Monday, July 6, 2009

On the job training

When my first son was born on February 11, 1997, I officially became a mother. Almost 13 years later, I still feel like a rookie. As a caretaker of their physical and practical needs, I am confident that I can handle most any situation. When it comes to the emotional ups and downs of life with kids, well, that is a different story.

When I speak with mothers of 2 year olds, I usually tell them that I think "the terrible two's" sometimes come back with a vengeance in unexpected ways as kids grow. I wish I could crawl into my older child's psyche to figure out why he is suddenly upset. When my kids were two, I knew that their tantrums often came from developmental frustration, lack of reason, fatigue, hunger or just boredom. Mothering kids at different stages can be a challenge. We are in week two of the summer and I've had emotional meltdowns in various forms from all three of my oldest children. I try to figure out why they are upset, but sometimes it seems like they lose it for no apparent reason. I can chart the physical development milestones easily. Helping a child navigate through these tumultuous emotional stages of childhood and adolescence is proving to be an exhausting period of motherhood for me.

I also think that sensitive Kelly has produced some sensitive kids. They probably take a lot to heart just like me. I guess I can pass on some kind of sensitivity gene. I never anticipated that my children could possibly mirror this aspect of my personality. They talk a lot like me, and apparently they can "feel" like me too. Gratefully, they do have a good deal of my husband's resilience and practicality. Every once in a while, there are those sudden kid emotional meltdowns that sneak up on me and then I say to myself, "Now what?"

I always want to help them with everything. I'm learning that I can be supportive, but maybe they just need to ride out some of these emotional outbursts. A tough day is when any combination of my kids will have an emotional moment at the same time. I've had those days when two kids are working out their issues simultaneously. A moody 12 year old and 9 year old in the same house is no fun. I do love how they bounce back pretty quick. The ups and the downs. Hooray for the ups!

I wonder what shape I'll be in after my fourth child finishes her teen years. Check in with me in about 14 years. I think I'll be "checking in" to some kind of spiritual renewal retreat to put me back together emotionally. Maybe a sleep retreat would be better.

Hopefully, I'll get one Poet Laureate out of the bunch. (Don't tell my husband I said that :)

I guess this is my Monday vent about figuring out this whole mothering thing. It's definitely a day to day learning on the job experience. Gratefully, there are plenty of smiling moments with my kids to balance out the craziness.

Life with kids is an adventure!

29 comments:

Joanne said...

I think what is important is that you are there for them, always. Whether you ask what's wrong, or whether they want to volunteer or not, knowing Mom is available and the steady current in the family is a tremendous lifeline to them. A certain confidence comes from you steadying the ship. And it is amazing how in a day or two, the turbulence is all but forgotten!

Christy said...

Yes, life with children is definitely an adventure. I didn't realize how much I didn't know until Kate was born. She got my temper. I am definitely not looking forward to when she can vocalize it with words and not just screams. So, your Monday was rough? Mine, too. Hopefully tomorrow will be better for both of us.

Becca said...

I am absolutely terrified of my girls getting older. It doesn't help that my parents remind me that what comes around goes around and they are going to be twice as bad as I was! Oh, I so hope not! So while you are in a spiritual renewal retreat, I will be next door at the loonie bin if it makes you feel any better!

H F W said...

So you mean I'm not going to have it all figured out any time soon?! lol. I hope your Tuesday is better. I really admire you for being able to parent four kiddos. It seems so challenging because like you said they are bound to hit different yet equally hard developmental milestones at the same time! Yikes!
Thanks for sharing, mama.

Jenners said...

And I thought you had this mothering thing all figured out!!! I can't imagine having 4 kids and them all having meltdowns at the same time. I think summer vacation is really hard on kids and parents ... I wish we had year-round school. And I only have 1 kid!!!

Jenn said...

This just started for me with my 16 month old and her fits and tantrums that she know throws. They are a mystery. She had a bad day today which is why it is 8:30 and I'm going to bed. Mama tired. I don't know how you do it with four! I guess none of us are experts but it really does make life interesting!

Don said...

I think parenting is like feeding a family: you do the best you can with what you've got. Luckily for parents, kids are quite resilient, and often simply need the gift of time and support as they grow up. "Each day has enough trouble of its own..." and "His mercies are new every morning..." are good supports for the journey of parenting. I'd say you are far from being a Rookie, but parenting is done almost exclusively by amateurs. It's one of life's greatest challenges, mostly because we care so much about the outcome.

Don

Fresh Mommy said...

Being a mom is definitely an adventure!! I think the fact that they picked up that sensitive gene can be a good thing... though sometimes difficult for mommy to handle. :) I'm sure you're a wonderful mom, raising some wonderful kids!

