Friday, March 23, 2018

I Just Can't With You

Exasperation. Plain and simple exasperation. I just can’t with you.

Occasionally, I feel that I struggle more than most. I struggle with patience, with empathy and with the ability to work through discord with my kids. At the ages of 15 and 11, you would think I have learned a thing or two by now. You would be mistaken. I fail miserably almost every day when it comes to being a parent. It isn’t even that I hold myself to an unobtainable level of perfectionism.  I apparently missed the day they did all the parenting training. Not sure who “they” are or when this training was provided, but I for sure missed it.

The one thing I do know, is that I have placed my own personal comfort as more important than my kids. I want them to do what they are told when they are told to do it and do it with a good attitude. Is that too much to ask? I repeat my above wishes to them almost daily and ask them to repeat it to me as if they are The Gavin Family Rules written somewhere but they have yet to be found. When my kids fall into a rut and don’t do what they are told when they are told to do it an with a good attitude, I fall apart.  Usually, it starts with detecting sass or blatant disregard. My heart rate increases, my exasperation begins to boil. Almost like blood boiling, but exasperation bubbles up out of nowhere rather than slowly and noticeably. Exasperation peaks it ugly head usually at worst of times. As in, in front of people. Or in a public restaurant bathroom. Or, the best place, in the dining room at Chic-Fil-A.

My kids are the best. Like when my daughter insults an entire state and all of its inhabitants in a gas station right across the state border.  Or when my son yells at a little kid who is crying in a restaurant to be quiet. Sure. These things happen in every family. Kids are awkward. They don’t yet know what things shouldn’t be said in front of others.  However, what really makes my skin crawl is sassing, blatant disrespect and overt disobedience. When my daughter sasses, I may or not be known to say, “In all of the years of me being your mom, have I ever responded positively when you choose to talk to me like that.”  Or when I ask my son to unload the dishwasher before he plays, and he says no, and bolts downstairs slamming the door. I usually then find myself standing in the kitchen, experiencing a little bit of shock and awe and find myself not even wanting to call him back to get the job done. Often deciding that it is easier to just do it myself rather than continue to deal with disobedience. But then all common sense returns, and I call that kid back and lay down the law of Gavin Land.

Then I enter into the murky waters of my will versus my children's will. I am stubborn mom. I am stubborn wife. I am just stubborn. I want my way, when I want it and no one shall convince me otherwise.  I know this is a major fault on my part. I think it came from years in the workplace being the one in charge. Understanding work loads, project timelines and future additional work increase, I created an overall plan of action and recruited others to ensure that a project was completed by a proposed deadline.  Now, being self employed, it is just me, myself and I. I need to complete everything by a given time, and there isn’t anyone else to help or recruit. I am in charge of me. So I often tackle large projects immediately to ensure that completion with excellence is the final outcome. I discovered that now with children, I try to carry over a similar process. Where I have failed, is communicating the plan that I created in my head. I don’t take the time to communicate the how and the why.  I just say - this is what needs to be done, do it. And often, do it now. And because I said so. And when questions arise, I get irritated. Because I am the Mom and I said so. Do it. Half the time, I have given too little instruction or guidance and have overestimated my kids ability. Just because a child is 11 or even 15, doesn’t mean that they are equipped to see something through to completion.

So most of this boils down to patience and my ability to communicate effectively. My kids are always going to sass, be disrespectful or disobey on occasion. But if I will practice patience, instruct thoroughly, and encourage along the way, the outcome may prove to be much different. Children that are given a task, with the means and knowledge of how to complete it and encouragement along the way, will often complete the task in a timely fashion and with a semi good attitude. When I say semi, I am being realistic because we are talking about preteens and teens here.

I can not always control how my children act, but I can control how I react to their behavior.  It is all about my response. If my child sasses and I respond with, “I just can’t with you.” I have discouraged the child and encouraged further sassing.  But if I deal with the sass immediately, talk about what the real problem is, we can work through it better together as a team. Rather than approaching our relationship as a dictator and one being dictated to, a team working together is what I want to envision.

I do not have parenting thing all figured out. I probably never will. But I don’t want to be the mom that yells. I don’t want to be the mom that feels on edge because of publicly unruly children.  I do want to practice patience. I do want to teach and guide and encourage my kids. I also want to ensure that they know that I am there for them when they are upset, that I can listen and be respectful myself. And that we really are a team that can work together.  The changes that need to take place in my home, begin with me. My mouth, my mind, my thoughts. Then I will be somewhat more of the mom my kids deserve.

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