Parenting is hard.
Now that we’ve all collectively nodded and agreed, I want to talk about why I feel motherhood is especially hard, and tips I’ve learned. Of course, I realize that all parenting is hard, but since I’m a mother I am pulling from my own experiences here.
I have three children that are ages three, nine and twelve, and raising them plain sucks at times. To be clear, I have a husband to help, but he is currently stationed in a different state (and for various reasons we stayed behind), so I’ve been on my own with them for quite some time. Add in the year 2020 and things can seem impossible at times, especially in trying to find ways to be creative and make things better for them. We have taken miniature (safe) adventures, done fun activities around the house, created special movie nights, swimming adventures, dance parties, socially distanced races with friends, and the list goes on. But, that doesn’t stop kids from acting out and it doesn’t stop me from feeling like a failure.
Just a brief disclaimer: my kids are incredibly kind and caring, smart and wonderful people. They are, typically, well-behaved and do what they’re asked. As long as they aren’t with me.
All of you mothers will understand what I mean. Around me they are consistently being sneaky and lying. They don’t want to listen and they don’t want to help me out around the house either. Now, of course I remember doing such things as a kid, though not to the extent of mine (ask my own parents if you don’t believe me!). So, how do we teach our kids that their behavior should be consistent? And why do kids feel like their mothers don’t “deserve” their best? Is that why they choose to not put their best self forward around us? And what do we, as mothers, do to remind ourselves that we are doing the best we can?
I personally have heard it a ton of different ways, but the one that makes most sense to me is the concept that children believe their mothers will love them no matter what and so they feel safest around them. This gives them the freedom to express their feelings and not feel like they have to hold themselves together when they’re barely able to anyway. They are still learning and trying to understand how to process their emotions, after all. Why this equates to treating your mother like crap is beyond me. But alas, the older my kids get, the more they behave as though I’m a mere inconvenience to them.
So what do we do when our kids have gotten crafty and sneak around behind our backs? Do we follow the age old adage of “kids will be kids”? Do we encourage them to always put their best self forward? Do we punish them? Do we give them a taste of their own medicine?
I think the correct answer lies solely within the parent(s).
I personally have tried yelling (let’s be honest, I tend to lose my shit often), grounding them, taking their electronics away, positive reinforcements, calmly explaining things to them, getting on their level and really listening to them, etc. I have tried everything I have been taught, or read about, or just personally thought of. I don’t have the best advice for you, because I’m still learning things myself. What I will say is that from my experience a blend of tactics is what seems to help the most. With my own children, they don’t respond well to yelling, though they don’t answer after the first 15 times I ask in a calm voice so, you get what you get. They do respond to having privileges (and electronics) taken away, so long as it’s followed by me really explaining the reasoning to them, and then listening to their thoughts also. Of course, positive reinforcements are also a big thing with them, which is how they got the tablets in the first place. I also often draw from my own childhood experiences. I remember a time when I was 11 and I got grounded for the entire summer because I kept doing things my parents had told me I couldn’t (or shouldn’t). My window overlooked the street below and I ended up sitting and watching my friends have fun without me. Talk about a bummer. I quickly learned that being grounded was no fun and that sneaking around was only going to make it worse. Today though, it’s much easier for kids to sneak around, especially when it comes to electronics (not huge when I was growing up). It’s hard to teach kids the dangers of such things when you know that they’re going to follow their friends regardless.
I’m no expert, and in fact I often feel quite like a failure, but I keep trying to do my best. There are moments I’ve broken down in tears because I feel so awful, but I am always reminded of how great of a mother I am despite my own thoughts (thank you for that, Mom). I was also reminded recently that sometimes children need more than one “mother” and we should surround ourselves with whatever tribe of amazing women we can to help, especially in the moments we feel the worst. So, thank you April for being such a great influence and “second mom” to my own children. Moms, please try to remember that these times are fleeting and these moments do not define an entire existence. I think that’s the best any of us can do. Keep pushing forward and encouraging kids to understand right from wrong; and of course to be the best people they can be.
I just want you to know you’re not alone here. My children are pretty darn good kids, and I’m proud of them for the way they are. Do they sometimes make me feel like crap? Absolutely. Is it right? Hell, no. But at the end of the day they’re being the kind, polite, and respectful young children I’ve raised them to be out in the world, and sometimes that’s the most anyone can ask for.
I have linked below some of my favorite parenting sites, if you’re interested. (I don’t receive anything if you click the links, but I can’t say the other site doesn’t.)
Happy November everyone! Keep doing your best out there.
- A super versatile and popular website that covers a broad variety of topics: https://www.popsugar.com/family/
- Another versatile and popular website covering a range of topics: https://www.scarymommy.com/category/parenting/
- Just because I’m not a father doesn’t mean I don’t believe they know what they’re talking about: https://www.lifeofdad.com/
- I also love checking out IG and Facebook profiles of more humorous parenting like “The Holderness Family”, “Kristina Kuzmic” and “Meredith Masony of That’s Inappropriate”