Monday, October 21, 2013

Internal conflicts

No one tells you when you become a parent how many internal conflicts you are going to have daily, weekly, all the time! No one tells you that you are constantly going to wonder if you are making the right choices or saying the right things to guide your kids in the best direction. It's bad enough that before you have kids, you have to make so many decisions that affect your future good & bad. When you have children, you have to make decisions that will affect their future. That is a super scary thought for me. I don't want to be responsible for messing their lives up. I never know if I am making the right choices for my children... like what foods to feed them, what school to send them, daycare, routines, family time, time outs, tv time, organic or not organic, how to raise them both to respect themselves and others, how to make sure they have values & morals... and the list goes on and on. I see older mis-behaved kids or kids that have gone down a bad path in life - and I can't help but secretly pray that my kids will not turn out to be like that ... but how can I really prevent it? I don't know. All I can do is try my best. Maybe those 'bad' kid's parents thought they did their best too.

Lately I have had some major internal conflicts about how to handle my daughter's behavior. She is 3 and 1/2 years old ... and she whines A LOT. She whines and cries to try and get her way almost every time. She whines when she gets up in the morning, afternoon and evening too. She throws demands out there and tests us constantly. She yells she doesn't want me, she ONLY wants Daddy. Daddy daddy daddy. Daddy can do no wrong in her eyes. I know some of this is a daddy-daughter thing, but she goes way beyond that. It hurts my feelings and makes me so sad when she doesn't want me near her. I am truly starting to think I did something wrong to make her behave this way. I try to not give in to her demands and crying (to get what she wants) because I know it will only make her think she can do it again and again to get her way. I can't help but blame myself for her behavior some days like I caused it or did something wrong. Maybe I put too much pressure on myself to try and keep her 'perfect'. 

Some of Julianna's behavior totally stems from her jealousy of Tyler like when she tells Daddy to 'put Tyler down now' and hold her. When Tyler gets attention over her, she hates it. She does love Tyler because I see how she interacts with him daily, and I know she would never do anything to him.... however she is clearly jealous of the attention he gets and the time it takes away from her time with us. How long does this last for? I thought by the time Tyler was 5 months old, it would have subsided, but I guess not. Julianna doesn't act out as bad as she did when he was first born, but she does still have a lot of issues with him being here. I guess you could say she has her own internal conflict. No matter how much time we spend with her, it's still not the way it was before. Life has changed for her with the birth of Tyler, and she just has to get used to it. Heck - I am still getting used to 2 kids! 

Recently, we spent the day in the city with our friends and their 5 - yes five - kids. I was beyond amazed at how well behaved their kids were - and how easily they went with the day. Julianna was OK but not great. She whined & stomped her feet to get her way several times. She had a couple small tantrums and had an attitude when we tried to get her to do a few things she did not want to do. She refused to give up the stroller for Tyler when we tried to move him into it from the front-pack...which brought on another tantrum. So annoying in the middle of the new York City Subway platform with 500 people around you. I was so embarrassed and felt like I was "THAT" mom with "THAT" kid that everyone can't wait to be away from. I was talking to Brian on the way home and actually started to think maybe I (we) did something wrong. With that said, Tyler did great. He was in his carrying pack with me or Brian wearing him all day. He loved it. We had a very nice day all in all... will post about that another time. 

Brian and I had another (OMG!!) incident about a month ago where both kids were melting down at the same time (like REALLY REALLY SUPER REALLY bad) in a restaurant, and we had to get our dinners to-go and leave fast. We were there with our friends and I have never ever been forced to leave a restaurant because of my kids - It was my choice but no way was I staying there. We have been bringing Julianna out to eat since she was 3 weeks old. Same with Tyler. We did it so we could still have a life and go out with them - and we tried like heck to not be THOSE parents with THOSE kids. You know the ones. Oh wait, that is us! Ha! Then to top it off, some older woman said something to me to the effect of 'they moved their table because of my kids misbehaving'. I was in 'block-out' mode at that point because of Tyler & Julianna screaming. I felt like everyone was GLARING at us and cursing us under their breathe. 
I was beyond mortified. I couldn't pack up my stuff and grab our kid gear and dinners fast enough. I did not even hear the old lady comment until my friend who was there told me later what she said. (p.s. my pregnant friend went and told off the older lady after we left - Kudos to her!). Mind you we were in a super-kid-friendly place too. Even the owner came up to us outside and told us he felt so bad for us and asked if there was anything he could do. 
We will go back there... it's one of our favorite places to eat ever. But I have to tell you, I am a little traumatized and it might take a while to work up the nerve to go back. I am still traumatized. 
All I wanted to do was leave. I was so so embarrassed for my kid's behavior. I know Tyler can't help it, but Julianna was super-exceptionally terrible. I am talking top-o-the-lungs screeching & screaming - the blood curdling kind where she clinches her fists, turns red, screams & shakes! Kill me now. I know some of this is normal but maybe it's not. Nothing feels normal when she pulls that stuff. I'm just so conflicted because this is so difficult and I really do not know how to handle it sometimes other than praying for the earth to open up a hole and swallow me up. I have such patience with Julianna some days, and other days, I want to run away screaming (sometimes I do scream & yell too). Internal Conflict. Some days I think I have it all under control.. and other days I feel like my entire life is unraveling because I feel like I have no control over anything. 

