If patience is a virtue. Than I am one depraved woman. I get all jittery waiting for Internet Explorer to open. I don't need coffee because my brain is usually ramped up and ready to go, go, go!!! It is not something I am proud of. Actually, I am quite ashamed of this inherent tendency. So, in an effort to fight my God given nature, I deep breathe and listen to mindfulness Pod casts by Buddhist monks.
Recently, I had a big fat mirror held up to me. My mirror is about two feet tall, weighs 37 pounds and goes by the name Alena. See, writing this blog for the last year, having moms email me for advice lured me into thinking that I had this whole parenting thing under control. I had this false sense of security that I was doing a good job. Ha! Ha! And triple Ha! My little mirror started throwing tantrums, kicking, spitting, screaming doozies that would leave me feeling queasy afterwards. I could feel them coming on like a bad storm. I could smell the rain in the air before the clouds started rolling in. Then I would look up at the dark grey sky and says, "Yeah, we are in for one hellava storm and I don't even have an umbrella." I could bare the storm for about 20 minutes or so. Then I would hit my breaking point. Once that would happen the real maelstrom would hit.
It all came to a head in the Jewel parking lot. I carried out my red faced screaming child, as sympathetic old ladies smiled at me, because I wouldn't buy her a new My Little Pony. I put her in the car and shut the door. She ran around the car pulling stuff out of the bags screaming like a wild banshee. I tried to stuff her stiff as a board body into her car seat. I drove two blocks home with her twisted sideways, partially buckled in, hanging out of her car seat, and screaming her head off. Something had to give. My nerves were frayed, as day after day, I tried to balance my work around her emotional outbursts.
As a 21st century parent, I turned to books and the Internet. My husband found Scream Free Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool by Hal Edward Runkel, LMFT. Okay, here's the deal with most parenting books they address the kid's behavior, not the parents. The bottom line is if you want calm kids, you have to be a calm parent. The first chapter is titled,"Parenting Is Not About The Kids, It's About The Parents." The second is "If You're Not Under Control, Then You Cannot Be in Charge." And the third is "Growing Up Is Hard to Do, Especially for Grown-ups."
We create our family systems. If our kids are out of control it is a systemic problem of our family and of our parenting. Not the other way around. The third chapter really got to me. It was a hard pill to digest. I am the grown up. And I have to act like one. Even if the tantrum goes longer than 20 minutes. As the parent, I don't have the luxury of kicking and screaming. It is my job to keep it together. Because I am the foundation of our family system. The shift in my thinking changed my little one's behavior.
I had to also change my priorities a bit. My job as a mother supersedes my other "jobs." That is my first priority. I had to focus and draw attention to all the good things she was doing, not just the negative stuff. Like, going pee on the potty. We were getting to the point where the only interactions between us were managing her tantrums. Not fun for either of us. Now I am making a concerted effort to spend -- here it comes..."quality time" together.
It is also about mutual respect. Our kids are people. We need to respect them as people. And, they aren't the only ones going through growing pains either! We are too. Being a parent challenges us to grow, change, and adapt in ways that are beyond comprehension. Once I realized I was the one with the problem. You know what happened? That wild banshee. I haven't seen her for days.