I wouldn't say I was a bad mom, but not a super good one, either.
Today was filled with lots of frustrations, temper tantrums, destructive behavior, deliberate disobedience and general nastiness.
Actually, it wasn't that different than yesterday. Which, sadly, was not that different than Monday.
Before we left for our trip, I felt we had made some fairly good progress with Ben. Hitting was decreasing. Moods were improving. General cooperation was better. My mood was better.
After we got home from our trip, his behavior plummeted. I don't know if it's recovering from being on vacation and doing fun & exciting things every day. I don't know if it's the hand, foot & mouth he caught the week after we got back. I don't know if he's picking up on the changes that are coming around the house. I don't know if it's simply because he's nearly 2 & 1/2.
What I do know is that today I reached my limit. Today I snapped a lot. Today I spanked his bottom (it didn't help - other than to make me feel awful). Today we've had way too many time outs. Today we probably should not have finished out Tumble Time. Today has been filled with anger, frustration and tears (both his and mine).
During his nap, I decided to tackle reading a book a friend lent me probably two months ago. I'm not that far in - I let it get pushed to the back burner when his mood was improving and it wasn't as crucial to me to read it right away. Too bad for me, because I could have used that wisdom today. I opened to where I left off and this is the paragraph that was waiting for me:
There is no more ineffective method of controlling human beings (of all ages) than the use of irritation and anger. Nevertheless, most adults rely primarily on their own emotional response to secure the cooperation of children. One teacher said on a national television program, "I like being a professional educator, but I hate the daily task of teaching. My children are so unruly that I have to stay mad at them all the time just to control the classroom." How utterly frustrating to be required to be mean and angry as part of a routine assignment, year in and year out. Yet many teachers (and parents) know of no other way to lead children. Believe me, it is exhausting and it doesn't work!
This is an excerpt from Dr. James Dobson's "The Strong-Willed Child: Birth Through Adolescence"
Holy cow, could that have been more appropriate for my day? All day I felt angry and mean and frustrated. I'm sure Ben felt those things as well, so it's a vicious cycle perpetuated by one another. It is exhausting and it doesn't work.
I tell ya... there is absolutely nothing harder that I have ever done in my life than being the parent of a 2 year old. It's a daily struggle because every day is different. I thought having a newborn was work. Getting up at all hours of the night, dealing with new feelings and emotions over having something be so utterly dependent on you... that's not work.
It's hard, but there's only a few things a newborn needs. He either needs to be changed, to be fed, to be burped, or to sleep.
Yeah, those things might come at 2 and at 3 and at 4 in the morning, but it's not really work. It's just hard.
Being the parent of a 2 year old is also hard and it's also work.
Some days I'm exhausted.
And some days I snap.