Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Small Changes


I have said this before and I am quite certain I will say it again.  This parenting business is hard.  Or perhaps that is just me and others do not feel that sense of failure or doom or whatever negative feeling I can associate to parenting sometimes.  This is not an always thing mind you.  I feel an intense sense of pride in both kids because I know I am part of the good things they are doing in life.  I feel I get plenty of positive comments about who they are and how great they are when they are not with us… what more can I ask for. I know that eventually I will send them off into this world to fend for themselves and I believe K and I have done/are doing/will continue to do a solid enough job of giving them great tools to use in their tool box.  I suppose all of this comes to a point and that point is that parenting is hardest on the parent. 

Parenting to me means being as present as possible.  It is an introspective narrative of our internal beings.  Who we are and who we were before we were parents, what we knew before children, how we react/act in a variety of situations, etcetera, etcetera… I find myself constantly telling myself to stop doing this or change that or else the kids will grow up and this will cause them trouble and pain their lives.  I think I did this somewhat unconsciously until recently.  I also know that the worst interior voice, the one that does the most damage to me as a parent, is the one that say “oh shit, this (behavior/activity/action/you name it) is going to fuck my kids up” and it makes me doubt and second guess everything I do as a parent.  I have determined after a particularly heinous weekend of parenting that I need to focus on a few things to start to make changes that I want for them first and foremost and me and K next. 

The most important aspect of this is to think about change as a whole and make steps to get to that whole.  I am not good at baby steps.  I think I am better a huge giant leaps which is just a made up belief because I actually really such at giant leaps and need to focus on the baby steps right now.  The whole change I would like to make would be to have a more peaceful home. I did not come up with this idea on my own but of course I read about this subject on another blog.  As soon as I saw the title of the other blog, I thought that is what I want work on achieving for our family.  I really want this.  And so I read the post and resonated with me so deeply that I felt I needed to consider how I could change things for myself to help us move in that direction.

I grew up mostly raised by my mother who in her infinite wisdom told me everything as if I was her girlfriend or sister.  She would mumble and grumble out loud about every little thing that came into her head and she did this nearly 24/7.  I used to shut my door and turn up the music to shut off that constant noise from her.  However, confessional time, I do it to my kids especially when I am enraged/depressed/sad/scared/nervous/having a panic attack.  Thank goodness I am not all of these things ALL of the time but still… I do what she did and it was a thing I dreaded/hated about her growing up from an early age till I moved far away from it.  I need to shut off the external monologue.  It just needs to stay where it belongs – inside my brain.  This sounds so simple but after 21 years of listening to someone else pontificate on every subject and aspect of her life out loud, I have come to realize that it became a default for me. I talk my way through things out loud thus driving everyone else bat shit crazy around me.  And I need to be aware and conscious of what I am saying and what is coming out (verbal diarrhea versus meaningful interactions) of my mouth in front the kids and K.

Next, I need to stop trying to change K.  We both yell at the kids as our means of punishment if you will.  I am always trying to correct him before he gets started which gets him even more angry and fired up and the fact is I am trying to control him when I cannot even control myself.  I have told him that I hear him yelling and it gets me fired up and in the wrong place but why should he have so much control over my behavior.  That is just plain silly.  And so I need to let him work things out on his own and not interfere with him.  I need to take care of my own internal yelling which eventually is external yelling and not worry so much about getting him to stop.  I think this yelling and the constant talking out loud go hand in hand. 

However my four old and almost eight year old do not understand that and so they are involved in our action/reaction situation.  Sometimes we are yelling at them for everything and I can see they are simply deaf to the yelling.  There is absolutely no response from either of them.  If my Dad was angry he really let us know it but I can rarely in my mind’s eye see him really angry.  Mostly he ignored things or he dealt with them when everyone else was calmer.  If he was yelling, I knew he was pissed and I sat up to listen. 

The blog where this idea of a more peaceful came from talked about yelling as an example in another post.  While this blogger does not yell out loud per say he was getting internally angry and he was actually waiting for the moment when his daughter would set him off.  Here is the post.  The idea of trying to see that there is end to interaction was completely helpful to me. It is something I have been working on sometimes with great success and other times utter failure. 

The good news is that I am working on it.  Slowly but surely I am trying to do better for the kids and myself and K.  I think if I can focus on two smaller things at a time and be aware of what I am doing and saying that will help.  My goals for the next week will be to achieve a quieter voice outside of myself both the one that says everything that is in my head (especially when I am tired, stressed out, low on coping skills) and the one that yells at the kiddos.  I want them to grow up with as many kind sweet memories of their childhood and I want them to have great tools in their toolbox that they can take with them into their relationships in the future.  As important as that I want to make these changes for myself and K and our relationship.  I want to take the evil little voice out of my head that automatically says negative things like you are doing to fuck these kids up…  Small changes will make a big difference. 

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