Tag Archives: discipline

It hurts

I have still been mulling over this incident with DS and me becoming so frustrated and angry that I ignored him and forced him into his car seat.

I feel I have lost my mothering instinct. Up until now, it had been fairly simple to meet DS’s needs. As in it is easy to have a settled happy baby when I have had enough sleep, DS has had enough sleep and we are both in a baby friendly environment. I have not had to soul search too much about what DS needs – it’s fairly obvious. As soon as I accepted that DS’s needs were my responsibility to meet.

But now when he hits me, or pokes my eye or screams to avoid something, I am bewildered. I just do not know what it is that he wants – what it is that is being asked of me. For all I know he is asking me to play with him, bake something, work in the garden…. or maybe he is just saying he has had enough of something.

I have no idea.

On the one hand there is a part of me that is a little horrified that I am even trying to figure out what DS wants. The way I was brought up, it would not be important. I would have been expected to do what was needed in that moment regardless of whether I wanted to or not. There never would have been a discussion about it and my crying would have been ignored or even denied. And I do not think my parents did this because they did not love me. I think they believed that this is the way that children learn to be part of a family/society – cruel to be kind kind of thing.

So it hurts when I was told by my mother that I cried for 3 years most days after school (my father says this is not true – I cired from time to time, not most days). 3 years that I was left without a safe haven and no one to support me. It makes me want to weep for the child I was. It makes me rage at my parents. The cruelty that I experienced at the hands of the other girls in my class was not much compared to the devastation that my parents didn’t try to help me or find out why I was crying for 3 YEARS.

And this all brings me to what is happening in my life now as a mother. I never want DS to experience that lonliness or isolation that I did. Even if the world is not treating him well, I want him to have a safe place where he knows that he can be loved and accepted. BUT. How can I parent freely when I have this underlying goal? DS is a different person than I am, and he  will have different needs and challenges in his life. I do not think it is good enough to just prevent the pain I had. I want to meet his needs – be there for him, not my own ghost.

I am very cautious of falling into the trap of parenting DS in the way that I wish I had been parented. I do not want to parent out of a knee jerk reaction, but rather be left free in my parenting – free to meet the child in front of me.

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The car seat

I was more of this

I want more of this

I have been neglecting my blog recently. For a couple of reasons – the most pressing being lack of sleep. DS is pushing through his eye teeth, we have mosquitoes (that LOVE me) and I am trying to stop drinking coffee – which for some reason leaves me restless at night.

I also have been feeling a bit down. I had a rather traumatic incident with DS – nothing dangerous – just emotionally exhausting for both of us.

All my best efforts to avoid DS crying unattended were stretched when I found myself trying to get home from my LLL meeting, and him refusing to get into his car seat. On the way there, I had had to stop to breastfeed and had been late, making me slightly annoyed. Anyway, this DS not getting into his carseat opened a huge conflict for me. On the one hand I really needed the toilet and I was also hungry and on the other hand I had a child who was refusing to be strapped into his seat, arching his back and shrieking. I felt at such a crossroads as I had thoughts of “he is not a baby any more, his needs do not trump mine every single time” and “he obviously does not want to be in the car seat now, why?” and I gave in. I did what was easiest for me, and took us both off by foot to a cafe for lunch. While I was able to go to the loo and eat a sandwich, I was not happy to have gone so out of my way to get my needs met.

What was also troubling for me, was that I was getting angry at DS for not just agreeing to be in the car seat. Angry enough to force him into the car seat with rough movements and not so gentle words.

As I was walking to the cafe, I was thinking to myself that if I would just take a deep breath, it would help me deal with the stress of having an upset child, and it would help DS, as he would not be having to deal with the extra stress of a mother getting angry. This option held the promise of an easier time of it.

Only that it did not work. I could not keep myself level headed when again DS refused to get into his car seat. His crying really upsets me and my getting angry obviusly upsets him more. To my horror, I found myself just strapping him in and ignoring his cries and driving with a shrieking child who eventually fell asleep exhausted.

I really do not want a repeat of this incident. I know that this is just the beginning of me and my DS having to negotiate different situations where there is a conflict of interest, and I want to find a way that doesn’t leave either of us too fraught or traumatised.

I feel in myself the conflict of “he needs boundaries” “he needs to know who is in charge” with “how can I ignore his crying”?  I asked for some advice on MDC, and was given some good advice and mothers shared their experiences. A piece of advice that I am conflicted about it giving sweets/food. DH has proposed this as a way to get DS to comply – but I am not sure. Firstly, we don’t feed him sugar at any other time, and I am concerned I will have a hyper child in his seat. I also do not want him eating sugar for a reason, ie his health. And, I am not sure about giving him sweets as comfort. Argh, is all I can say right now.

Yesterday I did give him a rice cake and that worked well…..

I am sure we will find a way that works for us and is line with our values.

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Why bother?

I certainly do not have many answers and I am very much on a journey trying to find how best to grow my family. I have to wonder if it is at all important what happened to me as a child? Am I just making myself more miserable remembering the harder parts? My parents cetainly followed that route. If something difficult is happening emotionally, just pretend it isn’t and distract self with activity and positive thoughts. And this is many ways is how I expected myself to live as an adult. Until I became a mother. But why bother wading through all those hard memories?

I think it does have significance. When my child will not sleep and I am at my wits ends I long for that illusion of control that would come if only I could intimidate him into going to sleep. After all that is how I treat myself…. I intimidate myself to ‘not go there’. It is the way I know.

Does that mean that I am making a better parenting choice when I try to look at why it is so important for me not to intimidate, shame or manipulate my son to do what I need him to do in that moment in order to cope? I think so. If I had more tools at my disposal to deal with frustration, I think I would be a better mother/better me.

Today I did stamp my foot and raise my voice after the umpteenth time that DS giggled and slid down off the bed when moments before he had been definitly falling asleep.  And he got scared. And I knew that in no way would I achieve anything good with this approach. I do not want my child to be scared of me.

I am sure there are those who would argue that it is not that bad if they are a little scared, as at least he would do things when it suited me. I am not yet ready to instill fear in my child for lack of my own coping skills. I do not know if I ever will be ready, but it does not feel right.

I am his world, and together with his father, his everything. It seems too cruel to take that away. And yet it seems such a daunting task to find the tools to deal with those moments of frustration and surrender to them. I keep relearning this lesson of surrender.

I am so aware in the moment of my frustration that I need a ‘fix’ and need to bring the situation back under my control. I know it is an illusion that by stamping my foot and shouting it’s all better. I know that it is a quick fix and one that I cannot rely on.

DS, I am so sorry you saw your mummy shouting and stamping her foot. I was having a very rough morning and am stressing out about all the family coming for a birthday meal and I want it to be perfect. It is not your fault that I got angry.

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