On hard parenting days
All week we had planned on going to see a magician at our local library. At some point, shortly before we needed to leave for the library, my darling son decided he no longer wanted to go. So he put on his shoes in between crying and stomping, I physically moved him out the door and we headed out.
In the car, he was suddenly “unable” to put on his car-seat straps. When we finally got to the show, he watched the magician with his arms crossed over his chest and a scowl on his face. Of course at some point he decided hitting his sister would be more entertaining than a man making things disappear.
In response to the hitting, I moved him to sit in front of me, where he then proceeded to sit facing me with his fingers in his ears and his eyes closed. This only stopped every 5 minutes or so when he would ask if we were leaving yet, and then right back the fingers in his ears.
You guys: by the time we got to the car every muscle in my body was tense and I was breathing deeply. I was exhausted; it was like running an emotional marathon.
This is what days are often like with my strong-willed boy — a constant battle of wills that I am slowly learning how to disengage myself from.
Some days I succeed. I respond with consistency, consequences and grace. When we got home from the library, I kissed my son’s nose and told him I love him (even though what I really wanted to do was not see him or deal with him for a few hours) and he smiled like all was right in the world, and said he loves me too.
Some days I fail miserably. I respond with frustration and anger. I let the exhaustion win. I engage in a battle of wills and in the end, while it might seem like I won, I haven’t. Not in what really matters. I want to win his heart.
Parenting, especially parenting a strong-willed child, is a marathon. It is exhausting and often feel like we are just not making progress as fast as we want it to. Progress is being made though, sometimes we just can’t see it.
In the meantime, I am also learning I need to take care of myself or I won’t have a proper perspective. Going out with a friend when my husband gets home, taking a bath, reading a relaxing book, getting enough sleep — whatever it is that can help me feel refreshed means that when I do it all over again tomorrow, I am not starting out already depleted. So take care of yourself and realize on your hard days that you are definitely not alone.