Friday, August 27, 2010

She's stressing out?

Being a parent is hard. I know it's such an overused joke to talk about the lack of instruction manual but really, where is mine? Do you ever feel like you're totally screwing up your oldest child because they are your guinea pig for learning this parenting stuff? I do. I'm afraid I'm raising an uptight little one who won't be able to think for herself because we do all the thinking for her. And while I am constantly changing little things about my parenting as I see what I think will be better for her, the best changes usually come after I am praying for inspiration because I've done something horribly wrong. I just pray that she won't suffer for my well-intentioned, yet apparently poor choices. I was just woken up by a sweet little 3 year old voice saying "mommy? mommy?" I, of course assumed (you know what that does) that she was telling me she couldn't sleep or something equally unimportant so I just said "go get on the air mattress" (which we keep set up in our room because every night she ends up there for one of a myriad of reasons) This was followed by an almost apologetic voice stating "but I need a new pull-up because I peed mine all over me." I sat up and she was holding out a diaper to me (meant to fit her 7 month old sister) that was apparently all she could find in the basket in the dark. So as I got up and took her hand to lead her to get a new pull-up, I realize that she is not wearing the pajama top that she wore to bed. Almost as if she can read my thoughts, she sweetly starts telling me "and I peed all over my pajamas and I got a pajama top but I couldn't find the bottoms but I found the Christmas striped bottoms and it's okay to wear Christmas stuff right now." When I get upstairs to her room I realize that just as she has said, her pull-up has leaked through to her sheet but what surprises me is that the blankets on top of the sheet are not wet. Upon further explanation from her I see that she took off the wet blanket and then laid two blankets on top of the pee spot ("so the pee pee wouldn't get on my legs") and I also notice that Christmas striped pajama bottoms at the foot of the bed that she was talking about. So basically, my 3 year old (who is scared of the dark and hates being upstairs by herself but tolerates it to go to sleep) got up and on her own tried to clean up her wet bed, replace her own pull-up and put on new jammies and only came to me for help in desperation when she couldn't get the diaper she'd found on all by herself. And she says to me as I am removing the wet sheet "I peed my pull-up and then it was stressing me out." Why does this make me wanna cry? Maybe because I'm afraid that she was scared to come get me for help because I haven't always responded so well to being woken up in the past, or that I've possibly reacted too harsh over things that are an accident, but a pain to deal with nonetheless, and so she was attempting to deal with it herself (in complete darkness I might add). It's common to hear the little saying "you've got to pick your battles" when talking about parenting. I'm really feeling that now as I sit here and replay in my head the past few days, weeks and years with her. I think it's easy to expect our kids to be little adults and forget that they have yet to learn all the tools/lessons to act as such. I find myself saying to my 3 year old "why would you do that?" and on the days I'm thinking clearly, I hear my own self answer in my head and say "because I'm three mom and because three year olds are supposed to wonder how much toilet paper they need to wrap around their hand to make the roll not break off when they run through the house with it trailing behind them." Sometimes I wish I had a pause button so that when life got crazy and I found myself feeling overwhelmed, I could press pause and think about what a good response would be to a certain situation instead of just responding in the moment to the situation coupled with the stress I'm feeling. Oh how I love my children and I hope they know that despite my blunders. The good thing about feeling upset over something like this is that it does give me renewed energy to try harder to be a better, calmer, more patient and understanding parent and to figure out different ways to do things that may be a better fit for my kids. I just hope I'm not ruining my daughter while I learn.