With all this said... There are tender moments that I have with Julianna that wipes the slate clean for me. She will hold my hand unprovoked or tell me she loves me or snuggle with me... It makes it all worth it. I will end it with the fact that I love my husband and my children more than life itself, however sometimes I need an outlet to vent about bad days we experience & feelings I have. I am only human right?! 

We went apple picking a few weeks ago ... 
These are the times that make the "bad restaurant" day even out.

The girl loves her apples 

 This is how we roll.... in the apple orchard 

Tyler likes the hayride.

Hmmm ..... Which one 

It takes time & patience to pick the perfect apple.


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  2. My children are adults now, girl then our boy and wow does your post bring back memories! It does get better, and I think all your internal conflicts are what makes a great parent. Of course you worry, am I doing right by my kids, that never changes but things will get easier, right now you're smack dab in the middle of baby land mixed in with a full dose of crazed 3 year old!! Try to relax and tackle one thing at a time, it looks to me like you're doing an amazing job!!

  3. You are not alone. I know the start sweating and your heart is racing with would trade almost anything to make the moment stop. I go into black-out mode, too. It's like I have blinders on and I can't really hear or see anything clearly. I've been talking to a lot of parents Juliana and Chloe's age recently...some with new babies, some with older children and some that have only children. We all seem to be having the same issues. I think the tantrums are a big part of their age...not that you should tolerate it. I would have reacted the same ways you described (i.e. leave the restaurant, etc.) It's good that you question your decisions I think. It's what makes you a good parent. You learn from your experiences...after all, we are still learning to be parents. Just remember kids are very resilient. If you don't like the way you handled something one day, you'll have another chance to get it right. & ignore the haters...

    P.S. I think the daddy thing is an age thing, too. Try not to take it personally. I know it hurts. I'll have to go through it with two girls...I'm pretty sure the teenage years will be nothing compared to this. haha. Hang in there!

  4. Kylie has started asking for Daddy all the time or telling me how much she misses him. She even wakes up at night and asks for him instead of me. I think some of it, is that she is with me most of the time AND he lets her get away with more. It does hurt me sometimes, but then there are moments where she tells me I'm her best friend and that just melts my heart!

    Obviously I haven't had to deal with 2 misbehaving kids at the same time, yet. Chad and I were just talking about it this weekend and wondering how it was going to work going out to eat with 2 little ones. We took Kylie to a small, local Mexican restaurant when she was only a few weeks old and have been taking her everywhere since and she usually does great. I haven't had to leave a restaurant with her, but she has had some moments where I thought we might have to leave. I have had to deal with tantrums other public places and am always embarassed, but do my best to get away as quickly as I can without causing too much disruption. One time that I can look back on and laugh at now.....We were leaving The Children's Museum at the same time as 2 other friends, they are all around 3. All 3 girls started having a tantrum as were leaving. I was dragging Kylie through the parking lot, ended up having to carry her. The other 2 were trying to carry their kids and ended up getting bit. None of us were happy, but afterwards it made us feel better to know that others are going through the exact same thing as us. I think the tantrums are this age and maybe the whining also??? I tell Kylie I'm not going to talk to her if she whines so then she whispers. She doesn't understand what whining is. She's also an expert at turning tears on and off and has started it with one of her teachers also. She knows it works and that people will give her what she wants to keep from having a breakdown, I hardly ever give in, unless we are somewhere that a tantrum just can't happen, then I wait until I get her out and let her have it!

    I tell her all the time that she is lucky she is so darn cute!

