Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Bad Days

Most of the time I feel like someone who doesn't quite know how to juggle but is performing in a circus juggling act every day anyway (Did I just call myself a clown? :shudder  I am NOT that scary! Clowns are evil.  :shiver).  Four kidlets means that at any given moment at least a couple of them are in disequilibrium, and there are always a myriad of other things--teething (it doesn't stop at toddlerhood, folks!  Molars hurt, and they come in around 6 and 12), an ear infection, a tummy bug, developmental jumps, friend issues, anxiety, fill in the blanks and take your pick.  It is a struggle to meet all the needs when resources (energy, time, money for starters) don't always seem to stretch.
A Juggler that juggles
I won't even tell you about all the creepy pics I looked though to find one that wasn't a clown.

Early on, I kept hoping that our parenting choices would mean that everything was easy.  Our kids trust us, you know.  They want to please us because our relationship is good.  They are learning internal motivation and discipline. 

And it is true.  But.  BUT.

There is no easy button.  Our kids do trust us and want to please us and they are developing internal motivation and all those other things that we desperately (but sometimes a little smugly) repeat to ourselves early in the whole gentle discipline journey.  That makes it easiER, but not easy.

We have had some really rough days lately.  I have found myself more than once turning to my husband in exasperation and saying, "They should have outgrown that by now!"  I hear the doubts that maybe, just maybe, it would be worth it to trade relationship for compliance, just a bit.  I can say all the things about this being different from permissiveness and I believe them, but the truth is that I feel tired sometimes and permissiveness doesn't seem all that bad, until I really, really need compliance and where is the line exactly, anyway?

Gentle discipline isn't a pre-cut pattern.  Applying it to real life is hard, and I am often afraid that I have made it the wrong size.  All of our kids are strong-willed, but two are particularly intense (I suspect borderline special needs) and just as one seems to be making progress and I think I can catch my breath, all heck breaks loose with the other one. 

So I am reminding myself today that even on the bad days, I am not doing this because of a guarantee.  I am doing this because it is what God has called me to do.  It is about being the kind of person that I am meant to be, not just who my children are meant to be.  Even though it is still hard, I do see the fruit.  It isn't all perfectly ripe yet (they are still kids, and I am only nine years old as a mom), but it is growing.  And while I was typing, the one who has been having the roughest time came over to me to snuggle and smooch my cheek and say how much she loves me.  I look at the trust in her eyes and imagine how much more difficult the last couple of days would be if that were broken, if she knew I would just bully her into compliance.

Gentle discipline doesn't mean there won't be bad days.  It just gives me better tools and a stronger foundation to work through them.

Image credit: Mike Fernwood/Don Fulano on Flickr


becca said...

thanks so much for your honesty. i needed to hear this today!

Rose ASL said...

If watching my kids and my 17-year-old little brother provides any insight, I'd say the teen years are as bad as the terrible twos. And they can yell louder. Just be prepared. And remember it's actually normal, for a year or so, for them to hate you. The less you acknowledge their hatred the faster they'll get over it.

Maria said...

We've had a string of few bad days too, and I had begun to doubt. Your post was very timely for me. Thank you, Dulce, for sharing your journey so openly. <3