When their parenting reflects yours

When their parenting reflects yours February 12, 2011

I’ve felt like a bad mom the last few weeks. I’ve run out of new and exciting ideas to be interactive. My kids and I are stuck in a rut of cleaning, reading, cartoons, and baking.

Between the cold and the snow, and the head colds and fevers, we have been stuck in the house for what seems like forever.

I’ve found myself being short with the kids, trying to get them distracted long enough to retreat into my own little cocoon of boredom, not even trying to come up with an interesting dinner, we can just have spaghetti again right? As I look around the messy house, filled with bored runny nosed children changing their clothes or going potty again just to break up the monotony, I start to wonder if any of the efforts I’ve made in my parenting changes matter. Sure I stopped spanking my kids, I’m learning how to be positive and encouraging, I play with them and read to them. But does it really make any difference?

For every breakthrough, there always seems to be a setback. The laundry is piled sky-high, not because I don’t have time to do it, but because I didn’t want too. We picked up the toys, again. But they are scattered all over the floor, again. If I have to read “Mr Brown can Moo can you?” one more time, I think my brains might start draining out of my ears. In the face of exhaustion and monotony, it’s easy to start feeling like a failure

One afternoon, I was tired. It was 4 o’clock, and I had no idea what to make for dinner. My 4 year old was whining about needing yet another snack and it was starting to get on my nerves. “No snack” I repeated, “we are going to eat dinner very soon.” I told myself to get off the couch, but I was starting to fall asleep. A moment later I woke up and noticed Ms Action standing in front of the open fridge. Instead of getting off my butt and closing the door myself and maybe getting her a drink to help with her hunger issues, I yelled from the couch “I said no snack! Close the fridge!”

Ms Action dissolved in whines once again and the fridge door remained open. I’d had it. I stormed off the couch and slammed the refridgerator door and screeched “STOP WHINING!”

Instantly I was overwhelmed with discouragement. What was wrong with me? I’d blown it again. Yet again, I had ended up yelling at my kids. Why had I lost my patience over such a stupid reason? Why hadn’t I just dealt with the problem in the first place instead of whining back at my whiny kids from my seat on the couch.

My kids stood very still and looked up at me. And then Ms Drama said “Are you angry mom? It’s OK to be angry.” She patted my leg and said “You need a hug?”, then she wrapped her arms around me in a bear hug. As I crouched down to hug them both, and apologized for yelling, I realized that she was saying and doing the same things I say and do when she is upset. She was mothering me, copying the mothering I’ve shown her. She was showing respect for my feelings because I make the effort to show respect for hers.

The changes in my parenting DO make a difference. My kids are learning compassion instead of judgement, acceptance and gentleness instead of punishment.

At that moment it was easy to remember all the times I’ve used positive gentle parenting in the last few weeks. Yes, I’ve been bored, we all have. Yes I’ve felt sub-par, we’ve all been sick. Yes I’ve lost my patience and yelled. But I have wiped noses, given baths, and rubbed chests with vapour rub. I’ve made dinners, filled sippy cups, and washed laundry loads of favourite dresses and pajama’s. I’ve cut out paper snowflakes, made cookies and built block towers. And when Ms Action woke up in the night several nights in a row, instead of spanking her and sending her back to bed I took the extra 20 minutes in the dark to give snuggles and sips of water and reassurance that I was still there to take care of her even in the middle of the night.

Each positive change IS worth the effort. And despite the times I don’t measure up to my ideals, every effort does make a difference.

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