Let's face it, being a parent is hard, but being a good parent (aka, doing the right thing as opposed to the easy thing) is almost always shitty. With my first son, life was pretty easy. There was only one of him and for the first four years it was only me (with a lot of help from my family). He was pretty well behaved, very smart and of course spoiled. I had no one to answer to as I was a single mom and I could make any decision I wanted about anything and no one could tell me I was doing it wrong (that I had to listen to anyway). I know I wasn't always as strict with him as I should have been, but he was a good kid and since I was working full time, I admit I took the easy way out a lot. (I look at pictures of me back then and think who cares, look at me all in shape, dressed nice and with my shit together.)
Fast forward 11 years, a marriage, another baby and two step sons and I still tend to take the easy way out, which without also having my shit together is not so great. Who the hell has time to do anything else! Not only do I have someone to answer to now (aka my loving husband with whom I share all my decisions with), but we also have four boys ranging from 4 to 14 who all think they are the boss. Many days (between work, school, homework, 5 basketball practices and games, shuffling kids around, grocery shopping, meals and everything else) all I want to do is just get through the day - never mind make my life more difficult, which is what doing the right things usually offers me. I know that in the long run, being strict and firm will make my life easier, but getting there is shear hell and I am not sure I am strong enough to make that journey.
First let me start by telling you that our 4 year old is amazing. He is cute and funny, super smart and a fantastic dancer. He also never sits still, and his two favorite things in life are TV and candy. Yup, bad mom here confessing that TV has been a great babysitter while trying to make dinner, do laundry or just keep the peace among siblings. And also recognizing that while candy might be a great bargaining chip or bribe, it probably isn't very high on our doctor's recommended list of foods for good behavior. Oh, and did I mention that he likes to swear? And I am not talking 4 year old made up swears, I am talking things that would be offensive if an adult said them to you. We are finally to the point of knowing that something needs to change, but changing it and not killing each other in the process is a huge challenge.
We have been limiting his TV to about an hour or so a day (down from like 6), limiting the shows is watching to educational (think Super Why instead of Supah Ninjas) and trying to be better about his diet. I am pretty sure the results aren't that different than what a crack addict goes through when you take away his crack pipe. Seriously. Picture one of the cutest little boys you have ever seen (picture below to support this statement) turning into a demon child who will spit at you and say F**k You on a dime when you turn the TV off - how the hell is that making my life easier? Not to mention that his listening skills are that of a deaf mute. So when we finally have had enough and go to bring him where we told him to go (usually time out or to his room), he turns into Gumby and makes it impossible to do anything but drop him - to which he screams, "Daddy! Mommy just threw me on the ground!"
As if that wasn't enough fun for one family, we have two tweens and a teenager. I am pretty sure that the only way they know how to communicate is to argue. Honestly, if you tell them that two plus two equals four, they give you ten ways that they can disprove that. And they will stick to that for hours if not days. The most frustrating thing is that they will do things they think they are doing to punish us which inevitably also punishes them. But god forbid you point that out! My husband and I have somehow gotten so stupid that nothing we say is correct. (Funny how if someone else says the same exact thing who isn't us, it is some how right.) Here again is where doing the right thing kicks you in the ass every time. At least with the four year old, he moves on quickly from a tantrum to loving you. With the teenagers, they hate you for days. They dig their heels in and won't budge. If only I was good at the silent treatment and just ignoring them. But no, every time I come up with something I think is witty to say, I open my big stupid mouth and keep everything going for like 3 more days.
Last night was an argument over homework. Apparently my son was so angry that two of his grades weren't As, that he thought not doing his homework was some kind of protest. Hmmmm...so instead of working harder at getting the As he wants, he spend the night in his room (because no homework no TV, computer or even Kindle - yup, I would not even let him read!) and went to school today having not done his homework. Must have been an interesting conversation with his teachers today. And somehow I know this is my fault, cause in the end it always is.
I never thought I would see the day when Monday would be my favorite day, but lately the workdays are so much better than the weekends. The other day I actually said out loud, "I am not looking to be a good Mom, I am just looking to survive." That about sums it up...