Do you ever just feel lost as a parent?
At many times in the 4 years that I've been a parent, I have found myself fumbling over some aspect of childrearing. Eating issues, sleeping issues, health issues, etc. I know that every stage will have it's obstacles, but I've recently been really struggling over some of Little Chica's behaviors.
Or, rather, not listening.
Chica is a wonderful kid. I love her to pieces. She is boisterous and fun and intelligent and creative. Her imagination is absolutely amazing, riddled with tales of princesses and whales and dragons and beaches and mountains. I believe she will do great things some day.
Presently, though, I am having a heck of a time getting her to listen.
I know, I know. She's not even 4 (her birthday is in August). I've heard that the 3's are one of the more frustrating times a parent goes through (I have high hopes of 4's, so please don't disappoint me). I know my girl can hear. But when she is asked to do something or to not do something, I almost always get the opposite response I was looking for:
"Chica, time to get our shoes on!"
"NO! I don't feel like it!"
"Chica, we need to be more kind to Bug."
(Another quick hit on the head before running away).
"'The End.' Okay! Let's say prayers and get under the covers. It's time for bed."
(Like lighting, jumps out of bed proclaiming she can't go to sleep yet).
"I said if you jumped on the couch one more time, it'd be a time out. So, time out."
(Pointing at me and with as much intensity as could muster) "No. I don't want to go in time out."
"Stay by the car, please don't run in the street. I have to get Bug out of the car."
(Barely hearing the end of my request before playing in the parking lot).
Sometimes it's like she literally doesn't hear me at all! I could be 12 inches away calling her name, and she is so absorbed in whatever she is doing, I get no response.
And it makes me feel like one big failure. I have the kid who doesn't listen. I'm that mom who is shouting at her kid down the long Mall corridor because she's run a football field's length ahead and I'm worried about her safety. She's the kid who makes everything a battle. I find myself asking daily:
"What am I doing wrong?"
Each day I face the struggles. Some days are better than others: I'm able to connect with Chica, and we're on the same page. Other days seem to be an endless string of time-outs, exasperated sighs, sharp tones and helplessly throwing my hands in the air. Each day I find myself wondering what I could be doing differently.
Hubby and I have had many talks on the subject. I know there are things in myself that I need to work on, as well as coming up with different ways of handling Chica. We've noticed that she doesn't buck against my husband nearly as much as me. Hubby would contend that it is because he handles her differently. I believe I am with her a large majority of the time, and therefore more opportunities to discipline arise (and less opportunities for fun).
Either way, it's something I need to really think through, process and work on. Some things I know I need to work on:
- Being more flexible
- Going with the flow
- Not raising my voice
- Aiming to positively redirect/reinforce instead of focusing on the negative behaviors.
I also want to generally improve my relationship with Chica. I love her deeply, so much so that it hurts. And the idea that she could spend the rest of her life resenting me and fighting me makes me super sad. Don't we all have visions of being best friend's with our daughters? Being the one they come to when they have friend issues, the shoulder they cry on when a boy breaks their hearts? I know that being my daughter's best friend isn't the goal, but I certainly don't want an antagonistic relationship for the rest of our lives.
It's crossed my mind that she may just want some attention. Maybe I'm the one who isn't listening. With a little sister needing constant supervision, everyone gets a little less of Mommy. Believe me, it weighs on me that neither girls gets all the attention they deserve. And I know I could do a better job of being ALL THERE when I am around.
So I'm going to try to have Mommy/Chica Dates on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Times where Chica and I go out for some fun one-on-one time. Maybe we'll grab dinner, maybe we'll get our nails done, maybe we'll go shopping, maybe we'll just go to the park and run around.
Whatever we do, I want to give her my undivided attention. I want her to know that she may not always listen, but I'm always listening to her. I hope what she hears from me is that I love her, that I'm proud, and that nothing she can do will change that.
You're beautiful, Chica. And I trust we'll figure this out.
Or you'll turn 4.
Whichever comes first.
Do you struggle with your kids listening? Did you deal with it at some point? How do you address it, what things worked for you? I'd really love to hear from you, so be sure to leave some advice in the comments!