We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
[Marianne Williamson]

Saturday, June 16, 2007

SMART Habit Saturday

My score for exercising this past week has been 'good' - the goal is 4 hrs 40 mins a week (10 minutes per hour, four hours a day between 3am & 7am - my study time). I managed 3 hrs 40 mins. 'Very good' would be 4 hrs or over, and 'excellent' would be the whole 4 hrs 40 mins. I won't count it as a habit until I can write down 'excellent' for three weeks in a row! But I am pleased with the effort I have put in and I feel better for it.

For this week's habit I had planned something reasonably simple - personal grooming. However, a more urgent need has arisen. I am very hesitant to write further, and I should warn that what follows may be disturbing. I don't know what you will think of me after this, but it is a dangerous tendency and I need to write it out into the open so I can combat it. (Please don't send me hate mail!)

My level of aggression towards Wombat is unacceptable. Most of the time I am his loving, cheerful, entertaining, comforting mummy who will read endless stories, sing endless songs and generally try to be understanding. He is a typical toddler - sweet, loving, cheerful and entertaining, with a stubborn streak a mile wide, a desperate desire to have his own way without actually knowing what he wants, and the ability to push all mummy's buttons at once. I have found myself withdrawing and behaving coldly in response, and when that doesn't work, I have lashed out at him.

After a rainy day together with only one half-hour nap for him in the morning (despite yawning his little head off and rubbing his eyes raw, he wouldn't couldn't fall asleep this afternoon) he was tired, I was tired, his teeth hurt, I had a sore throat from singing lullabies over and over again. He asked me to read a book by pushing it hard into my face. I told him I would, after I changed his nappy. He cooperated with the change, then started crying when I went to put the wet nappy in the bucket. Without thinking, I slapped him in the face with it. That is SO far from how I believe a mother should behave that I am ashamed to type it. What kind of psychological trauma could that cause? Here I am celebrating how much he remembers from his books and the words I teach him, and I go and behave like a cruel bully towards him. It took me a long time to cheer him up afterwards, and this morning he woke up at 2:30 and despite lots of reassuring cuddles, I couldn't get him back to sleep until 4.

He has four pre-molars cutting through at once, and I am sure he is in a lot of pain. He is adjusting to the loss of our breastfeeding relationship. I am under a huge amount of stress from all sorts of directions, and on top of that I am dealing with the hormonal effects of weaning. That's no excuse. A few months ago I read in the newspaper about a couple who had whipped their 4 year old daughter with electrical cord and then shoved her into a boiling hot shower, giving her third degree burns. They were so ashamed of themselves, they didn't take her to hospital until six hours afterwards. All because she was 'refusing' to be potty-trained.

This horrific story stuck in my mind, because at times I can feel how easy it would be to snap like that. I have never gone close, and I think I would never ever ever do such a thing to my beautiful boy. But today scared me. It made me realise that I'm much closer to the edge than I think and that if I don't start stepping back from it now, when things get really challenging I won't be able to cope. Then Wombat will be the one to suffer, not me, and that's a thought I can't bear.

As a result, I have to take responsibility right here and now - and what better way than to make positive parenting a habit? I will try to read something on positive parenting every day & put it into practice. I will also give myself a parenting score out of 5 each day, since I find having a quantifiable goal helps to keep me on track. I have tried to adopt positive parenting in the past, but seem to forget the principles and backslide when the stress builds up. Now it is time to make it a way of life, not just a nice idea! I will remember:
My work is to love.

Here are some links I have found to start my reading:
- Positive
- Positive
- Encouraging better behaviour
- Positive Routine Management (this is the Australian 'baby whisperer' - she has a lot of interesting things to say about communication... I can see I am going to be spending a lot of time re-reading this page & trying to put it into practice.)

Time to go, or I won't get my exercise done this hour. It is cold, pouring with rain, and I don't feel like it, but I do want it to be a habit, so I will "just do it". Hopefully I can apply the same technique to being a better mum.

