Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 9: Chaos Strikes Again

I will choose to find a positive perspective under even the most negative circumstances.
I will choose acceptance over resistance.
I will choose to focus on the things I value about my children, not the things that drive me nuts.
I will choose to extend the same grace, love and forgiveness to myself that I try to lavish on my husband and children each day.

*sigh* We had our first major default since I started this project. It was ugly. And a great reminder of why I'm doing this. It has happened before, and it will likely happen again, but I feel more aware, more in control, and more capable of turning the bus around once we've started the wrong way down Positive Parenting Drive (it's a one-way street, you know). What would have usually ended up in a head-on collision was reeled in soon enough that I walked away with only a moving violation.

It had been a loooooong tough day. Jackson woke up crying because he was "sad that Daddy isn't here." All day we tried to talk through it, but he was struggling to transition from Daddy's full attention all weekend to Daddy gone at work all day. Understandable since Daddy's a pretty awesome guy. Our ongoing conversation went about like this:
Jackson: I'm sad because Daddy left.
Mommy: Why does Daddy have to go to work?
Jackson: To provide for us so we have a warm house and clothes and food.
Mommy: That's right. Does Daddy always come back?
Jackson: Yes. Daddy's coming at supper time.
Mommy: Daddy wishes he could be home now, but he'll come as soon as he can.
A few minutes elapse...
Jackson: I'm angry that Daddy left.
Mommy: Why does Daddy have to go to work?
Jackson: I don't want Daddy to provide for us.
Mommy: Does Daddy always come back?
Jackson: No. He doesn'tDaddy doesn't wish he was here. He won't be home soon.
Mommy realizes we're hitting a wall and further communication will be of no use.

You can imagine how the rest of the day went with a child who simply feels sad and angry about something neither of us (nor Daddy) can change. We couldn't reason this one away, he just had to feel it. I tried to distract him with his favorite activities, but when even playing in the sink isn't enough to bring the day out of the gutter, you can pretty much resign yourself to a tough day.

There was a pretty much a constant struggle between the two of us - he didn't want to do anything I asked, he didn't want to do anything else, he even peed in his pants three times because he wouldn't even go to the bathroom. Everything was just wrong in his world. I maintained composure all morning, even managed to accept his nap that was under an hour without getting upset, but by the end of the day he had worn me down.

We got home late from a grocery trip that shouldn't have taken so long (I can't wrap my head around how long everything takes when I'm carting two kids around by myself!). I was stressed over how late we were going to be getting to our supper, so I felt a little frantic as I put away groceries and started cooking. Max was in the exersaucer in the kitchen yelling (my baby doesn't cry, he literally yells at me when I'm not performing to his satisfaction), alerting me to the fact that he needed a nap and adding to the pressure I was feeling. Sound chaotic? It sure felt that way!

Jackson always picks up on my energy, and he's always profoundly affected by it. He started in complaining about Daddy again, and incessantly asking for things he knew he couldn't have (scissors, dates that are for dessert, to nurse while I was cooking). I was too involved in the whirlwind around me to look through to the deeper need he was expressing. I took these things at face value and denied him with no "yes" to counteract the fury that "no" can bring. Before I knew it, he was taking his shirt off (mind you he had already been pantless because of the three prior pant-peeing episodes) and crying in nothing but his socks because he wanted his shirt back on. Again, I failed to see through to the deeper need and simply told him he needed to "live with his choice" because I couldn't stop in the middle of what I was doing (which, by the way, was taking out the garbage - more important than my 2 year old's need for my attention and affection? I think not).

I had left him with no choice. He had to take even more drastic measures to get my attention. So he grabbed for the dates on the counter. I stopped him, moved them back and explained he could have them after supper. He grabbed them again, and I repeated, all the while with Max yelling (at me), the pan sizzling away, the groceries not yet fully put away, and the music that Jackson requested on. CHAOS! I can't take anymore chaos! He grabbed them one more time and when I stopped his hand he yelled "NO! NO! NO!"

So did I come down to his level, talk to him, sit with him...Nope. I yelled louder. "Enough! That's enough! Just stop! Pick that up!" pointing to the date that had fallen on the floor. As you can guess, this didn't lead to peace. It didn't lead to anyone feeling heard. It didn't lead to anyone feeling loved. It didn't even lead to "better behavior." What it did lead to was hurt feelings, more crying and complaining, and a whole lot of mommy guilt.

Once Nick got home, Max was put down, and peace was restored to our home I was able to once again model repentance while he practiced forgiveness. We talked about his feelings, his needs that weren't being met, my needs, and my feelings. We talked about why it happened and how it should have happened instead. We will leave it in the past and we will try to do better the next time chaos hits. Tomorrow is a new day. I guess we can't win 'em all...


  1. This sounds like the last two days around here. We're never as perfect as we want to be, but our children DO feel loved and we ARE good mothers, even if we don't always feel like it. Hang in there and hopefully tomorrow will be easier for everyone!

  2. I have to post as 'anonymous' but this is Megan.

    I read your post and thought 'hey- I've got a positive for you- thank goodness your husband works in wine distribution.... at least you can have a glass of wine at the end of a long day!'

    I distinctly remember my mom taking me to the liquor store when my 2nd was a baby. We started pulling bottles off the shelf and I said 'mom, is this really going to help me?!' and she said 'yes, honey, I think this might!' I got so stressed out sometimes! I still do, but now that I've been there, I know that the panic feeling will pass. When I have the second glass. ;-)

  3. Yep, we all have days like that. When we know we do it wrong but can't find the energy it takes to do it right (wait, does it really take more energy to do it right ? in the long run, no !). My worse scenario is that I usually don't see it coming. I'm that way with everything, I don't see it coming (be it tiredness when exercising, hunger, need to sleep...). So I'm a model of patience with the children, and all of the sudden, I explode. No warning, not even for me. No time to check myself. Sigh. The good thing is my patience is really good, so it does not happen often.

    I love the one way Positive Parenting drive. Ah ah ah ! So true. Thanks goodness they built this drive with lots of areas to make a U-turn !

  4. Thanks, Larissa. You are SO right! I've seen worse parent put out pretty awesome kids. ;)

    Megan, you said it! He cracked a bottle of bubbly for no good reason the other night and boy did I feel much less stressed. Perhaps a new nap routine that involves wine for mom...although some days require a mimosa for breakfast...haha!

    Murielle, if you don't see it coming at least you have an excuse. No such luck here! It's all a choice of self-control or not for me. But I do think the hormones rushing the brain when I get angry cloud my judgment a bit, so maybe that's my excuse...maybe that's a stretch...