My morning time has been abbreviated a lot lately, due to changing schedules and temperments. Instead of the grand, thought provoking post I had planned for today, I’m falling back on random pics and something in between complaining and pleading to unseen forces for help.
I had a thought yesterday that the motherhood learning curve is so steep for me right now, that rather than climbing or keeping up, I’m having the sensation of sliding back down. Getting ahead of my daughter’s development, so I can be prepped and in place for X Y Z changes is an idea that actually makes me laugh. (“Bitter laugh! Bitter laugh!“).
Trying to mother a toddler in a way that is nurturing and respectful (as opposed to punitive and oppositional) feels like some kind of Jiu Jitsu. When my approach isn’t working, I have a clear sense that there is another approach that would work (or at least be better) but I have no idea what it is. I start to scramble around inside myself, turning things over, upside down, looking at it all from another angle, as I try to understand what she is asking for, what is really needed.
Reading books helps. Websites like this help. Lately though, approaches like this one only served to slow the train to crazyville…we didn’t actually jump track. Then I resort to super effective measures. Like yelling. Or offering chocolate. Or crying on the toilet.
I’m not sure how to measure success right now. I have this idea that success would look like me going through a whole day without becoming totally fed up and pissed off. A whole day of responding like an Amazing Mom, where I meet my edge (over and over) with grace and balance. At least for the moment, I’m having to accept that if I’m utterly burnt out for only half an hour, as opposed to the whole day, that maybe I can chalk it up with a plus sign. Maybe there was only one instance, among the 30, where I was Awesome Mom. I’m hoping it counts for something.
Websites like that one might not help, actually. It sets up an expectation (in my head anyway) that other parents Get It. That other moms are Jiu Jitsu masters, as their 2.5 yr olds sit quietly in the corner for hours, needle felting little bunnies and soaking up The Wonder of Childhood. Instead of, oh…you know…shooting raspy arrows of ear drum melting screams and alternating between using my legs as a punching bag and clinging to them like a life raft.
The biggest culprit contributing to my stress is a hyper-awareness around childhood development in the early years. As a clinician, I work with adults who, in one way or another, did not get what they needed as children…sometimes it leads to neurosis, sometimes it leads to trauma, always it points back to the impact of poor parenting. So you know…no pressure.
There are lots of methods, and the new crew of Unconditional Parents will swear that they’ve got doctrine. What I rarely hear mentioned is, what to do when the “methods” don’t work? It reminds me of the years that I spent trying to train my dog Leo out of his separation anxiety, door chewing and I Miss Mom barking. He did not respond like “the experts” said he would and nothing worked. What did finally work was to make space for him, to love him bigger, to love him more…and to take him with me wherever I went. Currently, what feels best with Fern is to let my heart grow and expand. I can’t figure out the proper responses, but I’m hoping that loving her harder in the moments when she’s being, let’s face it, atrocious, will be what matters in the long run.
Most of all, I’m trying to love myself, through long days where my failings as a parent (and sometimes as a person) would seem to be sitting on my face.
i do it for the joy it brings
because i’m a joyful girl
because the world owes me nothing
and we owe each other the world
i do it because it’s the least i can do
i do it because i learned it from you
i do it just because i want to
because I want to
everything i do is judged
and they mostly get it wrong
but oh well
‘cuz the bathroom mirror has not budged
and the woman who lives there can tell
the truth from the stuff that they say
and she looks me in the eye
and says would you prefer the easy way?
no, well o.k. then
and i wonder if everything i do
i do instead
of something i want to do more
the question fills my head
i know that there’s no grand plan here
this is just the way it goes
and when everything else seems unclear
i guess at least i know
i do it for the joy it brings…