November 26, 2009

"Off" button

Do you ever wish you had one of these in your head? Sometimes I do. Ok well a lot of the time I do. Sometimes I wish I had an "off" button for the moments that I know I am just emotionally eating (mostly when I am missing Nick) and I down 5 pieces of pizza, 3 bread sticks and big bowl of ice cream with out even flinching. Sometimes I wish I had an "off" button when at night I am trying to fall asleep and I just keep tossing and turning because my mind won't shut down. I'm either replaying the days events over and over in my head or I'm thinking about the next day and how I should have gone to bed earlier because Toby is about to wake up in 5 hours. But most of all, I wish I had an "off" button for the mommy guilt. I swear it plagues us all. Its that little voice in your head that says, "You are not doing a good job. You handled that badly. Other people are think you are making lots of mistakes."

I know this is a weird post for Thanksgiving. I should be writing about all the things I am grateful for - and that would be a HUGE list, I tell you what. But I will save that one for tomorrow I think. Right now I need to get what is weighing on me completely off my chest and send it out in the cyberworld.

So let me recap: Thanksgiving was wonderful. We had both sets of parents over at my house, as well as Nick's sister and family. We had a classic Thanksgiving experience: we savagely stuffed ourselves with all kinds of delectable, buttery foods for the entire day and then sat around and talked and played the Wii. It was a great time. The only thing that kept nagging at me the entire day was feeling like I was being judged for how Toby behaved - or didn't behave I should say. You see, most of the time during the week its just me and the Tobester. We have occasional play dates but he's very accustomed to us being the dynamic duo day in and day out. I should also mention that Toby is teething, thus he is not sleeping or eating well at all, thus he is much more cranky. So when we suddenly had 10 extra bodies in the house, I had a feeling my emotional little guy would have something to say about it. More like something to scream about. He screamed when he was excited. He screamed when it was too noisy. He screamed when he wasn't getting enough attention - or got too much. He screamed when some of the boys were playing with his basketball. He screamed when someone asked him a question he didn't like. He screamed over everything. And these weren't your average toddler meltdown screams...these were ear-piercing-make-the-entire-room-go-silent screams. I was so embarrassed, frustrated, and I hate to admit it, but angry. So a few times I just snapped at Toby and said "ENOUGH! We do not act that way!" (completely contradicting myself). Later, Nick told me how embarrassed he was because of the way I lashed out at Toby in front of everyone. I tearfully apologized and simply said I was just at my wits end. Between the over crowded house and over stimulated little boy I felt well, overwhelmed. Not only that but I felt like everyone was judging me for Toby's constant screams. I hastily concluded that they must all think he is the way he is because of my bad parenting.

No sooner had we said our goodbyes and shut the front door - bam! All the guilt consumed me: "I'm such a bad mom. Every thinks I am a short tempered crazy person who doesn't know how to control her son.. I am such a bad mom" And then another part of me was like: "If only they had read my Mirena post on my blog, then they would understand"(FYI - I originally decided to keep Mirena until the Holidays were over but am now second guessing myself). yeah the mommy guilt really hit hard tonight. I just really feel like all I do or don't do is directly reflected in Toby's behavior. And from what people witnessed earlier today, that means I am doing a terrible, terrible job.

But every so often during my sulking I get this soft impression that is trying so hard to sink in. This "feeling" keeps reminding me that Toby, just like every other person on the planet, has something that I can't control. Not even with all the good parenting in the world: his agency. I can be the most patient, kind, long suffering mother ever but Toby is still Toby. Basically: I can't control his actions - but I can control mine. This tiny little thought has made me feel just a little bit better. I'm trying with everything inside of me to believe it and just brush today's events behind me and start fresh tomorrow. Its so hard though. Mommy guilt is not easily cured.

So I'm sorry about the grim Thanksgiving post. But I do feel a bit better. Tomorrow (or Saturday or Sunday) I promise to deliver something more upbeat.

By the way....I still wish I had an "off" button. :)


Jessie said...

Oh Debbie. I SOOO feel the same way sometimes. That "off" switch would be most useful for me when falling asleep! If I'm tired, I can't handle even the smallest noises and stresses. Then I lose it, then the guilt comes. Argh.

I think you're doing awesome! Come on, you have a high-strung kid that no one else loves or understands like you do. They may judge (or maybe they're not even judging at all), but they can't possibly know what YOU know about your little guy. It's totally admirable that you always try to learn from mistakes and do better. I know it's hard not to obsess over what others think of your parenting (I do that too), but you're a MOTHER! The hardest job in the world. You're clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, helping the sick - all the time. You're doing awesome! Losing your cool and learning from that is all part of the deal (I sound all wise, but I'm saying this to myself as well).
Anyway - I'm glad you posted this. We moms need each other.
My "judgment" is that you're doing great!

Kristina said...

What a rough day! I'm sure you're a great mother and I hope those people didn't judge you for a one time thing. Good luck!!

Karisty said...

Everyone has their moments, you wouldn't be human if you didn't get overwhelmed sometimes. Just from observing since I don't have my own kids yet but it seems sometimes kids need a little "shock" that comes from mom yelling or being more harsh than normal to get them to stop and take notice amidst the craziness. I'm not saying yelling alot is good but once in a while it's warranted especially if all your other attempts at getting them to listen to you have gone unheeded. If mom never yells when she does they know it's serious. You're better than you give yourself credit for! You're doing a great job.

Colleen said...

Seriously, the moment you even conceive a baby, the guilt begins. Parenting is hard. That's just a fact. I think every mom on earth understands. It would be super nice to be able to control those little ones, but unfortunately it's just not gonna happen. I just like to start every day trying to be a better mom than I was yesterday. That's all we can do!