I’m having a bad parenting day. My day started out with promise, but has quickly gone south. And before I delve into the details, I must note that the hardest part of parenting for me right now is the immediate thought that I have no business having another child if I can’t control the one I already have. I find myself stunned and almost hysterical when A misbehaves because I have no, and I mean NO experience in handling or disciplining children. I’m totally and completely learning as I go. I also find myself embarrassed (seriously, I blush) when it happens in public and I have a noticeable belly. I feel like I’m being judged by everyone in the store about how I can’t handle 1, how is she going to handle 2?
Up until very recently, I assumed I was doing a good job. Then, about a month ago, my child morphed into the toddler I’ve always dreaded. She’s found her own voice and realized she has the ability to say “no” to things she doesn’t want to do. This is sometimes ok, as I usually give her options, but when it comes to her behavior in public I expect her to do exactly as I say, when I say it. And I expect her to act on things she’s already learned. If she has to learn a new behavior, fine, but 99% of the time, she knows exactly what’s expected of her.
We put A in dance classes over the summer, mostly just to give her something to do since she wasn’t in school. There were 6 classes and while the 1st one had a dim outlook (I spent most of the class sitting on the floor beside her) the rest of the classes went great. She was excited about class, willingly participated and begged to go back each time class ended. She was excited about starting classes again today, even picked out a brand new leotard on her own that we went back and purchased for her last night. I showed up expecting no resistance and a really fun experience for her. My expectations were totally off. She didn’t want to go into class without me. Once there, she wanted to play on the floor, bang on the walls and be a general nuisance to the rest of the class. About halfway through the first part, she finally showed some interest in participating so I snuck out. Only to find her bawling a few moments later. One of the instructors had A in her lap and she calmed down, so I stayed outside the room. The girls come out halfway through the class to change from ballet shoes to tap shoes. A ran out smiling, asked for her tap shoes, and ran back into class yelling, “Bye Mommy!” I thought everything was fine. About halfway through the tap portion of the class (which she kind of did her own thing instead of following directions) I noticed her wiping her nose. And of course, a few minutes later, she’s playing with a sticky booger on her fingers. I wasn’t 100% sure it was a booger since they were doing the Itsy Bitsy Spider song, but I grabbed a tissue in case. Now, here’s where I *think* I messed up. I didn’t want to barge into class to clean her nose. I’d already been in the class once and there are 3 instructors and maybe 9 girls. More than enough to come ask me to clean her nose/face. In no way do I expect them to do it, but they’re running the class (I wanted to respect that) and I figured if she truly was playing with a booger, and not trying to do the hand motions to the song, they’d come get me. As I’m having this internal battle with myself, I see my child push a little girl beside her. I was stunned. As if that wasn’t enough, I watched her, twice, scoot next to this same girl and sort of bump her out of the way. I was horrified. I was the only parent that had to sit in the class, my kid is the one wiping snot all over her face and playing with a booger and now, she’s the class bully. I just knew I was getting death stares from all the other moms. I was frozen. I wasn’t sure what to do. My first instinct was to blow through the door and march her little butt right of there and into a corner. I really didn’t care how much of a scene it caused. My child has never, that I have witnessed, pushed, shoved or hit another child. I don’t know if this is a learned behavior and maybe she picked it up at preschool (I plan to ask on Thursday) or the church nursery. Whenever we’re at a play ground or play area, I always have eyes on her. I also always tell her to “play nice” and she’s often the one hugging other kids. She’s not naturally a bully. And if I witness this behavior again, she will forever fear the wrath of her mother. I will not stand for pushing, hitting, shoving, biting, not physical aggression of any kind. Now, again, I was waiting for one of the 3 instructors to step in, but they didn’t. Looking back, I really doubt they noticed. And to be honest, I didn’t see what happened leading up to the little shoving incident, the other girl could have very well done something to A. Not that that makes it ok AT ALL. About the time I was going to drag her little hiney out of there and put the fear of God into her, one of the instructors came to tell me we needed a tissue. I pulled her outside and cleaned up her face. Something was wrong; she immediately said she wanted to watch TV and she wanted her blankie and bottle (she uses an empty bottle as a pacifier…never took a pacifier but picked up an empty bottle about 18 months and hasn’t let go since, sigh). I was beyond pissed at this point. I asked her about the shoving and she didn’t really respond…no surprise seeing as how she’s only 2.5. Just kept insisting she wanted her blankie and bottle and wanted to watch TV. After I cleaned up her face I tried to get her to go back into class, but that wasn’t happening. So of course, a small battle ensued when I needed to put her tennis shoes on her and she decided to sprawl out on the floor instead. Once she was finally changed, I hung my head in shame as we left early. I’m so embarrassed, I’m beyond pissed and I’m at a complete loss. We’ll be trying class again next week and hopefully things will be fine. She whined the whole way home about wanted to watch TV, to which I told her absolutely not. That led to a meltdown once we made it home, where she ended up in time-out and then got sent to her room screaming and crying about TV. She finally calmed down, we read some books, she played on her own a bit, we had lunch and I’ve put her down for a nap. Hopefully the afternoon will be better.
The hardest part of all of this is feeling like a single parent. I think most stay-at-home-moms feel this way. You deal day in and day out with the same shiiit. It’s the same battles, over and over again and there doesn’t seem to be any improvement. Even if you and your spouse talk regularly about your day, there’s no way to share all the details and all the feelings you accumulate throughout the day; and you hesitate to really tell them everything because you don’t want to add to their stress or give them the impression you’re about to jump off the roof. Add to that a traveling husband and now you really ARE a single parent. Aside from having to earn an income, it’s allll you. There’s no one there at night to help take over. Even though the Hubs and I generally speak quite a bit when he travels, it’s not the same. He’s really only half-focused on what’s going on at home, which is fine. He’s got business to do, meetings to attend, clients to visit. I want him focused on work – he needs to be successful at his job. Hell, half the time he’s in a different time zone. I’m very fortunate to have family that offers help constantly, but I don’t like feeling like my child is away from me more than she’s with me. In fact, I could have very easily called my mother in law this morning and dropped A off for the remainder of the day. However, I feel it’s my duty as a parent to ride these kinds of days out. I’m not playing the martyr, but I need my child to understand that even when there’s discipline involved, she still has a mother that’s going to be there for her. I feel like it would send the wrong message if every time I was frustrated with her I shipped her off to her grandparents. Some days I find myself resenting the Hubs and all of his traveling. I know he says he’d rather be home, but between the nice hotels, dinners out and peaceful evenings I have to admit, the grass does seem greener on his side. I feel like there is no way he can possibly understand what it’s like to be the main parent. It sucks sometimes. I’m the bad guy, I’m the one with the frazzled nerves, I’m the yeller (even though I really don’t want to be a yeller), and I’m not the “fun” one. I’m the one charged with keeping order around here. Maybe it’s just that I’m feeling really depleted lately. Physically feeling like a big, steaming pile of crap for the past few months is starting to take its toll on me. I’m feeling like a bad mom (because of this sudden shift on behavior), and I’m feeling like a bad wife. I’m not feeling particularly appreciated in either of those roles. And seeing as how those 2 things make up the majority of my current purpose in life, it’s really difficult to be feeling inept at both of them. I’m feeling completely lost when it comes to this whole parenting thing too. And I think she senses the self-doubt and uses it. It’s similar to animals sensing fear. My kid scares me a little bit…especially when I don’t know how to handle her. It probably doesn’t help that I’m feeling particularly anxious about Earl today, too. I think I can feel my hormones raging. I guess it’s time to break out the Doppler. Damn. Today started off as such a promising day too.