    As for questioning your decisions, I do the same. I worry about everything I decide and do regarding Kylie. I want the best for her and I worry about her growing up and being a brat. At the same time, I worry that I am way too hard on her at times and expect too much from her. Oh, that makes me think of another reason I think she is a daddy's girl, Daddy does way more for her than I do.....for example, he always carries her, I just can't carry her all the time. She doesn't even ask me unless she really is tired, but she always asks him to carry her.

    Sorry, I wrote a book and my ideas were all over the place, just didn't want you to think that you were alone.

  5. You are not alone! You are human and allowed to feel impatient and frustrated. Taylor was the impossible child at restaurants and it was like nothing that I had ever experienced with Jacob. I too left many restaurants with Taylor in tow (ok, under my arm like a football) while someone else packed everything up and met me in the car. When I say everything, that was baby bag, bagged my meal in a to go container, etc. My quick escape consisted of total silence and probably a red face from the embarrassment. I felt like if I did anything else at that moment I would be condoning her behavior which was horrifyingly loud and impossible. So my point in telling you this is because you are NOT alone and those moments made me question what I had done wrong. Really there isn't an explanation, you can be doing everything right and she is just in a phase right now.

    Even recently I find myself questioning if I am doing enough with each of my kids separately, together, as family - having three of them is a juggling act. My little guy demands a lot of my time and is by far my most challenging toddler... today I found myself thinking about how to prepare him for the new baby. I am totally stressed out about it because I know how he is when I am speaking to another adult, let alone having another baby that needs attention.

    Today I needed a third arm just for my little guy at the deli to peel him off the floor in the midst of a meltdown with a gallon of milk in one hand and a bag of other grocery items ... My husband always says that Jack is like a different kid when it's just them. I can only chalk that up to my asking more of him than my husband. After all, I am home right now and have to get through the day with other errands and chores to get done. I have routines and consistent demands (sounds harsh) I place on my little guy to teach him things throughout the day which I am sure you can relate to.

    Anyway, this too shall pass. Hang in there.

  6. I'm so jealous of your apple orchard trip! The closest apple orchard to us is like 2 hours away--for some reason, they don't grow in Houston. ;(

    And internal conflict is what makes you a great mom!! It's so totally normal to second guess yourself all the time! Discipline is such a hard issue too! My kids tend to throw more fits when they're up late--a few weeks ago both Harry and Ryleigh were screaming and Kaia was about to melt. I turned to her and said, "Wouldn't it be crazy if all 3 kids were crying at the same time!" She gave me a look, said, "No!" and marched away to let me deal with the younger two. I felt lucky. ;)

    One thing that has helped us a bit is to take the kids on special dates. We try to give each kid a "date" with each parent about once a month. They love the one-on-one time and I've noticed they're more... ahem... compliant afterwards. ;) You guys probably do similar things...I just thought I'd throw it out there. ;)


  7. Not being a parent, I can only sympathize and wonder how parents get through this period. However, I'll say that my 3 1/2 year-old neighbor has tantrums, has since he was 2. It's a bit amusing that he now articulates what he is upset about, "I'm not going. I don't want to go," and he always wants to go with his father, even to throw out the garbage. His older sister also had tantrums at 2 and 3, but she hasn't for quite awhile, thankfully. The father, who stays calm, and doesn't get rattled or angry, just reasons with him calmly, seems to get him to settle down.

    One observation is that as with your daughter wanting to sit in the stroller, which the baby sits in. That sounds like a reaction to his being the baby, and getting a lot of attention and that she is regressing a bit, which I hear happens a lot when siblings are born. Also, her baby brother has health problems, so he gets even more special attention, and she sees this and is reacting. It takes a long time for some children to adjust.

    Friends of mine have spent quality time with their older child individually, either one parent taking the older one on special excursions, or both doing
    something special, giving her quality time alone, after a younger baby was born.. That seems to help.

    A friend of mine who was beloved by all, children and adults, used to say to her then-young daughter, holding out her arms when her little one was having a tantrum (and this without a younger sibling), and say "Fly into my arms," and she'd hug her. She never got flustered or angry at her, but comforted her.
    I don't know how she did that, it was amazing. She just refused to get upset.

    I don't know if that's realistic, but it worked for her.

    As I said, I'm not a parent, just an aunt, friend and neighbor. I'm sympathetic though.

  8. I forgot to say that aforementioned 3 1/2-year-old culprit was yelled at a few weeks ago for hitting his older sister, who is 7. Yesterday, I
    heard him crying, and his sister reprimanded. So, there are definitely dynamics.

    I meant to say that, as always, the photos and children are beautiful, their clothing so nice and bright -- and the sunglasses -- glorious.