:)
~Tabitha

Teri said...

Now that my kids are teens, I think I question my mothering abilities even more. I had hoped it would get easier. It just seems to be getting more scary. Argh.

Jillien said...

i have a 2 and a half year old and I often feel like I'm completely inadequate at dealing with her emotions. She's super sensitive, and she gets it from her father... this is an emotion that I don't share much of and I feel like I can be hurtful because I'm not delicate enough with her feelings.

You're post was a reminder to me that we are all different and need to be dealt with individually and with care.

JM

Caitlin said...

Thank you for your honesty- I am certainly not looking forward to the older-kid-emotion-psyche! If Joseph is upset now, it is really and truly just because he wanted that cup I had!

Michelle said...

And here I keep thinking that once I'm past the threes it'll all get better! Apparently not :) Good luck!

Wendy said...

I totally agree with you. Life with kids is an adventure. Sometimes I think...oh my gosh...i cant do this.....but we do....we find our motherly instinct....and we take care of our kids.

T Rex Mom said...

I agree with you - motherhood and parenthood in general is on the job training. It actually makes me feel a little better that even after 4 kids you still feel like you are learning. I feel so challenged with one. It's good to know I don't have to have everything solved in order to move on to #2.

Shaye said...

I think it's a healthy thing to still feel like a rookie. We work so hard to figure their little minds out and then they surprise us again and again and again...I'll check back with you in 14 years. I imagine we'll all still feel like rookies. LOL It's wild because most of my friends who are MY age have kids in their teens. I'm still nursing and thinking about another one day...on down the road, that is.

Hugs,

~Shaye

Randi said...

Having raised two teens I can definitely tell you that the emotions don't last forever. The tantrums come and they go, but as long as you are their constant, they will feel anchored in life. My friend right now has four teens (yup, all at once) and she says it's the best time of her life, just to sit and talk with them and hear them teasing each other. The tears are only for a moment, but the joy is right around the corner.

Randi said...

Oops, I forgot one thing I was going to say. If you did pass on sensitivity to your children, that is a good thing. I have found that sensitive children are also sensitive toward others. While dealing with emotion can be hard. it's also a blessing when you see your children being in tune with the needs of other people.

G said...

You want adventures in fun? Try having two children with an eight year gap between them.

There are days where I need to pull my hair out with a pair of tweezers.

Nina P. said...

As I look back I can ‘t even imagine what we did to my mother. :~) That said, she was always there for us, through the good, the bad, and the ugly… Funny how I know it wasn’t all roses, yet that’s what (after all is said and done), I remember. The good times, the do things together times, the be my friend times, the let me be independent times… You are building memories and confidence with your children and teaching lessons along the way. Sounds like you’re a pretty wonderful Mom!! Love and Light, Nina P.

Mon said...

OMG! FOUR! lmao

I'll join you on the sleep retreat. ;)

K said...

I'm still at the mother a two year old stage, but I imagine the challenges just increase with age. Good luck!

And good to know I'm not the only one who feels like a rookie.

Kim said...

I firmly believe that God gives us what we are able to take on. That being said I don't know if I could be as good or effective as you are Kelly! I think that in later years the sensitivity factor in your boys will serve them and their future partners well. Those women will be thanking you for your input. If only now were a bit easier.

kel said...

I don't think any mother actually "figure it out" we just do our best and that is good enough! good luck!

glnroz said...

My hats are off to the "mommies". I dont know how yall get it all done. My youngest of three girls is 25 and they are all the most wonderful beings that I could have ever imagined. Yours will be too. Again, my hat is off to their "momma"..

blueviolet said...

The emotional swings of the teen years were the hardest for me. I just cried right along with them when their hearts were aching.

Valerie said...

I used to wish I had six brains so I could switch one off when things got bad. A 'good' friend used to tell me 'it gets worse' ... only after proof did I believe her :)

Lois Lane II said...

Oh, wow -- I agree with you on people (especially kids and hubby) being able to sense your emotions. When I'm stressed, Hubby can pick up on it, and he then gets stressed, too.

Pegsy said...

There's always something with kids, isn't there? It never really gets "easier" as some people will tell you. It just changes... There's always a new bump in the road to figure out. And I find the emotional storms and heartaches of the older children more difficult to deal with than messy fingers and dirty diapers. It was easy to figure stuff out when they were younger. May God grant you much wisdom as you navigate these teenage years! You are a wonderful, committed Mommy and even when things get tough, your kids will always know you love them!

Glad I could help you out with my Rainy Day post today!

Gerri said...

Yes, it is an adventure. I am learning to be ME and not second guess everything I do. If I do it in love-then it can be ALL bad. :)