SMART habit progress:

Visit Lara at The Lazy Organizer to join in Smart Habit Saturday - it will change your life!


The Lazy Organizer said...

What a wonderful habit you are working on and thanks for sharing your struggles with us. I'm sure there are many of us who can relate to your feelings of frustration. I don't know if this is your first child but I found my first to be especially hard because I was so new on the job!

Just don't forget that parenting is hard for all of us so don't think you're a terrible person. I struggle every single day to remain calm and patient. In fact I just said a prayer tonight as we were doing jobs that I wouldn't yell at my kids because I knew I was losing my patience.

I think it is such a great idea for you to read up on this subject every day. Sometimes I read a good book and forget all about it before I can put the ideas into practice.

An Ordinary Mom said...

We definitely all have our less than stellar mommy moments where we are utterly ashamed at the way we reacted. I can't tell you how many times I have thought in my head I am scarring my child for life. At least you have noticed that you don't want to be a certain way anymore. That is always the first step. Whenever I am on the brink of losing it I always give myself a time out behind a closed door away from the kids.

One book that has helped me a lot is Positive Discipline For Preschoolers or Positive Discipline for Ages Zero to Three. Both are by Jane Nelson.

Good luck this week!

Steff said...

Your not alone - toddlers drive you nuts - they drive themselves nuts
At 19 months (the whole of january 07 I was driven nuts) I wrote "so I just lost it and gave her a smack on the bottom ( I NEVER smack) and forced the nappy on her - then I said we had to put our shoes on and she just cracked it and would not let me put them on her so I lost it again and threw our dooner over her (she was on our bed) and then realised I was loosing it so uncovered her and left the room."

At 20 months I wrote "I spent the last two days tearing my hair out at my whiney child who screamed she was hungry and then would refuse to eat - there was nothing I could do that would make her happy she was just a misery guts - at one stage I said to hubby "you know I can understand why our parents generation resorted to giving us a hiding when we got in this mood - I am so utterly frustrated I just want to smack her to get my frustrations out - Its that horrid"

The fact that you can see your behaviour is the first step - and i always found reading some books helped me get a plan and if i had a plan i felt more in control...19 months seemed to be a huge problem - they develope and the more they can do the more frustrated they becoem - I am seeing it again now at 23 months - she reaches new milestones and subsequently new frustrations - time out has been my saviour

Corrie said...

I feel your pain. It can be so hard to rise above the emotions of our kids.

Communication can be such a barrier at this age. Kids can get frustrated because they have a limited way of expressing themself and it's so easy to get pulled into it. (My baby is 22 months)

Something that might also help (hope I'm not overstepping here) is sign language. The signs my daughter has learned have really given her a way to communicate with me before she has the words.

We still have our moments - that is the nature of turning two, but it has helped to ease the stress.

Montserrat said...

It is a struggle sometimes to figure out how to be a good parent. You've already done the first step in realizing what you want to change. Hang in there, keep trying, and love the little kiddo!

Lady_MSnow said...

I think you did very well for getting over 3 hours in. It's much better than what I am doing. :)

Robin@MyPursuitOf... said...

I can't say anything that the others haven't. Great habit you've chosen to work on.

Have a great and positive week.

Andrea said...

I love reading and getting new ideas on how to be a great parent. That's a great idea. I'll have to check out some of the links. Thanks for sharing your struggles. Hope this week is great.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I love you for having the courage to say this out loud. And thank you for the great links and reading material (I can ALWAYS use good parenting tips, myself).

Might I suggest something that should be a part of this lovely habit? Make sure that you get out of the house without little wombat at least twice a month. No matter how 'good' you are it is hard to be patient and loving when you are tired and pushed to your limit. Get out, get away, take some quiet time for mommy to meditate and ponder, and reenergize. Even mommies need "naps" so they don't get cranky.