“I have no patience with my little kids.” I hear you. And here’s how I’m managing.

Do you have no patience with your little kids Me either. Here's how I'm managing.

Patience is not my virtue. And that makes being a parent of small children really tough sometimes.

Part of my patience deficit is the irritability and anxiety that go along with the depression I am managing right now. Part of it is the utter lack of sleep I get because of Grace’s sleep issues. Part of it is just me.

I love my kids. They are wonderful, darling, kind human beings. (I feel it’s necessary to issue that disclaimer before I complain about them.)

However, my kids are not easy going in any way, shape, or form. And you know what that means:

Irritable, sleepy, patience-deprived mom + clingy, needy, high-maintence children = mama on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Man, do I wish I could be one of those moms who doesn’t lose their temper on a regular basis. And I wish my kids could occupy themselves long enough without fighting or whining for me to fold some laundry, do some dishes, play on Facebook, send some important emails.

But they can’t. Not quite yet. So for now, if they are home and I really need a chunk of time to cook dinner, de-crumb the kitchen floor, or just, you know, breathe, on goes the TV.

GASP! It’s true! I let my kids watch TV for more than 20 minutes at a time!

Whatever works, people. We’re talking about my own sanity here.

But you know what? I think it’s going to get better. I really do.

Because something occurred to me the other day. No, not occurred to me. Hit me like the proverbial bolt of lightening.

WHY in the WORLD do we moms feel like we have to be good at every single stage of childhood?

When our little kids irritate us, we beat ourselves up over it. We think, shouldn’t we love them and all their “isms” when they are babies, toddlers, preschoolers? Shouldn’t we have endless patience for them because they are our precious little punkins, our flesh and blood, our babies?

I say NO.

Think about it: Some child caregivers adore babies, some go into early childhood education, some teach grade school. These people choose to work with the age they connect best with.

As parents, we don’t get to choose what age we want to work with.

So I think it’s unrealistic to think that just because a kid is our kid, we’re going to be naturals at parenting at every stage of their existence. We’re going to be great at some stages and not so great at others. We need to ease up on ourselves, people.

And since I am finding that my lack of patience is not easily conducive to being a good parent to young kids, I have been making changes. And they’re working. I am:

  • Taking meds that help manage my irritability
  • Seeing a therapist who gives me ideas on managing my kids
  • Working out twice a week
  • Not being a full-time SAHM: I work 2.5 days/week
  • Getting a sitter 4 hours/week for me time and/or solo errand time

Maybe as my kids get older my patience will increase. Or maybe I will need to do most or all these things for the rest of my life with kids to be a more effective, happy mom.

Who knows. All I know is that things are getting better because of the things I’m doing. So I’m gonna keep doing them. And it’s really helping me to both ease up on myself and be a better mom.

Are you having a hard time with the parenting stage you are in? What are you trying to make it easier?

Sleeping kids are good

photo credits: Alex really doesn’t want to be at Filene’sTime for a napCrying at dinner – Day 331no dinner = no dessert = heartbreak – MG 1168.JPG; all via via photopin (license)

Back on the prowl and putting on the moves: Mommy dating

Uncertain glances. Hesitant smiles. Some perfunctory small talk as you feel each other out.

The end goal? A real first date.

Playdate, that is.

It is with some nostalgia, and yes, some nerves, but I am throwing my hat back in the ring. It’s time I got back out there and into the world of mommy dating.

I am actually a seasoned mommy-dater. It took a while, way back when Anne was little, to find the right match.

I frequented the popular singles-bars of mommy dating (playgrounds and libraries), looking for the right connection. After some promising sparks I had a bunch of completely miserable first dates.

But in the end, I did connect with not just one person, but a fabulous group of mom friends. Score!

Our kids were young. We were sleep deprived. And we were all looking for the same thing: real, cool, normal moms to hang out with.

Oh, how I adore these ladies. We vent about our kids, tell our life stories, and have a grand old time together. We get together with kids and without kids. These are real, true, stick-together friends.

But now our kids are older and we all have different schedules. No one’s around on the two mornings a week that Grace is home with me. We still get together, but less often with the kids and more on our own.

