I totally failed parenting today. I was not patient. I was not playful. And I was not gentle.
Well, I wasn’t gentle with myself anyway.
The four year old refused to cooperate getting ready to go out. I never want to go out and I had decided we would go out – into the garden! – so they needed sunscreen. It was so low key and so little that needed to be done, I wasn’t going to insist we brush her hair or put on her socks and shoes. She just needed sunscreen. She said no.
I said, “then we’ll have to stay inside and be bored.”
She said “I want to stay inside.” I knew that wasn’t true. She hates staying inside. I’m the one who would rather never leave the house these days. Before kids I had to leave the house; at least for a walk, at least every other day. Now, I think I could spend a month without doing so.
So I said fine, I was annoyed and I knew this wasn’t the end though. And it wasn’t. Later she said she wanted to go out. So I asked her to come over to get sunscreen on. I looked at her, not getting up off the floor. She looked at me, looking at her. Eyes fixed on each other. And she still wouldn’t move. We had entered ‘Control’ territory.
The problem with her and I is that we are just the same. I see it in so many of our ‘situations’ and I try, when I’m feeling well to be the bigger person, the more clever person, the parent. But sometimes, I’m just a girl (Yes I’m a woman, but I feel like ‘just a girl’) trying to get through the day, without a clue how the hell that’s going to happen.
When I was a kid, I was the ‘cut your nose off to spite your face’ type. I couldn’t stand anyone else thinking they had control of me. I wouldn’t let anyone think that their directive was the reason I did something. So, for example, I could be sitting on my bed thinking “I really need to tidy up my room,” and if someone came in the door and said “Oh my god look at this place, tidy this up before you come out for lunch,” I’d be completely, utterly, unable to do it. I was about to, but now this person would think I only did it because that’s what I was told to do. I was like this well into my twenties but I’m mostly over it now. Few people tell me what to do anyway, in that directive type way.
I see this in my daughter. I don’t know if I’m projecting or not, but I really think this is how she feels too. A deep, down-to-the-core need to have autonomous control of her body, mind and space. I get it. I respect it. I love it even.
I do not know how to parent it.
I suppose I could have told her if she wants to go out she could put sunscreen on and I’d help if she wanted. I could have brought my two year old out and let her know she could come out when we got sunscreen on her. But the truth is, I’m not in the healthiest, happiest, most fulfilled place at the moment. My cup is empty and drying up. I’m starting to think about making arrangements to fix it, but right now, I still need to parent my kids.
I ended up later doing exactly what I said. I let the little one out and then sunscreened the big one who jealously, also wanted to go out. We muddled through the rest of the day.
I kind of feel like a hypocrite, except not really. I’m not perfect, I’m just a parent trying to get through in an imperfect system, the best way I can.
Let me know in the comments or on the Facebook page if you sometimes feel this way too. I could use some solidarity!