  9. Such wonderful comments from everyone - I wanted to reply to all so I'll do it here - instead of individually ... {Sorry - lack of time!!!} And sorry it took so long to get back to you all. It's such a hard time to go through for all - but the funny thing is, we'll have a few good days and I think "OK maybe the worst has passed" - HA! My husband and I coincidently took this "Emotion coaching" class at my daughter's preschool (they offered it for free!) this past Tuesday night. It teaches you how to deal with preschoolers emotions and how to talk to them on their terms. It's a 5 step thing and mostly common sense but it makes you realize some things you might have been doing to help encourage meltdowns without knowing it - Such as being dismissive. Like if Julianna yells over & over she needs a band aid (like she does every day for no reason - she just likes band aids) - I would say "No you don't need a band aid - get over it, let's go watch tv" LOL. Apparently I won't be getting nominations for mom of the year for that. You aren't supposed to dismiss or change the subject. Apparently it makes it worse and long term makes them not open up to you. Wonderful. Anyway so this emotion coaching teaches you how to handle silly little things like the daily band aid request or waking up cranky, etc. I have to tell you, KNOCK ON WOOD, that it is working. Brian and I are shocked at how well Julianna has been doing b/c we have changed our approach to her! That 2 hour free class was worth a million bucks. Nothing is perfect of course... but it sure did help US to understand her mind & thinking.
    As for spending time alone with her - we do try to do that when we can. It's hard since we both work full time. But for instance, my husband had to go somewhere this morning and he took Julianna with him - She is in her glory that she got to go with Daddy. She comes with me to the food store to pick up the groceries & loves it. It's not a whole day but it's something. We did whole days this summer when we alternated time off with Tyler... she loved it. Going from one to two kids is a hard balance to achieve for everyone - it takes much longer to adjust than I ever imagined. I guess all parents have conflicts ... we all do. You just have to learn how to make the right decisions and not let it eat you up - and hope that you do the right thing!

  10. It sounds like great ideas are coming from that class, and they're working.

    I guess the universal need to be listened to, validated, heard applies to children, too. That is a good lesson for all ages, too.

    Another thing I'm reminded of by reading this post is that the 3 1/2 year-old neighbor discusses with his father why he should go with him
    whenever his father goes out, like to work, etc. When he was littler, he'd just yell and have a tantrum if his father didn't take him. Now he
    gives arguments and has long monologues about why his father should take him. Yesterday, he convinced him to do so. I hear him
    asking to go with his father to take out the garbage just down the hall. It's amazing how much they need to be with their parents.
    I learn from these children all of the time.

    Things sound good.

    1. Oh yes, you said it 100% - Kids need their parents more than they can ever understand. Today we were in a small showroom and Julianna was playing with the toys they had there for the kids - I was about 40 feet away looking at something (but I could see her) - She yelled out "Mommmmy" - And all she needed was to see me and hear my voice - and she went back to playing. THey just NEED us. Granted she needs Daddy way more than me most times - but I will take what I can get. :)
      3 and 1/2 year olds have the funniest explanations for things too - I can only imagine what your neighbor's son says haha. Julianna makes us crack up with some of the stuff she comes out with. She told us the other day she needs to get a "Glow Pet" (kind of like a pillow-pet that glows in the dark) so the owls can't get her at night in her room. Owls? Really?

  11. I saw my 3 1/2 and 7 year old neighbors and asked them what they're going to be for Halloween. The older one said simply, "a witch." The littler one said, "a subway worker," and ran and put on his hard hat with light on top -- and, of course, turned it on. After a back-and-forth about subway workers, he then asked me, "and what is Kathy going to be?" I hemmed and hawed over that, and said, that I'd be a reader and carry books around.

    Have a fun holiday. I'm stocking up on chocolate, because it is always a good idea to have a good supply of chocolate.

    1. You and my mother can both be the same thing for halloween ;) ... and its always a goood idea to have a good supply of chocolate!!

  12. Just catching up on my email and blog reading! We all go through the same things, I think. I think you and I are similar in that we don't want to have "THAT KID" ... I even have thought to myself, "My child will NOT be a brat." I want her to do what she's told, when she's told and I don't have a lot of patience when she doesn't. But I have to remind myself ... it shouldn't be my objective to control her. Of course public meltdowns suck ... and it's not behavior that any of us encourage ... but the child is going through something - "big" emotions for little kids ... and we need to try to guide them and help them through it. Believe me, I am in no way lecturing you as I need to learn to do this myself and I am FAR from it - LOL!! Just some stuff I have read on the subject that makes sense to me. :)


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