I know that two mornings a week with nothing planned will get more than a little boring in the long winter months. Having a friend or two to get together with would be nice.

So I guess it’s official: Grace and I have flipped our social status to “looking for a new relationship.”

But this time, I’m finding the world of mommy dating is even more complex.

The first time around, my kids were young enough that they weren’t choosy about their playmates. It was really about the mom-to-mom connection.

But now? Grace is three. She’s got a personality. And so do I. Which means we’ve moved on to double dating. If it doesn’t work for both of us, it’s just not gonna happen.

And the other shocker: I have been around such real, normal moms for so long – both in real life and online – that I forgot how many moms are still so UNREAL with each other.

And I think – no, I know – that when I’m doing the small-talk thing with these kinds of moms, they’re shocked by how honest I am. Which is fine, because they’re saving me from wasting further get-to-know-you time on them.

For example. Holiday break is over. Back to school, dance classes, and so on. I’m chit chatting with another mom and she asks the perfunctory, “How was your vacation?” question.

My answer?

“LONG.”

And the way a mom reacts to that answer tells me whether or not I have any desire to continue speaking to her.

The looks I have received have been telling. One of confusion. One of wide-eyed silence. One of smug judgement. And one of complete and total understanding, accompanied by a conspiratorial laugh.

Guess which mom I spent an hour laughing with during our girls’ dance class?

She’d be a kick-arse mom to hang out with, but her younger kid is boy and they live kind of far from us. Sigh.

Could’ve been so beautiful, could’ve been so right…

Wish us luck at the library next week. I hear it can be a bit of a meat market.

 

 

 

 

 

Linking up with Elleroy Was Here!

elleroy was here

Will my 3-year-old kick butt on her report card?

Yes, my 3-year-old gets report cards. New England is competitive, didn’t you know? We start tracking them early here.

Can’t tie your shoes by age 4? Not destined for greatness. Reading Dr. Seuss fluently at age 4? Great potential for Phillips Exeter.

Ok, so I exaggerate. A little. Because in Grace’s case, the report cards are more like photocopied assessment-type things. They evaluate whether she uses her manners, recognizes letters, and doesn’t throw too many blocks at other kids’ heads.

But back in the fall when I was looking over Grace’s little report card, I realized something with horror.

I was looking for the “bad” marks first.

I wasn’t looking to see what she had accomplished. I was looking to see what her teachers thought she wasn’t accomplishing.

And this is when I also realized I was channeling my dad.

I started thinking about the days when I dreaded getting my own report cards. Not because I thought I did poorly. But because I knew when my dad saw them, I’d feel awful, no matter what I accomplished.

I always felt like I was never good enough no matter how hard I tried. “That’s great you got an A-, but I thought English was your best subject. Why not an A?” “A 3.6 GPA? Why not higher? I thought this was an easy semester for you.”

My dad was a complicated man. He was a genius. He came to this country from Hungary at age five with nothing except his family and a few trunks of clothes, not speaking a word of English. Twelve years later he went to MIT on a Fulbright scholarship. But his collegiate career didn’t go the way he wanted it to go, for many, many reasons. And he never graduated.

I understand now that my dad wanted me to have everything he didn’t. He was, in his way, trying to get me to always try harder, keep doing better. He just wanted me to succeed.

But his tactics didn’t mesh with my personality. I just wanted some recognition of how hard I was working. How much I accomplished. What I was doing well. I didn’t feel I got that from my dad until I was an adult. I always felt not good enough. And I don’t want to do that to my girls.

I want them to know how proud I am of what they achieve. Focus on the positive, and then when the time is right, discuss what can be done to help them improve in areas that need improvement.

I’m sure it’s easier said than done. But that’s my goal. And given my lineage, it’s probably going to be hard for me.

So this time I will fight the hereditary urge to look first for what needs to be improved on Grace’s report card. And I will remember to give my big, proud girl a big, proud hug.

Then, in a secret, sound-proof room, Hubs and I will dissect the report card, course-correct where necessary, and devise a brilliant plan for Grace’s path to Harvard.