Thursday, January 9, 2014

Directions

I've been in this parenting funk for the past, oh forever. It's where things are all out of kilter, and kiddos are fighting constantly, or whining, or just being annoying in general. I'm not really paying attention since I've got my own flotsam and jetsam cluttering things up. Days and days and holidays have gone by with all of us in this state of house arrest, trapped by the holding pattern we're in. No one has the damn map so we can find our way back to the open road. And no one even thought of stopping for some directions. It has sucked.

I realized during my before-I-get-up-think that I was in this holding pattern all over my life. Stuck life-in-limbo. I get a little paralyzed sometimes. You know, when you know what you want to do, but then you just are unable to move towards it? When you have all these good ideas but you can't manage to stop wasting time long enough to actually make them happen? This is one of these times.

It definitely doesn't help that the children have been sort of out of control. I've been lazy mama and letting things go when they deserve some attention. Effort. Things just haven't felt right. So I called up Universe Amy the other day to vent and say "Help me. I'm a little lost." She said something that made so much sense. It went something like this: "I'm not here for them to like me, and me not doing my role makes things scary for them." Which really made me think about the kind of mother I want to be- the one who is liked, or loved? It jarred me back to reality, back to my responsibility.

Then I realized that I needed that tough love for myself.

My parents were strict. My dad had definite ideas about how things were supposed to be. My mom was the kind of mom I am: all over the place. Loving, yelling, here and there, yes, it's fine, NO IT'S NOT, attentive, dismissive. Wow. Me too. And I have my definite ideas, but then I never felt listened to so my rules are kind of wishy washy and limp. I'm trying to be liked. To never let my kids feel the way I did a lot- alone and unheard. Oh. Shit.

What if what I've been longing for all this time was stability? Knowing what to expect? What if the way I parent my children is the way I parent myself????

Oh. SHIT.

After the talk with Universe Amy I'm getting my game back with the kids. I got my big mama self back, the one who knows what the fuck is going on and is in charge. Who is tender, but doesn't take any business. Who has rules and may not be popular but keeps it together. The change in them is instant. As soon as I say "OK kids. Here I am, in charge. I have the damn map." they scootch right back to themselves again. They push back a little harder, but when I stand firm scootch right back. What a relief.

I need to be big mama for myself.

A big big part of my personality is the give-in. It used to go like this: "I want a drink." "No, don't have a drink." "I want one." "No, really. Don't. Bad idea." "But I want it." sigh. "Fine, go ahead." Then I got to feel guilty all the next day for it. I do that now but with food instead. I don't do my soul stuff that makes my life feel good. I let the apathetic careless me make the decisions and then the rest of me gets to feel all guilty and cranky and indignant. Hence the helplessness.

I get life lazy. Like it's just so hard to do life, but life won't shut the fuck up about it. I want to run but talk myself out of it. I want to write but convince myself I don't. I long for yoga but avoid it like the plague. I want to glue stuff together and be crafty but I stare at my phone for fifteen years instead. WTF? Where is big mama? I need her for me, too.

Life hands out directions at just the right time. Here I am bobbling along, then looking a little lost. Life is all, "She might be OK, just a little diversion, wait.....wait, oop, nope. Totally off track. Here, pass that woman the map again." I got my cheat sheet, again. "Look here" it says. "Right here." "See where you were going to do the things that keep you sane and not do those things that make you crazy? Merge! Merge! Get back on track!"

I know when what I'm doing is making me unhappy. And I know the right things to do. As much as my children like rules, and boundaries, as much as knowing where the line is makes them feel safe, I suddenly realized that I need that too. I often feel like there are a lot of me's in here and that no one is really running the show. I need that inner cop, the rule maker, the enforcer. It makes me feel safer to hear my own voice as the voice of reason not permission. "I love you so there are rules." rather than "I love you so do whatever."

Now I have my directions so I gotta keep keeping it together for more than three days. Not lose big mama in traffic. Follow my map. Try my hand at consistency. Be my own enforcing tough tender loving big mama. Put that careless me in the way back, strapped in the car seat where she belongs.





18 comments:

  1. This is brilliant -- and I'm not using that word lightly. Makes so much sense, I'm surprised we don't all realize it about ourselves. None of us here have been the caring parent who says, "no! That's not good for you! Danger! Danger! Danger!"

