Writing Workshop: This Too Shall PassSeptember 15, 2011
Okay, no fair. I already posted on 3. An inappropriate time to laugh (Writing Workshop: Laugh It Up).
So I’ll tackle 5. Advice to new mothers.
Except I’ll tackle from this point of view: with your first, you’ve never had a newborn, you’ve never had a toddler, you’ve never had a grade schooler, and you’ve never had a middle schooler… And with your subsequent children, you’ve never gone through that stage with THAT child.
To the new mother who doesn’t know if the child will ever stop crying: yes, she will. And you will survive. Will the child ever sleep through the night: yes, he will, and yet you may still find yourself never getting a full night’s sleep without a little Unisom no matter how old he is. The thing to keep in mind is that most often everything you go through with a child is a stage or developmental milestone. Some of those things can be silly and enjoyable—how many times have you nodded your head in agreement when someone says, “All those presents and all she wanted to do was play with the boxes?” Others can be more challenging and frustrating. T1 was in full-blown I’m going to challenge you and freak out when you give me chores to do, etc. at 8 1/2 years old! I thank God for her teacher who could guide me through this stage and gave me pointers on how to redirect T1’s normal and natural inclinations to push boundaries at home (she would never dare do it at school) because she felt comfortable enough to know I would still love her.
And just when you think you have finally come to the light at the end of the tunnel and you actually like your child again, another new stage and frustration will pop up.
With the subsequent children I would caution mothers not to get too comfortable. T2 had a box obsession at pretty much the exact same age at T1. Cute. Got the pictures to go along with it. But with the more trying things… All those things I mentioned going through with T1 at age 8 1/2, T2 decided to start that at 7 1/2. Sometimes I feel sorry for T2 because when I recognize a “stage” I look at her and say, “Oh no. You need to ask yourself if you think your sister got anything positive out of doing this when she was your age. I’ve been through this before and I’m not going to put up with it for long from you. I’ve already got the t-shirt.”
At other times, T2 forges her own ground and stages. T1’s follow the rules and please the teacher attitude makes her a dream student. T2 has totally different motivations—she needs to know what’s in it for her. The Preschool teacher wanted a conference because she didn’t think T2 knew her vowel sounds. Turns out, T2 just didn’t want to answer the teacher. Repeated that little number in kindergarten for her report card—only had to give the teacher 2 words that began with the letter R (had done this for the previous 4 letters) but wouldn’t till we told her she couldn’t go to 1st grade without telling the teacher what she knew, and spit out “Oh all right, Reggie Rooster!” Imagine her disappointment when she didn’t get to go to 1st grade the next day.
Right now at Back to School Night, DH and I had to talk to both of her teachers and her enrichment teacher about how “boredom is the enemy” and all three of them have said in the four weeks of school they have already seen that she is ahead of all her classmates (even though she is one of the youngest). I’ve had a 4th grader before, but none like T2.
I think the only thing that got me through some trying times, not knowing if there was a light at the end of the tunnel, was a “Reset Button” attitude. No, you can’t repeat the day (and I’m not sure some days you’d want to do that) but you can start fresh the next day. When I put the children to bed, I have my down time. Scrapbooking, vegging in front of the TV, playing games on FB… anything to put my batteries on a charger and not think about the day. Tomorrow is another day. Maybe tomorrow will be the day the stage ends or the child just wakes up in a more cooperative mood. It doesn’t matter—with a little sleep and not dwelling on the day before, the chances you’ll have a better day go up exponentially.
The other thing I learned is that your daily attitude is a choice too. I was going through a particularly rough patch with T1 and T2 was just along for the ride. As I’d fling open my bedroom door and scream (oh, yes, it would get that bad) at them to stop fighting or pick up their clothes strewn all over the hallway, I was thinking that I had woke up in the bad mood and was taking it out on them. It was becoming almost daily. Then one day I lay in bed and I listened to the number of times they were shouting at each other, all before 8 AM, and I counted the number of times I would have yelled, “Stop it now!” That morning I had an epiphany and I shared it with them as we met at the front door to leave.
“I’ve been listening to you all morning. Because you got up before you were called, you woke me up from MY sleep X amount of times. You were shouting at each other, singing way too loudly, dropping things, slamming things, shouting at each other again, and fighting in the bathroom. Any other day, I would have been screaming at you and thinking I was waking up in a bad mood and taking it out on you. Guess what? When you woke me up before my alarm, I was happy. I felt great. And the more I listened to you, the madder I got. You guys are setting the tone for the day, not me. If you want to have a screaming momma, keep it up. I won’t feel guilty any more. It is time you start thinking about your behavior before the crack of dawn! You can’t get along, don’t leave your rooms till you’re called or just accept that you will be punished for the rest of the day.”
Our days got better after that wake up call. And I do make an effort that if I wake up in a bad mood, I try not to take it out on them. Oh they still have their doozy mornings and we have a reminder talk, but generally the tone of the day starts better, even if it goes down the drain later. That’s when I look forward to my Reset Button.
1.) Locked out.
2.) Write about a time you wanted to disappear.
3.) An inappropriate time to laugh.
4.) A time you hurt a friends feelings.
5.) Advice to new mothers.
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