Friday, January 25, 2013

Carry On

There is no way I will ever be able to express how much it meant to me to receive the outpouring of support, encouragement & advice after my last post. For two months, every tantrum & every time Elena hit me, every night she would fight sleep, each defiant behavior was magnified…I’d created this unattainable parental standard…it all had become so big in my head...I’d allowed myself to become so overwhelmed by it all…I had lost sight of any successes we’d had.

As soon as I hit Publish, I felt a weight lift from my chest…when I woke up that Wednesday morning to your comments, I cried…& cried & cried. I felt a renewed sense of confidence…I’d gained a new, more realistic perspective…knowing Elena’s behavior isn't abnormal…the realization that I was already employing a lot of your excellent advice…

It was also that Wednesday that I hear this song for the 1st time:


If you’re lost and alone

Or you’re sinking like a stone

Carry on

May the your past be the sound

Of your feet upon the ground

Carry on

Oh sure, I know it’s not about parenting & is a bit dark but the chorus just…uplifts me. By no means have all of our troubles been resolved…I still don’t feel like I deserve a World’s Best Mom mug quite yet…but we’re making headway…we have as many successes as we do setbacks but I am trying to measure myself by the success, not the setbacks & of course seeing them as setbacks instead of failures was a good first step.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

That Was a Lie

Okay, maybe not an outright lie…not a bald-faced lie…bigger than a little white lie though…really more a lie by omission…a misleading truth if you will…

What am I talking about? In my last post when I wrote that the predominant emotion for 2012 was Confidence…that was misleading…when I was looking back over the whole year, I struggled to pin point one emotion…2010 & 2011 were so easy to define…but 2012, it took a lot of thought…I wrote numerous variations before settling on Confidence & hitting publish, substituting many emotions & explanations.

The cause of this indecision is the last 2 months…it seems that Elena has taken the term “Terrible Twos” to heart as it feels like she’s gone bat-shit crazy since turning 20 months. These last 2 months have taken the Confidence I found in the first 10 months of 2012 & obliterated it.

It feels dishonest to me that I haven’t blogged about it before now but it’s been a slow burn building. I was so caught up in planning our trip then sharing about our trip…I didn’t want to mar my Christmas posts with negativity…plus the Sandy Hook Tragedy really walloped me when I was already feeling so emotionally fragile.

I was (and still am) really scared to write about it all…I don’t want to admit out loud what I’ve already concluded in my head…but it’s killing me keeping it inside…and yet I sit here & still just can’t make my fingers type what I need to say. It’s part of my personality to always put on a brave happy face…try to paint every situation in a positive light…tell people what I think they want to hear…I’ve been more honest here on my blog than I ever thought myself capable but even as I reread past posts, I see where I didn’t fully reveal how I was feeling or hid behind sarcasm giving a post a lighter note than what I really felt.

I have to be brutally honest now because I really need support & I need advice & I need encouragement & just admitting those things is almost as hard as admitting that…I’m failing as a mother. I’m failing Elena & I’m failing myself. It’s killing me. The only thing I ever deeply & desperately wanted was to be a mother. I was so sure I would be so good at it. Being a mother has made me feel complete. Being a mother has given purpose to my life. To realize that I’m failing is killing me. Elena deserves better. I love her beyond comprehension & that is how I know that she deserves better than me. If I’m doing so poorly now, how are we going to get thru the next 2, 5, 10, 18 years.

The Issues

She’s hitting still…mostly just me…we were doing really well for so long…until 2 months ago…she hits usually out of anger or frustration but often, out of the blue, for no discernible reason at all. Like the other night: I just got her out of the bath & was drying her off. We were playing a variation of peek-a-boo with the towel making crazy faces & she was laughing hysterically. We were having such a great time, face to face, both of us laughing…then she smacks me…HARD…right across the face. WHY? It hurt my heart more than my face for sure but why would she hit me? When she hits out of anger or frustration I get that…it’s not okay & I tell her so but I get it…why does she hit me in the midst of fun? Nothing I do, no technique I try, seems to impress upon her that hitting is NOT okay….that is our worst issue.

She fights going to sleep at night. She fights it with every fiber of her being no matter how tired she is…aside from all the delay tactics & shenanigans prior to settling down, once she’s drifting off, she’ll literally shake herself, shake her head to wake herself up. I suspect that this is a manifestation of separation anxiety since she knows that 5 mornings out of 7 I’ll be gone when she wakes up. It got worse after us being away together for a whole week & now again after I was home over Christmas. I tried the “Super Nanny Technique” (that’s where I learned it) where I put her in bed, tell her good night, kiss her & leave. When she gets out of bed the 1st time, I tell her good night & walk her back to bed…the 2nd time & subsequently after that I just walk her back to bed without talking to her (theory is she’s looking to engage me & by refusing she gets the point)…it did work & she put herself to sleep in bed but in the last 2 months, it’s become a game that she can keep up for hours (7-11pm or longer) at which point I am exhausted & just want to go to bed myself. I have tried putting her to bed earlier, based on the theory that she’s over tired, to no avail…Since we don’t use a crib, I’ve even tried putting a gate on the bedroom door & attempted CIO. I couldn’t…I just couldn’t. I tried cutting out her afternoon nap, which worked in that she conked out at bedtime but she was a grouchy horror show between mid afternoon & bedtime, she really needs that afternoon nap…though I am strict in only letting her sleep 1 hour & never past 2pm or else we’re doomed for sure at bedtime. Some nights out of pure exhaustion I just go to bed with her which isn’t a habit I want her to get use to either…not that it works anyway & I’m sure that I’m asleep before she is.

She is purposefully disobedient. She does things she KNOWS she’s not allowed, touches things she KNOWS she’s not supposed to…I know this is not unique to Elena, that all kids do this…but no amount of discipline seems to get thru to her…& there’s another issue, the frustration I have with the lack of discipline options I have for her age. She’s too young to understand long term punishment, there has to be immediate consequence. I can’t wait until she’s old enough to be given time out & understand it…how awful is that. I do use positive encouragement, catching her doing good things & heap on the praise, telling her how proud I am when she listens or obeys or asks nicely, etc. It does seem to have an effect & gives me hope.

The bottom line is my patience…its wearing thin. Don’t think I’m giving up, I never will. I will always keep going & trying to do better. It’s just that I feel so defeated that all the techniques & ideas I had about this phase aren’t working. I’m frustrated that I can’t reason with Elena. I’m hurt that she lashes out at me even when we’re having a good time. I’m ashamed that I lose my temper with her.

Now that I’ve written it all out, the issues seem so much smaller than they did in my head. But that doesn’t change how badly I’m dealing with it all. Why can’t I get thru to her? Why can’t I make her understand? Why doesn’t anything work? I’m failing. Am I a bad mother? No, absolutely not. Am I a good one? It doesn’t feel like it.