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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Big Feelings and Kisses Better

Ivie and I had a doozie of a moment on Monday. It left me drained and rattled and questioning everything I thought I knew about being a mother.

The rundown?

Ivie doesn't watch much TV - she didn't watch any until she was 20 months old. This has been a parenting choice that is important to us. And while she can watch TV now, her viewing habits are pretty restricted. She basically can watch Mickey Mouse, Little Einsteins, Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock - preferably all streamed via computer and without commercials. We also try to keep it to a single show, every other day.

Because she goes to Darci's house (our adopted grandma and babysitter) on T, W and TH - she gets to watch Mickey Mouse there.

However, over the last couple weeks Trevor and I have been so swamped with school and work that we have found ourselves letting Ivie watch her shows a little more frequently. We reprimanded ourselves and decided to cut back again.

Problem is that Ivie LOVES Mickey Mouse, and wants to watch Mickey Mouse all the time.

So, Monday:

Ivie requested to watch Mickey Mouse.
I told her we weren't going to watch Mickey Mouse or any shows today, but that Mommy was home all day and we could play whatever she'd like.
TOTAL and COMPLETE MELTDOWN
I'll be the first to admit that temper tantrums completely grate my nerves, and I don't cope well with them. I set Ivie on the couch and told her I'd talk with her when her fit was over. Isolate and ignore right? That's what almost every parenting article/book I've ever read says to do.
Well, 30 minutes later she hadn't even missed beat in her screaming and wailing.
Next I tried to talk to her a little - met by more screaming.
So I went back to the kitchen and tried to distract her "I would love it if you'd come in and help me cook lunch for Daddy" "Mom is going to do the dishes now, I sure need a happy helper."
No bites.
Fit continues.
40 minutes in I go in and  tell Ivie that I am going to hold her until she calms down. I try and tell her that I love her and to take deep breaths. All that good positive, calming chatter that is supposed to tame a tantrum.
No avail.

And then I lost it. I snapped, yelled, swatted her bottom and sent her to her room.

THEN I felt AWFUL.

Ten minutes later Ivie has calmed down, but I'm still pretty upset. She came out of her room and I held her. I tried to talk with her about her feelings, mommy's reaction and more. EPIC FAIL ROUND 2

Mommy: You were feeling mad because Mom said we weren't going to watch Mickey.
Ivie - nodding
Mommy: Then Mommy got mad too huh?
Ivie - nodding
Mommy - Does it make you sad when mommy gets mad at you?
Ivie with a devilish glint in eye - No, I happy.
Mommy - No, you are not happy. You are sad. I am sad. I am sad we got mad at each other. Aren't you sad?
Ivie: (laughing) No, I happy.

And then I lost it again. I set her down and put myself in a time-out in my room while she began happily playing with her toys. I was so upset. I sent Trevor a flurry of irrational text messages about how I was obviously failing as a mother. How maybe I should keep working, because she doesn't act like this when she is with Darci, who is clearly doing a better job raising our daughter then I am. About how our daughter has no idea how to understand emotions or empathy and just might be a sociopath.

Five minutes later my phone rang. It was Darci.

I answered and ended up spilling my guts to her. After a good conversation and some rebuilding of my mommy self-esteem I felt better.

I realized that Ivie is still little. She is still learning emotions. Sometimes she seems to mature about this in other areas that I expect too much of her all the time.

For instance, last week I was surprised and touched by her emotional understanding of the following incident.

Anytime Ivie gets hurt these days she wants a "keess." We fix-up bumps on the head, hands, knees, or any aching part with a quick kiss and then she is as good as new.

While she and I were playing CandyLand she got excited and swung her little game piece around quickly, bashing her fist directly into my eye. It  hurt and I exclaimed, "Oh Sweetheart! You hurt Mommy's eye! Please be careful"  With all the concern in the world, she laid her hand on my shoulder, brought her little face within inches of mine and said, "No worry Mommy. Daddy keess you better." She then took off yelling for Daddy to come and "Keess Mommy!"

So precious. And I thought it was a good sign that emotional understanding and intelligence had developed.

 Then fast forward to our mutual meltdown last Monday.

Ivie is still little. She is learning how to push buttons. And she can't always be practically perfect.

I'm still a new mom. I'm still learning to be a mom. I can't always be practicality perfect. 

We are going to have hard moments. We will have moments that make me question everything I think about being a mom, and everything I know about trying to raise a healthy, happy child.

But there will be a million beautiful moments too, and I'm clinging to that. And when the hard moments come, we'll just kiss them better.