I've been wondering a lot lately how it is that I can nanny like I'm Mary Poppins, but I can only seem to parent like Rambo. I hate it, but that seems to be frighteningly accurate.
With the little ones I lovingly refer to as my loaner babies, I am all snuggles and lullabies. My method of discipline is giving time to "think about it." I don't lose my temper, but I'm still able to uphold boundaries and encourage acceptable behavior. Limits are set and reinforced firmly, but I don't get frustrated.
Then my real babies (they're still babies, because they'll always be babies) come home from school...
No matter how calm I try to be, I find myself leaving a trail of scorched earth behind me as I parent my way through the evenings. I really don't mean to, and it doesn't happen every day. But it happens. It happens more than I would care to admit.
My theories on why are many, but the primaries are:
1) Puberty. OH. MY. EFFING. G. PUBERTY. (People warn you when you're cuddling your sweet baby that someday they may not be so sweet any more, and you're like "Whatever. My baby is perfect, and will love me, and snuggle me, and listen to everything I say. Always. Just look at this little face!" Nope. Not so, noobs. Prepare yourselves.)
2) Maybe, just maybe, I'm a control freak. Or maybe I'm a Bitch. With a capital B. (Those of you who know me are thinking 'WHAAATTTT?' But you guys, it's true. I like things my way. I am strong-willed. I can be a bit on the demanding side. I know this comes as a shock.)
My bitchiness and their puberty are a dangerous combination. Unchecked, they can ignite our family time like a powder keg.
I am (fairly) certain I do a good job of reigning in my bossy behaviors (most of the time), and I know I can't expect them to reign in theirs. (That's the truly awful part of the puberty problem...if they had any control of themselves or their feelings at all, there wouldn't be a puberty problem in the first place.) I try to aim low with expectations, and pick my battles. Still, some battles must be fought, and some behaviors can't be overlooked.
I never in a million years thought parenting would be easy, but I didn't think it would be this hard either. I didn't think it would change me into a person I don't recognize. A person who may as well have horns and fangs. Who snarls things like "Leave this room. Now. I need 5 minutes without talking." Or who daydreams of a trip to the grocery store for a few minutes of peace. Or who (infamously now thanks to Facebook) hides in the car eating chocolate bars.
I'm not looking for pity here. Not at all. But it did occur to me that if I'm going through this, someone else might be too. There are tons of blogs dedicated to the horrors and hilarity of parenting toddlers, but nothing I have found relates to where I am on this motherhood journey. That makes me feel a little icky. Alone. Overwhelmed.
So, I'm outing myself (for the sake of others, and because writing this is cheaper than seeing a therapist): I'm the mother of two amazing children. They are beautiful, bright, funny, and kind. And sometimes I'm not very nice to them.
Hopefully, one day when they have kids of their own, they will understand why their mom was a maniacal shrew beast. It was because sometimes, as beautiful, bright, funny and kind as they were, they didn't leave her with many options. Sometimes diplomacy failed. Sometimes the nuclear option was all that was left.
So it goes. Through the generations. I should probably call home and apologize to my own mother. Again.
The point is, if you find yourself Rambo parenting, there is nothing to feel icky about. You are doing your job the best you can. You aren't alone. And if you're overwhelmed, pour yourself a glass of wine, and tell your kids that they're lucky, because I am a much meaner mom than you are. It's probably true. I take away video games. (GASP!!!)