A few weeks ago I went a little crazy unfollowing shit on Facebook and Instagram. I spend a lot of time reading things. This has led to so much unnecessary bullshit in my life.
It began a long time ago, when I started learning about GMOs. I became pretty obsessive about the food I was eating and giving to Gannon. We still primarily eat organic everything but I’m not having a mini meltdown every time we eat somewhere else that isn’t serving organic food. Sometimes I even buy things that aren’t organic. It was an obsession that left me anxious over food choices. It put strain on my life and I have since let most of it go. I’m not stressing out about it as much. I even bought corn at a farmer’s market yesterday and didn’t ask if it was grown with organic practices.
The problem with having information at our fingertips is there is information about everything that is accessible every second of the day and is never ending. This can be good in some cases, when you want to quickly read about something to learn an answer. But often it can make us confused or influenced in a way we may not have wanted.
I stopped following so many pages, recently, because I had an ah-ha moment. If I could lose my mind over what kind of food we were eating instead of being grateful we had food, what were all of the memes and blogs about parenting doing to my relationship with my children?
I don’t need to drink wine (or beer, really would be my preference) because my kids gave me a hard time all day. My kids aren’t assholes. I don’t hate being a mom. I don’t want them to go to school so I can be annoyed that they have a snow day or a school vacation or are sick. My needs don’t come before theirs. My frustration isn’t anything they are doing wrong. They aren’t bad kids. They aren’t annoying. They aren’t gross. They aren’t the reason I have grey hair. I don’t need to hand them off to my husband and run out of the house screaming and go shopping at Target. They don’t need to entertain themselves. They don’t need to cry alone in a dark room, ignored, needs being unmet to learn how to sleep. They don’t need to be potty trained by 2 or sleeping through the night before they are even a year old. They don’t need to sleep alone. They don’t need to have time outs, loved toys taken away, punishments. They don’t need to live in fear of reactions. They certainly don’t need a “good whooping” to learn respect.
I had these kids. I made the decision to become a mother. That decision is a very large undertaking, one that we can really look at in a way that is unhealthy, ugly, and negative. We are their first role models. They look at us with those big, wide eyes, wondering how to handle a certain situation or navigate uncharted territory. They need us to show them how to live by living, not by pushing them away and ignoring the things that are important to them.
I have realized over the past few months how far from my beliefs I have allowed myself to wander. I began yelling and whining about my days with my kids. I would text my husband so many times to tell him how hard my day was, how the kids were making me miserable. SURPRISE! The kids weren’t making me miserable, I WAS MAKING ME MISERABLE. The kids weren’t feeling very connected to me with the misery I was lashing out at every turn.
Along with deleting unhealthy parenting shit, I have been trying to pretend I live in a time where we didn’t have cell phones to text everyone every thought we have instead of waiting until we see them next. This way, instead of making a mountain out of a mole hill, I am letting the moments pass and it gives me the ability to realize that whatever hell I thought I was in is over. I’m not in hell.I don’t need an instant venting session. I’m a mom to three amazing kids who sometimes have needs they can’t express as an adult would. They need guidance through this, not punishment.
We have been working toward the life we want. A peaceful and calm life. It is taking a while to get back to where we once where, if we ever were truly there to begin with.
I called Paul at 4:00 to see where he was in his day, and how soon he would be home. I was trying to get dinner started and I can always use another hand at dinner time. Egan was covered in sticky lollipop and had crawled in the dog crate so he was also then covered in dog hair. I got a wash cloth to give him a quick wipe. He protested my efforts so I instead gave him the washcloth. He wiped his hands and his face the best a 19 month old can. He took that washcloth and for 45 minutes walked around the house, wiping any surface he could reach. He was content, happy with this task. This morning he asked to vacuum by walking to me, grabbing my hand, and bringing me to the vacuum. I helped him unwind the cord and plugged it in for him. He was happy to have this job to do. He was excited to help me empty the canister, wrap the cord back up, and put the vacuum away.
It doesn’t need to be a struggle. A toddler eating a lollipop is going to be sticky but who cares? What happens if he touches stuff? I wipe it off. If it is sticky from a lollipop, chances are, it can be cleaned with a little water. What happens if he writes on the wall with markers? With crayons? I can gently guide him back to paper and someday, repaint the walls, as we would anyway. Or buy washable markers. I can show them with my reactions that spilled milk happens to all of us and all we need to do is a quick clean up.
We are on this road to a joyful life. A life of love. A life of trust and understanding.
We are still growing and learning, as adults, to do better for our children. I’m far from perfect, as any other human. I slip up. I am working through anxiety and unwanted body memories that leap in multiple times a day, taking over my brain to tell me I am in danger. I am not in danger and my brain will learn to stop protecting me when my kids are all crying at the same time or any other number of triggers I experience. But it isn’t their fault, and I’m coming to realize how much of my problems I was confusing with problems they had. They don’t actually have problems but are affected by the anger and explosive emotions I was having.
Some days, respecting my children comes so easily. We go with the flow, the days fly by, there is laughter and fun. On the bad days, we get through them together. One day last week, I ended up sobbing while washing the dishes. Before I knew it, Gannon was at my side, rubbing my back, leaning into my leg. I sat down and held him in my lap while he hugged me and allowed myself to cry in his presence. Waverly joined us and also comforted me through this moment. Egan, too, came to see what was going on and stood nearby, taking everything in, observing the interaction.
I am a sometimes yeller. I am an always imperfect human. But I will not raise kids who think anything other than, “she was a damn good mother.”