The day an alternative outcome flashed before my eyes – and it was TERRIFYING!

pexels-photo-235615.jpegWhen Honey Bee was 2 and a half years old we decided to enroll her in ballet classes. She loved to watch and dance along ballet videos to the point that we could stream the whole Sleeping Beauty ballet and she would be either dancing along or watching attentively the whole time. It was summer time which made the decision easy since we only had to commit to a few classes. Of course, I still got all the gear because: cuteness.

So there we go Honey Bee and me to the dance gear store. Everything was going just fine until I asked her to try the shoes. For some reason she started throwing a huge fit, I honestly don’t remember the details. It happened almost 2 years to date now, but the point is after several attempts to calm her down and tell her that I’d take her to the car if she didn’t stop the fit (you see here… I was telling a 2 and a half-year-old to use reason and behave while she was going crazy… yeah, right!), I completely lost it and stormed out of the store. I was FURIOUS! Literally blinded by anger. I tried to buckle her in the car seat, wrestling style, no success. I spanked her bottom for her unacceptable behavior at the store and the situation just kept escalating. Eventually, I got out of the car and slammed the door as hard as I possibly could. It was very hard. Things eventually calmed down and it was then that I replayed the situation in my head over and over and could not shake away the thought that if my daughter had tried to follow me towards the door I could have either slammed her hand or head on it. I cringed. Because I lost control, I acted with rage I could have seriously hurt her if she had come after me. I cried for days just thinking about that possibility.

I truly don’t remember the details of the episode. I only remember the terrifying thought I had if my actions had led to a different outcome, how could I live with myself if I had hurt her. Since that day, I chose to “walk away” from her fits. Either literally or just going to my happy place in my head, because I cannot afford to flip my lid and act irrationally. I am the adult in this relationship with a fully formed brain, she is still under construction, she has no obligation to be “emotionally stable”.

This is the first time I open myself about what happened that day. I’ve shared the episode with my husband, who calmed me down and reminded me that I shouldn’t be upset about something that did not happen, but no one else. However, it was a good reminder about how blind people can get while in anger. I for sure experienced the receiving end of that growing up and it wasn’t pretty.

Getting myself to walk this path of positive parenting is not easy. It is a daily battle to deny behaviors and emotions that might seem easy to rely on while living the situation, but in the long term, they will only drive me away from my daughter. Becoming a “Positive discipline parent” is a must for me so I can steer completely away from any chance of damaging one the most precious relationship I have in life.

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The Beginning

From time to time I feel the urge to write. For days my head boils with ideas, my fingers itch craving for the keyboard and I wonder whether or not I should maybe start blogging, whether or not I understand enough the subject my brain keeps thinking about to the point that I should share my thoughts about it and if it could be useful in someone’s life. Every subject nowadays seems to be so polarized and so many people just assume they hold the higher ground on the matter to the point of feeling entitled to be aggressive to whoever has an oppose viewpoint. I know I can’t stomach arguments that slide down into an exchange of personal offenses. I’ve been there and I can’t handle. I appreciate oppositional viewpoints, and I believe the conversation can be so fruitful! As long as we keep our “guns” down and debate with facts and ideas. So, due to my fear of being bashed and scorned online, I have chosen to just keep my ideas to myself. Time is limited anyways… I don’t know if I can keep up with a blog full time. And besides, is there anyone willing to read my words?

Well, turns out there is a subject I really would like to share my experience with. Not because I am an expert, but because I am very imperfect at that. And because I want another way to hold myself accountable to my cause and because I am SURE many, many other people feel they are in the same boat: Parenting. Yes, there are hundreds of parenting blogs out there. I know. It is not my intention to write a blog about what I think you should do as a parent and how to raise your children. My idea is to simply share my messy road. You see, I have decided to make a big change on the way I parent my child. Until 3 weeks ago I was lost on this parenting world. She is only 4 but I could already foresee our future increasing in fights and damaged relationship that would turn in distrust during her teen years. I can’t afford that. I did not want to be a mom just so I could hate being it, and wonder, in moments of crisis, why did I ever want to have a child!? All because I WAS an authoritarian parent. My yes was yes, my no was no with no room for negotiation. How well do you think this works with a 4-year-old? It simply doesn’t!

