There are a few things currently on my mind that I’d like to talk about, but life is life and it seems I’m always busy with other things. So, I get to play the game of which topic should I discuss at this moment in time. The winner is aptly titled: Sad Mom.
A couple months ago I was talking with Shaylyn (or rather, in full honesty: gossiping) about someone we know. I was expressing how it seemed she was always angry or frustrated and always yelling at her kids. In her defense, she has quite a few and they are all fairly young. I was contrasting that with another mother that we know (also with quite a few kids) who always seemed happy and upbeat and disciplined her children calmly and quietly. Now I know that no one knows exactly what goes on behind closed doors and the perceptions I have can be completely wrong. I’m just saying what I see and explaining the story. After I was done talking, Shaylyn simply said, “Well you’re always sad, so what’s the difference?” (In regards to the overtired mother)
I was shocked. I had nothing to say. I had no response for her. I just stood there. My mind was going a thousand miles a minute and the one thing Eric had been asking me many different times over the course of a very long period of time was, “Do you really want your kids to think that you were always sad?” Or something to that effect. My answer was, of course, “No.” And I thought I was doing my best to hide it from them, but I realized in that moment that I had failed.
The other kids may not have noticed quite like Shaylyn did as she’s always been able to pick up on subtle (or not so subtle) things, but even with only one of them noticing – it was still a ‘failure.’
After that discussion I had told myself to try harder to be happy (at least in front of the kids) and though I wasn’t doing great, I felt I was doing and getting better. But life can sometimes suck and for every step forward you take two steps back.
Such was the case in the month of June.
Before I get to that, perhaps I should give a little more insight as to why the situations in June affected me the way they did.
I’ve been around kids my whole life. I was the third of 7 and so I had a lot of experience with babies and little kids. I also had the luxury of getting Mom or asking my mom what to do. Most of the time she took over (as she was the mom), but a few times I learned a thing or two. I joke that I raised my baby brother as he was born when I was 15 and taking care of him was fun to me.
Flash forward to when I had Tanis. I felt prepared. I knew there were things that would come up that I didn’t necessarily KNOW, but there were enough people around me that I could figure it out. Tanis was a fairly easy baby, all things considered – especially with what I know now. I do remember crying when he was fairly new though because he wouldn’t go to sleep at night. I don’t think I would’ve been quite so stressed if we weren’t in an apartment. The added stress that having neighbors brought was not a good thing for me. But all in all, it didn’t last that long and like I said he was an easy baby.
And with each kid came a little bit more ease and peace of mind. I wasn’t as uptight when Shaylyn came along and felt super grateful for the neighbors we had with Lex. The rest of the kids were born when we had our own home and there was a peace about not having neighbors sharing a wall.
Neighbors weren’t really my biggest issue, however. My biggest issue came from family members. And it wasn’t family members who KNEW what they were talking about (i.e. the moms). It came from family members who HAD NEVER even had kids, but they seemed to know EVERYTHING there was when it came to parenting. And everything I was doing was completely WRONG. And because I was so young, I apparently knew NOTHING.
Have you ever watched your child be spanked by someone other than your spouse? It’s pretty much horrible and it happened twice to me, by two different family members to two different children. And guess what…One of those time the kid was smacked by someone who didn’t understand the full situation and thought it was their place to discipline MY child for crying….And here’s the kicker…my kid was crying because he missed his Daddy and wanted to go somewhere with his Daddy. He wasn’t doing it to be stubborn or obnoxious. He just wanted his Daddy. Worst part was we were on vacation. Eric had the car. I grabbed my kid (left the other kids where we were – not my finest moment, but I was ANGRY) and walked to the place where we were staying. The other situation may have been ‘called’ for, but it definitely NOT that person’s place. Once again, I took my kids and bolted like a bat out of hell. Oh, and did you realize these both happened at a time when Eric wasn’t around? Yup, they didn’t dare do much if Eric was around, but if I was alone – they let loose.
Why is it so hard for people to let me discipline my children in my way? I don’t think it’s healthy or right to discipline them harshly and definitely not physically in front of other people. But that’s me and you know, what do I know?