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    1. It's hard to parent ourselves. But someone has to be in charge. Why has it taken me so long to figure out that it's me? Lol.

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  2. Amy, I'm totally rooting for you and I so love your ideas and your writing, but even though I'm young yet, I'm afraid I just can't read the new font - it looks like my own chicken scratch! I've even tried copying/pasting into a Word document but it pastes with a weird blue background that I can't get rid of. Would you maybe, possibly consider using a different font?

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    1. Yes! I'm in process of changing it. I just have to do it! :)

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  3. Oh, I love this. I really love it .. sounds similar to how I feel about my parenting.. like it can't actually be done half heartedly.. you have to be that big bossy shouty huggy lovey engaged mother who runs things firmly and robustly in order for it to feel safe. Not fun all the time, but secure. Great stuff Amy you are going from strength to strength. I've so appreciated following your journey xxx

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    1. Yes! I have the feeling we are a lot alike, just worlds apart. It's funny how I have to figure this out over and over with the kids, they start to behave and then I slack off cause they are being mostly good. But it was really one of those light bulb moments when I realized that I parent myself that way- tough, stay on task then I'm doing good so get permissive. I have to parent myself and my children all in. Thanks mama! Xoxoxo

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  4. The combination of loving and firm is a tough balance, but I agree it makes so much more sense. I have to be firm with myself, too, and when I lose that, I lose the plot altogether. I like that you call it parenting yourself, because that's kind of what's happening, isn't it? Good to see you're figuring this out! (And good for the kids, too, I'm sure.)

    [[PS Good job changing the font. I was having trouble reading it, too.]]

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    1. It's good for everybody all around. I was thinking that all of nature kind if follows this- there are rules for survival. Agatha antelope can't just go for a wander when the lions are about. Even if she really really really wants to. I'm really sort of blown away by the realization that I've been so all over the place. I get the idea of parenting myself, it seems like it has made things easier already.

      That font seemed so cool, until I tried to read it. Gone forever. I'll stick to my times new Roman. :)

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  5. Wow, this makes a lot of sense for me, too. I am either really tough or really permissive with myself...in retrospect, my parents were generally sort of neglectful (while drinking) or super tough...maybe to compensate. No excuses, but I findit interesting how many patterns I repeat from childhood! Wow. I have been trying to give myself tasks that are the right size (not too difficult to complete, but challenging), but I've been slacking post-holidays. A good reminder to set boundaries with myself! Thanks, Amy! xx

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    1. Boundaries are the key to happiness, of this I am sure. They create freedom rather than hinder it. xoxoxo

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  6. I love this. I have been a very permissive parent toward myself. When I was drinking I constantly gave in to anything my childish side wanted. Growing up all over again...

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    1. And being grown up is not a bad thing. I wonder why "grown up", along with "sober" tends to mean "boring" and stodgy" to most people.

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  7. Oh Amy, this is a wonderful post. Truly. We all need to self-parent, sometimes more than others, but we all need it. You explained the whole process so perfectly!

    In my early years of parenting I was permissive, crafty, lets all have fun!!! seeking love and adoration from my littles. Then the shit hit the fan and scared me to death and I learned real fast to up my game and be the parent. Their lives were depending on it and I kid you not!

    Now its back to taking care of myself and setting boundaries and standards for behavior.....especially in regards to food and exercise! Love love love reading you!

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    1. Thank you Annette. :)

      Mine are so much happier and well behaved when they know I'm in charge. What a relief for them, and for me- when I'm in charge of my own life I deep down feel good.

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  8. I am guilty of being the flaky one. And the boring one (how can flaky and boring go together???). And the second best. And the not tough yet tough yet folding like a cheap lawn chair dad. and like you said so well, I am not great at parenting or monitoring myself at times. I stay up way later than I should, I eat too much garbage, I don't exercise enough, I wander. My folks were both underwhelming when I was growing up - no harsh boundaries, no real consequences, etc. So I am cut from that cloth. Luckily my wife runs a tight ship, or else we'd all be lost at sea :)

    Great post, Amy!

    Blessings,
    Paul

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    1. Somehow we have to make it past the spoiled brat stage and into the age of contentment!

      Cheers!

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