From the time she was about 18 months to a month ago, I got bitter and bitter as a mom, whenever a behavior crisis would occur to the point that I could no longer look at a baby and not feel sorry for the parents. Don’t get me wrong, my daughter is the joy of my life, I love her with my soul. But I couldn’t simply enjoy motherhood anymore. Poor thing, she has no fault in it. She is just being herself, growing up, learning, testing her limits as she should. I am the one who needs to figure things out. I am the one who needs to find a better way to parent my child and restore the joy of being a mother in my heart. I got to a place where I would see parents of multiple children and truly wonder why do they do that to themselves? And how!? How could they manage the high-stress life of raising more than one kid? But above all, I felt broken. To me, it was like I was broken inside. From a young age, I always said that I was going to have at least 2 children. My little girl was a kid that I prayed, cried and begged God for. There was nothing I wanted more than being a mother. Why was I struggling with it so much, to the point of giving up even the idea of having a second child? It truly felt like there was something wrong with me.

I grew up in a very authoritarian home. My dad did not give me much room to negotiate with him. Although I have siblings, I am the oldest and our age gap is 7 and 10 years apart. Even though my brother and sister didn’t get it easy, by far I had the worst. My father thought that in order to raise a responsible and trustworthy adult we had to be spanked (open hand, belt, closed fist, maybe a shoe was thrown across the room), grounded and yelled at. I carry a lot of sadness in my heart still to this day for all the bad choices he made in parenting us. He also didn’t believe in personal space. Which means that from time to time he would go through my notebooks, and random papers to make sure I was not hiding anything from him. I can share more about my upbringing at a later time, but what matters now, is that in trying to steer away from his ways I was actually following in his footsteps. And that was making me miserable!

So 1 month ago, after being at my wits’ end with my daughter, because she had been waking up every single night, at least 2, 3 times, for months, I realized that my methods were broken and I needed to try something new. On that night, we woke up before 2 am, she stayed up in her room awake until 4 am, in midst of crying and begging for mommy – only mommy works, if my husband even got close, she screamed bloody murder! I finally went in there and she fell asleep in minutes. My dear husband and I we went to back to bed only the following night. Anyway, I resorted to Google to help me out. I then found out about this site called Aha! Parenting (www.ahaparenting.com) written by Dr. Laura Markham. I immediately bought her audiobook Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids. Something clicked inside me. I truly needed to control myself in order to see better outcomes whenever my daughter had to be disciplined. After that I bought Positive Discipline Parenting Tools: The 49 Most Effective Methods to Stop Power Struggles, Build Communication, and Raise Empowered, Capable Kids ” from Jane Nelsen and two of her children and the latest one “No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind” from Daniel J. Siegel Tina Payne Bryson.

These books have changed the way I parent my daughter. They have also made me accept that I will never be the perfect mother and that mistakes are good opportunities to learn and most important of all, I need to be flexible, to negotiate and compromise. Delaying bedtime in 10 minutes for an extra book is not the end of the world and will not spoil my child to the point that she will not have respect for me.

Becoming a mother was something I had always desired. Living through these earlier years of motherhood have been a lot harder than I anticipated. Like every other parent out there, I put my foot in my mouth when it came to ways of parenting before I actually had a child of my own. I was “perfect” and always knew the right strategy to deal with conflict, in my mind, I may add… Then, my little honey bee came along and flipped me upside down and now I catch myself sometimes simply staring at her, helplessly, in the middle of a tantrum of a store aisle floor. If I can deal with it without losing my cool, and keeping my brain in control of the situation, I am the winner and moreover, my desire to connect with my daughter and help her through it only increases, instead of simply wanting to punish her for her breakdown and wonder why in the world did I get pregnant. Because of that, the unconditional outpouring of love to my kid, even when it looks like she should be ignored or strongly disciplined, is why I wanted to be a mom.