Anyway, so after enough time I let things blow off and while I try not to live in the past and I feel like I forgiven in most situations, it’s hard to forget.
It was never in my plan to have a large family. For awhile (in jr. high and high school) I wasn’t even sure I wanted kids. Then I decided I only wanted a few. By the time Eric and I got married we kind of settled on 4 because he wanted 3, but I had a thing with odd numbers. (HAHAHA!) Heavenly Father knew better and blessed us with our wonderful 7 and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Because I have a low self-esteem, one of the only things I feel I am ANY good at is being a mom. I feel I do especially well when they are babies. Perhaps because they are fairly predictable and there’s not a lot in that department that surprises me anymore. And through the years I’ve learned a few things, changed a few things and adapted different techniques. I know what works.
Also because I’ve been blessed with 7 very different personalities, I KNOW there is NOT one single way that is RIGHT on how to parent a child.
And that’s the problem we have/had. Everyone else thinks they know the best ways to parent MY kids. One of my biggest pet peeves is that everyone is an expert on how to handle an issue with any given child. Um, hello, no! What you don’t know is that I’ve been working on these issues with my kids and I’m doing it my way and in the way I think best benefits that child. Just because it’s not the way YOU would do it, does not mean I am WRONG.
This is where I get hung up. There are so many naysayers in the family (sad, but true) who pretty much seem to get their thrills telling me where I’m going wrong. I don’t ask for advice, they just like to hand it out. Most of the time I want to tell them to go to hell and leave me the *bleep* alone. But that’s not who I am. So while in my head that’s the phrase I’m screaming, I sit there quietly and nod and let the negative sink in. And my negative me is extremely negative. And I tend to hold on to things that have been said/done for years on end. Things most of these people probably don’t even remember saying, but you can’t take back what’s been said or how it makes someone feel.
And what these people (family, remember) have done to me is tragic. They have taken away the essence of my whole being. They’ve taken away my belief that I am a damn good mother. They’ve taken away my peace of mind. They’ve put more stress on my husband, who has to fight tooth and nail to put back everything that was taken away. They’ve stripped my children of the mother they SHOULD have and the mother they truly deserve. In their effort to help my children, they’ve negatively impacted them. All my children get to see now, is a very frail version of her. One that breaks anytime I should remember things of the past, anytime some new situation arises that isn’t handled well and anytime a bigger issue comes up that I do my best to handle, but all the while have that damn voice telling me it’s wrong, it’s not going to work and so and so will really have something to say about this.
What anyone says really shouldn’t matter, and I can usually let the stupid things strangers say go. But when it comes from family, from the people who should be helping and lending an ear and those who should really just care about the results, and not the way the results happen. Or even offering non-solicited advice, it just hurts. I DON’T NEED YOUR ADVICE! I’ve had enough of it to last a lifetime. I just want some reassurance or you know, some empathy. And it really hurts that I don’t get that. I can count on one hand the number of family members who’ve never tried to solve my problems or who’ve given unsolicited advice. They are the same people who are fighting for me and not against me. I wish I could say that was everyone.
So back to June. Within a 2 or 3 week period I had two experiences happen from the same person and it pretty much shattered me to my core.
The first one – we were at a family gathering and there were cupcakes. My 2 year old was doing his best to eat this cupcake and try to stay where he was. I was in the next room (open concept here, so I had sight on this boy) feeding the baby and getting him to sleep. A family members comes along with the broom and starts sweeping right under these kids’ feet (another kid and a cousin were also having a cupcake). This person tells the kids to move, so they go sit on the top step (laminate floor). Next thing I know this person is yelling at me like I’m 10 years old and like there’s a fire. Apparently my 2 year old was wiping his fingers on the carpet of the floor and the walls. And of course, he was doing it on purpose! His whole plan was to paint this persons wall and carpet with frosting. Anyway, because Eric realizes I have the baby and he had just fallen asleep (person who yelled at me was oblivious to this fact) and takes care of the issue. An issue that wouldn’t have even been an issue had said person let the kids finish the stupid cupcakes before they decided to clean! Hello, let’s use our brain here.
