Admitting our personal failures with our parenting can often be a tough thing to do. For me, I'm one of those people who always sees my f*ck ups. When people tell me I'm a good mum, that little voice in my head says 'yes but you didn't see me go banshee on them this morning.'
When people tell me my children are a credit to me, that voice tells me, 'but you don't know that they literally watched TV all day today.'
There is always that niggle that I am completely screwing my children up somehow. That when they are older, all their misgivings and things they fall short on will be a direct correlation of my parenting them when they were young.
I don't always try my best. Some days I know they shouldn't have two more cookies, or play another hour on the iPod. Some days I know I should stop Olive from bathing her Barbies and the whole bathroom floor, or that I really should make them have a bath. Some days I know, and I choose not to care.
Everyone has those days, I know. Except I've noticed that those moments of giving in and saying yes to placate the short term are growing closer and closer together - especially with Olive.
She seems to get away with murder. For so long, she was an adorable little toddler with a cranking attitude - and we encouraged that. We encouraged her feistiness and allowed her to be headstrong because we always figured she would need these qualities when dealing with assholes or bullies later in life. And I was proud of her determination. I relished in her ability to hold her own with the older kids. I celebrated her stubborn independence.
And now she is almost 4. She is still all of these things, plus a whole bunch more. She whinges, she moans, she cries, she says no to everything, she doesn't do as she's told, she doesn't care if she's in trouble, she won't sleep on her own, she pees where she shouldn't, she doesn't eat what she should, she refuses to use things the right way (namely the toilet - instead leaving the seat up and sitting with her butt almost touching the water!), she dances when she's meant to be eating, she walks her feet up the wall when she's supposed to be sleeping. She says 'I love you more' whenever I say 'I love you'. She runs to hug me when I collect her from kindy, she says funny things all the time, when I lie with her to get her to sleep she says, 'hug me mummy.' She sings songs while she plays. She sings songs in the toilet. She loves me painting her nails. She cuddles me and tells me I'm her bomb-diggity.
Do you see my issue? My sweet little girl fluctuates so quickly from a non-compliant 3 year old to a dear wee girl who loves to please and who beats her drum to her own tune.
I struggle with this. I struggle with discipline with her and struggle daily with the small battles. It's all very well for people to say choose your battles, but I already feel like I do! And then I reflect at the end of the day and feel like I let her get away with far too much!
I certainly remember 3 being worse than the Terrible Two's with Jaxon and Meisha, so I guess it could definitely be a case of that, but by golly I don't recall them being as defiant as Olive! I know this probably reads as a very negative post, and I suppose it is. There is a lot going on for our family at the moment.
The school holidays are almost over, and last Sunday Eddie fell off a skate ramp and shattered his shoulder blade. He requires surgery and at least three months off work. Thankfully ACC will cover 80% of his income but already being a one-income family, this is still a big blow to our daily living. Not to mention the pain he is in and his required recovery and physiotherapy after surgery.
He can't do much at all right now, and even though I will always stand by and step up, it also puts a lot more responsibility on me. Everything is down to me now - he only has use of one arm so cannot help with household chores, cannot drive, cannot pick Olive up, cannot help with bathing her, cannot lie with her to get to sleep, cannot cook, cannot even properly shower himself at the moment. -You get the point. And this is not a moan or a put down of my husband, I love him to pieces. I'm just scrambling to make sure everything is taken care of. We are getting there, and once school is back and his surgery is done, we will find our feet even more.
I guess today, after a very long week, I finally sat up and took note of the effect Olive's behaviour has on me. And it's not a good one. It is stressful and frustrating and I need to help her change it. So very soon, I think we will be bringing in a proper Time Out spot, and perhaps giving a Star Chart a go. If anyone has any other ideas, I'm all ears!
For now, I just want to get through the next few days. It has been crazy hot and humid here in Auckland, so I think swimming at Grandmas may be on the cards tomorrow. Then it's my sweet Dad's birthday on Sunday, so we will go and celebrate with cake! He is awesome and is going to have the kids that night, so I can take Eddie in to the hospital on Monday morning at 7.30am for his surgery.
And then we will make the plan for the next few days. I think taking it slow is the best bet at this stage - if I think too much about all the things that need sorting and addressing, I think I might just cry!
And right now, I am going to go and kiss this beautiful little face and whisper in her ear, "I love you more."