We have been having some heated tantrum-type situations with Little Nugget these past couple of days, and there are no shortcuts available even if I did want to take that route out. Trial and error is all I have to say. Ok not really, I have more to say.
Little Nugget currently has Josh and I attempting different techniques to try to bring him down to a manageable level when he goes into full-scream mode—a level where you can try to reason with him. Yes, yes, I know, he’s only three! Well, Josh and I believe it starts now. We have tried gentle-parenting, time-outs, showering him with love at the moment of the screamfests, spankings, and taking away privileges; and we are yet to find something that solidly works. I do try to keep in mind that it has only been a couple of days, and that he is only three. What helps me keep this in mind is remembering how I was as a child. I know I brought my mother an abundance of stress, and I did so for more than two days.
The following conversation happened during Little Nugget’s screamfest—heavy tears and repeat yelling about what he doesn’t find acceptable—upon finding bell peppers in his scrambled eggs yesterday morning.
(Please, this is my space and just as I expect myself to respect other parents, I expect the same respect back. Just putting that out there.)
Little Nugget: I want you to make me happy.
Me: I cannot do that, Ilan.
Little Nugget: Why? (Imagine a long-drawn-out “why” at the top of a toddler’s lungs.)
Me: Because that is not my responsibility. It is your responsibility.
(Ok, sounds harsh when I read it, but I want to teach him that no one has the right to make him happy or sad. I want to teach him that someone can add to his happiness or sadness, but they do not own his emotions. His happiness cannot and should not depend on anyone.)
Little Nugget: I want to make you happy, mom.
Me: You don’t need to make me happy, Ilan. I already am.
(I must model the behavior I wish to teach. I pray for him to learn that I will love him unconditionally. I will love him even after him screaming his head off. I will love him even if I spank him. I pray to convey that his tantrums do not disrupt my core happiness.)
My intention is not to be or sound absolute, I simply want to prove a point so I can expand on it. See, I remember the joy in my life depending on my husband. This was exhausting as I had unrealistic expectations. I remember constantly being told, “you must love yourself first in order to love others.” The concept made sense to me, but the execution was not attainable. I now see that there was no commitment on my part to learn how to do it, much less practice it. Being a mother, I want to teach Little Nugget and Zion these skills and in order to do so I must own them. It’s mutualism—a win-win situation. I grow to be a better a person while teaching them…or are they teaching me? Does the zebra have black or white stripes? Ha!
Having children is like having a mirror in front of you. If you allow your heart and mind the receptiveness to observe and learn from your children, you learn about yourself. This gives you the chance to strengthen (or weaken) yourself. The choice is yours. It always is.
In what ways have your children helped you grow?