The second issue happened the day of my grandma’s viewing, of all freaking days…
We were at the same place waiting until it was time to go to the viewing. Because I did the video, I needed to make sure I got there early enough to get it started before people started arriving. Eric was going to stay with the kids and come a little bit later. He got all the kids piled in the car and took them somewhere until it was time to arrive. I got in the car with the people I was going with and prepared myself for the journey.
I need to back up a bit….
We have a child that has an issue with the bathroom. This child is old enough that it shouldn’t be an issue, but they have it. It’s an issue we, as parents, are aware of and have tried many MANY different things to ‘fix’ it. It’s still a work in progress. So this child sometimes leaves little balls of poop wherever they’ve traveled. It’s gross, yes and I’m sick of dealing with it. But we’re working on it and we have to be sensitive to this child at the same time.
Anyway, just before we leave – said person finds the trail of poop. And instead of asking us to clean up or something to that effect, he just goes off. So as soon as Eric hears what happens, he takes the child aside and has a very stern conversation with him. The person’s response: “A lot of good talking is gonna do.”
So then we all get in our vehicles. This person gets into the vehicle I am in and starts going off. They make a statement of “I’m so sick of it.” In my head I want to scream, “You’re sick of it? What the heck do you think I DO on a DAILY basis? This is the hell I get to live with DAILY. I also know that this child is sensitive and everything we’ve tried has yet to work. I don’t even come to your house very often and YOU’RE sick of it!” This person is still going on, “Have you taken him to the Dr.?” I am trying to remain calm and not make a difficult night even worse, so I say nothing. The response, “You’re quiet gives me the answer.”
Going to the Dr. isn’t quite so simple. I have a spouse who doesn’t suspect the issue is something a Dr. really needs to be seen about. He feels the child is stubborn and will eventually grow out of it. (He has more recently said that a dr. might be okay, just so we can get a rx to make things a little easier for the kid) So, I didn’t want to go against my husband. Plus, when you’re depressed (again, another story for another day) it’s difficult to do and go ANYWHERE (I haven’t even been to my Dr. since the baby was born).
I finally can’t take it anymore and start yelling back. I don’t even remember at this point what I said, but I remember I have NEVER been so furious with anyone as I was with this person. I wanted to yell at this person and ask why they even cared so much because when they were raising children they didn’t really get involved in their children’s lives and left everything up to their spouse. But, I didn’t.
We drove in silence the rest of the way there. My dear sweet baby sister (who had the unfortunate experience of being in the car) whispered all the words I needed to hear as we got out of the car that night. I am blessed to have her in my life and maybe she needed to be there for my saving grace.
So until we work out this issue with my child, I will not be returning to this person’s home. I hope they can at least respect that, but I have a feeling they won’t even realize why. And that’s almost worse.
Shortly after this falling out, there was another family gathering planned. A gathering which we had agreed to attend when it was planned out, but as the time grew nearer and situations changed – Eric and I felt super uneasy about attending. This made the person who planned it out quite upset and I understood why they would be, but they put no effort into understand the place and position I have been it. I knew it wasn’t mentally healthy to put myself and children in a position where another issue might happen and I just felt like something would.
I want to protect my children and I will do my best to do so. And I’m sorry if that interferes with anyone else’s plans or lives, but I have to do what’s ultimately best for us. And I don’t regret that decision in the least.
What I need to focus on right now, at this moment in my life, is being the happy mother that my kids deserve. They work so hard and are pretty great kids and they deserve a mother who can show them that they are wonderful. They need to know that I’m not sad BECAUSE of them. I wish they could understand it’s the PEOPLE around me causing my sadness, but they can only understand that I’m sad and I know at least one of them is taking on a lot of guilt thinking it’s from them. THAT KILLS ME!
So please, tell the mothers that you know out there that they are doing awesome (I need to do this, myself). That they are doing great things for their children. That their children are just right for them. You never know who needs to hear it. I am so thankful for the friends and a couple of extended family members who let me know, on a consistent basis that I’m doing okay. I love them for that and I don’t think any of them REALLY know what it’s done for me. So if you are one of those people, thank you so much!!!! Please keep doing what you’re doing and help me be the happy mom I know I can be.
I found this on Facebook a few days ago and it’s the push I needed to make this post!