This is the hardest stage of parenting I’ve faced so far. And I have found myself feeling grumpy a lot lately.
My almost 4 year old (let’s call her Big Sis) is developing a little bit of an attitude. I absolutely love how smart she is and how she is starting to really be able to reason through things. A lot of times she’s able to express that she is angry and sing the song from Daniel Tiger “when I feel so mad and I want to ROAR, take a deep breath and count to four…1…2…3…4.” But other times she yells and pushes and screams and slams doors. She whines a lot and sometimes chooses to ignore what I’ve asked her to do or argues about it. And although she plays beautifully with her sister half the time, the other half the time someone is whining, yelling, hitting, crying or fighting over a toy.
My almost 2 year old is just nuts right now. She is so smart and hilarious and adorable, but she never listens. Well, maybe not never. Maybe she’ll listen 1 out of 20 times. Not a very good ratio. The past two weeks have been especially difficult. Little Sis (yes, I am really creative with this fake name thing) has been running away from me a lot. Twice she has made it into the road while we were playing with bikes in the driveway, despite adults being in the yard with her. Scared me to death and now she’s not allowed in the front yard at all, which means she no longer gets to ride bikes. That’s a bummer for her, but safety is more important. At stores I have to buckle her into the cart, screaming, because she doesn’t want to be there but if I let her out she messes things up or runs off and refuses to hold my hand.
As I’m writing this I am remembering some incidents like this with Big Sis. It wasn’t as bad, but she definitely went through this stage. I remember not ever letting her get down at a store because as soon as she thought that down was an option, then she’d get upset. I guess it’s just harder with Little Sis because Big Sis is allowed down sometimes and she wants to be like her sister. After all, Big Sis is older and listens and stays with us really well, she should get to be allowed to get out of the cart sometimes and help me get groceries. That’s hard on Little Sis.
Anyway, parenting is challenging right now.
But it’s always something, right?
And that’s what this post is about. I just need to remember not to let the things around me determine my attitude and behavior.
Just because because my kids are acting in a frustrating way, does not mean I need to act frustrated. In fact, when I tell them to stop or I’m going to tickle them, or I yell in a funny way when they are yelling, or I do some other thing that makes them laugh….things actually get better a lot faster.
Just because I’ve had a really rough day, does not mean that I get to demand things from my husband when he gets home. It would be amazing if he would sense that I had a hard day without me having to say anything and that he’d just jump in and help without me having to ask. But when that doesn’t happen, I should not start asking him to do things in a demanding, entitled way. He’d be happy to help if I was sweet about it, if I saw things as a favor instead of a right.
Just because there’s a lot of whining, a lot of disobeying and a lot of little sibling squabbles, does not mean that I have the right to act grumpy. Children need to learn that just because they are angry does not mean they get to shove or hit or scream. The same goes for moms and grumpiness. Feeling grumpy? Understandable. Acting grumpy? Affects everyone around us in a negative way. We can try to do things to help- take a nap, talk to a friend, cry to a husband, put the kids to bed early and take a bath or read a book….whatever. Sometimes those things don’t work out, that’s part of being a mom, and we need to just do the best we can.
This all is pretty obvious from a Christian perspective…Jesus loves us all and has patience and grace for us even though we mess up over and over and over. (Doesn’t mean we remember to apply it in our own lives!) But even if you aren’t a Christian, the truth is, happiness is a choice! We cannot let ourselves be victims of our circumstances. We get to choose our attitudes and find ways to be joyful no matter what is happening in our lives.
One of the easiest ways to change our victim mindset is to stop being so consumed with ourselves and how we feel.
My children were screaming a lot…..that made MY day difficult so I need a break. BUT WHAT ABOUT MY CHILDREN? They were the ones crying. Could it be that their day was difficult too? What do they need? If I was feeling tired and grumpy, maybe I didn’t play with them much, or if I did I wasn’t into it and they felt that…maybe they need more quality time with me. Do they need to get out of the house? Do they need some one-on-one time with a parent without their sibling? Little Sis is sad to be stuck in the cart, so maybe there’s something I can do to make sitting in the cart more fun.
I love my family. And even on my worst day, I would rather be doing what I’m doing than living some other life. I am so thankful and so blessed. During the times when I am tempted to allow myself to act grumpy I want to remember to breathe (like Daniel Tiger!) and laugh (because laughter always makes things better) and be thankful. I want to remember what I am trying to teach my kids…to control my emotions rather than letting my emotions control me.
I read this blog post yesterday (How Not to Be Disappointed on Mother’s Day) and I just loved it and wanted to share. Check it out. More food for thought 🙂
Happy Mother’s Day !
P.S. The photo used in my little Breathe. Laugh. Be Thankful thing was taken by Tiffany of Tiffany Photography. This particular photo is not the best quality because it’s been shrunken and stretched and changed in Paint for my purposes but she does a great job. Check her out.