Remember the first moment you knew you were going to become a parent? For most of us it was filled with excitement and happiness. For a few, it was a time of surprise and anxiety. For me it was a hugely happy moment. I got a call at work from my doctor’s office telling me my test was indeed positive and I was going to be a parent. I squealed with delight and called my husband and had never been happier. After a night like tonight with my boys, I look back on that day and wonder what the h— i was thinking!
We have a routine every night. Mairen is too old for all of this hooha but the boys thrive on it. At 6:30, the boys straighten up their stuff, put toys away, get their folders ready for their backpacks and then we settle in and watch a half hour of a dvd. We usually watch old stuff like ‘Green Acres’ or ‘Gilligan’s Island’ or ‘The Brady Bunch’ and occasionally a ‘Suite Life of Zack and Cody’ or ‘Drake and Josh’ and then the boys head upstairs to take their showers, brush their teeth, take their nightly meds and then we can read together or snuggle until 8. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? It usually is. Tonight however…..
Every Tuesday Mairen and Kevin are gone for this ritual at Mairen’s clarinet lesson and usually things still go without a hitch. Tonight though someone replaced my boys with exact duplicates who were actually their evil twins! I had entered a soap opera and didn’t even know it! They dawdled and disobeyed. They refused to get ready for bed or shower. They goofed around and yakked their heads off and it seemed as if the more sternly I talked the worse it got. Finally I lowered the boom. I told them that they had a choice: either be ready for bed by 8 or give up their evening video for a couple of days and no reading after 8 for a week and then I promptly left them and went into my room. As I lounged on the bed, I just got angrier and angrier. Not only were they not getting ready for bed, they were having fun! How dare they! They were laughing and chatting and I sat in the other room feeling like an absolutely impotent parent. My threats meant nothing! Their desire to make Lego battleships outweighed their desire to please me! What sort of lousy parent was I anyway? Finally at 8:05 I strolled into the kids’ bathroom as if I had just been happily reading and announced that they had clearly made their choice and that their privileges were revoked. A big part of me wanted them to be upset and beg me to give them another chance (which I wouldn’t have but at least it would have proved that I was still the one in control here) but instead they just shrugged and finished getting ready for bed as I stood there glaring at them.
Several things about tonight ticked me off. First, this sort of thing NEVER happens with Kevin. That just ticks me off. Second, I hate it when I am not in control. Not that I am a complete freak about it, but times like this just tick me off. Third, I really hate getting angry, especially at the kids. A therapist would have a field day with all this but that’s just the way it is. I feel that I have failed if a situation with the kids results in getting angry with them. How stupid is that?! Sometimes they actually deserve it! Sometimes they are actually making choices that break the rules or disrespect me or WHATEVER and yet I am the one who feels guilty when the situation goes awry. Tonight though I was just ticked off at their disregard. No guilt.
Hey, maybe that’s progress…..
Hold the line, follow through, and know you aren’t the center of the universe and each day will be your best!
Molly O’Shea, MD Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center