Before I became a Momma, I had a lot of really good ideas about parenting, mostly things I would definitely not do. Regular readers (all three of you :-P) know I have expressed my affection for attachment parenting with posts on breastfeeding and positive discipline. I’ve shared a bit of my parenting philosophy and acknowledged that sometimes our season isn’t exactly enchanting. I’ve also come clean about where I fall on the natural parenting spectrum.
To summarize, I’m a quasi-crunchy, err on the side of gentle, slightly sarcastic, AP-loving kind of gal.
This by no means implies that I live each and every day with rose-colored optimism and saintly patience. On the contrary, I have days (weeks?) when being a responsible adult pretty much blows. But, having some “guidelines” helps me to focus on the end result: content, well-adjusted children who are kind to others and will make a difference.
I don’t always get it right. Many days, I don’t even come close to responding sensitively or positively, and balance kind of goes right out the window.
The truth is . . . sometimes I totally fall off the AP wagon.
Like last weekend in the grocery store, when I started flipping out because J was being, well, three. I believe a can of tomatoes was slammed on a shelf . . . by me.
Or Tuesday at the doctor’s with E, when I had zero patience for her “I refuse to do anything you want me to” attitude.
Or yesterday afternoon, when I plopped J on the couch (not very nicely) and mumbled something about time out, which we don’t even use, and walked away . . . after I had (also not very nicely) grabbed something out of her hand that she wasn’t supposed to have.
Balance . . . well, let’s just save that for another post.
It used to be when I would witness parents being totally exasperated with their children, I would think: There’s a better way! I will control myself! I will be the adult! MY children won’t act that way anyway, so it’s really a moot point.
Now I just hope I don’t sound as bad as they do.
So, what’s a Momma to do? Well, sometimes it helps to have different scenarios role-played in my head. I love the Ask the Doctor section of Laura Markham’s website. Go ahead . . . click on it, choose your child’s age, and read away. You will see yourself in many of these parents’ questions. And then, if you’re like me, you’ll think “Oh, yeah, that’s what I could have done instead.” I also really enjoy the discipline index at askdrsears.com.
It supposedly takes 21 days to make something a habit. (Random factoid: This revelation is attributed to Maxwell Maltz.) So, when I start to slip into reactive mode, I stop and think: Is this what I want to be doing 21 days from now? Two years from now? When my kids are teenagers? Um, no.
I know the kind of parent I want to be. I strive for it daily and often succeed, unless of course I fail. And that’s okay. Better to have high expectations and fall short sometimes, than to have low expectations and meet them every time. I’m sure someone else has said that before and I’m not giving proper credit, but I don’t feel like Googling right now.
I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes on parenting.
The bottom line is that raising kids is not for wimps. My wife says it’s a test of your capacity to deal with disorder and unpredictability—a test you can’t study for, and one whose results aren’t always reassuring. Forget “rocket science” or “brain surgery”: When we want to make the point that something isn’t really all that difficult, we ought to say, “Hey, it’s not parenting.”—Alfie Kohn, Unconditional Parenting