Seriously. Right now I am feeling the fatigue of being the parent to a 4 year old who is testing boundaries and going through big life changes which bring about new anxieties. This can often mean some acting out or regressive behaviours. I am a pretty compassionate being, a fairly patient parent and of course I love the little ratbag to pieces, but I’d be lying if I said that right now I am not considering googling the nearest touring circuses to see if they’d like a new clown (I can do the ‘bumbling idiot’ routine quite well when I’m tired – I’d be an asset). I figure a circus would be less crazy, right?
It’s not very often that I feel so utterly over it. It takes a lot for me to crack and feel utterly helpless and burnt out while my child goes through a challenging new phase. But when I do, there are some very recognisable thoughts that appear in my scattered head!
I have realised that there are stages I go through whenever something tough, of the parenting variety, pops up and punches me in the throat.
Denial that it’s happening. No. It’s just a one off bad night (or insert other challenges here). Oh, two? Just two. Oh, maybe it’s just a rough week…there are many plausible explanations that this could be a fairly isolated incident…right?
OH FFS. Are we STILL dealing with this? Aargh. Will this never end? I AM SO DAMN TIRED. Get your act together, kid! I don’t even feel like I know you right now! I love you lots and lots and lots, but right now I am not sure I’m liking you and that is killing me!
(of course I don’t say it to him – I just scream it inside my head when he’s not looking)
I know I can make this better. I just know I can. Here’s every reward chart ever. Here’s me googling solutions at 2am. Here’s me begging and hoping and fighting the reality that it’s just a phase and that the only way is through. THROUGH? AS IF. I can totally get around this. I can fix this. Just give me a damn moment to fix this! WHERE IS MY SANITY?!
OK. So now I’ve had my little melt down during the bargaining stage, I have had some time to review. I have decided that I can in fact CTFD (Calm The Fuck Down) and perhaps accept that it is what it is, and fighting it is just going to turn me into a crazy lady. I can only do my best and it turns out that ‘through’ may really be the only choice I have.
It’s amazing how life never lets you think you’ve actually nailed the whole parenting thing.
Here are some of the things I’ve been learning about THOSE times:
- It’s not always the parent who is to blame. It’s important to be kind to yourself. Sometimes it’s just a developmental phase. Sometimes it’s just something you and your smallish child need to be educated on – it’s all new and unknown for both of you! There’s no other way but to learn on the job! It’s OK to feel like you have no bloody idea what you’re doing, because um…NO HANDBOOK. Seriously. Where’s my freakin’ handbook?
- It’s also not always the child who is fully to blame. When they’re not themselves or their behaviours are driving you bonkers, it is important to remember that they’re usually going through something too. While it might not excuse certain things they do (depending on their age), it’s important to remember that this one phase does not define them as a human being. Or at least it doesn’t have to. I try really hard (it can take a LOT of effort when we’re at the end of our tether) to separate the child from the behaviour (gotta love a popular parenting cliché). I have been trying to find ways to bond with the Little Mister, rediscover all the best parts of him (there are many) and to help build his confidence.
- Reaching out to supportive mummy/daddy people in your life is priceless. If there’s someone in your life who has kids the same age as your kids, or has vivid memories/nightmares of having kids the same age as yours, they are an amazingly reassuring resource to tap into. For me, it’s often my mum, close friends and my mothers’ group. I can think that the craziest WTF moments with the Little Mister are isolated to just him, but as soon as I reach out, I often realise that there are like 5 other mums going through the exact same thing at the exact same time (or who remember all too well) and if I’d never shared my parenting woes (or been privy to theirs), I would never have known! Nothing takes a weight off your shoulders like knowing you’re all in the trenches together.
- Recruit an awesome team who all have your kid’s best interests at heart. Assault that bastard phase together. Show that you’re a tight, caring unit. Get your spouse, your child’s carers/teachers, the grandies, the family doctor (if applicable) all on board. A united front – a do no harm, show lots of love, but take no shit type thing – can do wonders.
- This phase will not last forever. A reality check is good. I ask myself questions like, “Will this two weeks of crap right now really matter in 10 years?” Hell, I’m sure I’ll have bigger problems then, but that’s not the point of the exercise haha. You know what I mean. It’s like when you’re toilet training and you think your kid will never nail it but then you realise that it would be highly unlikely that your kid will be attending high school in nappies and you feel a teensy bit better.
I feel hopeful that we’re kicking the fucking fours in the goolies (for now anyway). It’s been a rough couple of weeks for everyone. It’s been good to regroup and strategise. Honestly, I’ll never know if it’s my superb parenting (BAHAHA) or whether the phase was coming to a more peaceful place on its own anyway, but I’ll be glad to see the back of it.
You know…until the next time it rears its ugly head!
So, tell me. Anything you’re going through at the moment? Want to get through this together? x