Survivor: Child Island

October 12, 2006

So many things to write about, so little energy and time, and the distraction of this terrible, nagging, obsessive thought: that I am a bad mother.

A really bad mother, not a bad-as-in-cool mother: a mother who does not know what to do, who is totally and completely at loss when it comes to managing her ten and half month old baby. I am currently thoroughly convinced that I am doing something wrong, that there is some secret mothering practice pertaining to the care and feeding of babies-cum-toddlers that I have somehow overlooked or that has been kept from me. It’s either that, or WonderBaby is a freak-baby who can totally dominate adult human beings without stirring one of the twelve fluffy little hairs on her downy blonde head. (Some months ago, someone – I think that it was Blog Antagonist – e-mailed me to suggest that perhaps WonderBaby was a ‘spirited’ baby; she said that based upon her reading of WonderBaby’s energy level and general baby comportment, she felt that there was an argument to be made that she, WonderBaby, might be more precocious than the average baby. So we’re not ruling out freak-baby.)

She is constantly on the move. She runs, she clambers, she climbs, she programs and re-programs the DVD player. She slows down occasionally to pluck the glasses off of my face and dangle them before me, hooting her command that I put them back on now, only so that she can repeat the action. Sometimes she comes to a complete, if brief, stop, to place a book upon my lap and hoot at me to turn the pages and read. (Today, that book was, I shit you not, Aristophanes’ Clouds, and no Eric Carle or Lucy Cousins board book would distract her from the tissuey pages of that small Loeb Classical Library hardback. I did not, it may comfort you to know, read to her from the Greek text on the facing pages.) But the pauses in action are only ever brief, and it is never long before the running, hooting and climbing begin anew.

And I – I am only ever part of her circus. There is no sitting quietly aside with book or laptop or cup of coffee (oh god for a quiet cup of coffee); I am compelled to join in her leaping and frolicking and hiding under blankets. And I am, I really am, happy to do this – I love these moments of play. But they are never only moments. The circus, in our house, lasts the whole day long and into the evening, and woe betide the mother who tries to interrupt the revelry for meals or naps or any other activity that involves containment or restraint. The mundane tasks that are necessary for the collective survival of our mother/child dyad – sleeping, drinking, eating, toilet – are hard fought and hard won, if indeed I do manage to win, which is by no means a given.


Each day is a battle of wills – a battle of wills between a thirty-something woman with multiple degrees and a ten and half month old baby.

The baby almost always wins.

Something is wrong with this picture. It cannot be this way for everyone. It simply cannot. How has the human race managed to propagate itself if babies have always been able to overpower their mothers? It is inconceivable to me that, if this is indeed how hard it always is (and don’t get me started on the brutality that labour is, or that breastfeeding can be), more women haven’t just said ‘fuck this’ to motherhood and marched off to convents or the academy or Hollywood or wherever else women go when they want to try to reject their biological calling.


I must simply be a bad mother.

Today, I spent nearly an hour in the toy section of a department store because WonderBaby refused to be put back in her stroller and refused to be carried. I had forgotten the carrier at home, and because we had traveled by subway there was no easy retreat. WonderBaby was entirely engrossed in racing up and down the aisles and removing toys from shelves so that she could climb those shelves, or perch there herself. There was, curiously, no interest on her part in the actual toys on the shelves – just the shelves themselves (and, briefly, some Hot Wheels). Any efforts that I made to restore her to her stroller yielded screeching and arching of back and flinging of tiny self to floor; and efforts that I made to simply lift her and cart her out of there in my arms yielded exactly the same result. I was helpless. At one point, finally, I began to cry.

WonderBaby just looked up at me, pointed at my tear-streaked cheeks, frowned, and hooted. And then dashed back down the aisle.


All that I could think was, this is shameful. I have no control. I don’t know how to parent.

I am a bad mother.

I’m trusting that anyone reading this will understand that I am not in despair about my maternal capabilities. I’m surviving, and I’m loving my child, desperately, through this experience. Every day that I spend with this brilliant little being is filled with great joy. But most days are also filled with tremendous frustration, and confusion. How can it be this hard? How can such a sweet-natured baby be so complicated? Why can I not figure this shit out?

Bubandpie wrote recently about maternal rage, the anger that bubbles up when we feel frustrated beyond measure, and wondered whether the subject was unbloggable. Kristen of Home on the Fringe wrote about struggling with the feeling that she was the only mother in the world with a challenging child, because so few parents seem to blog about such hard times. Well, these are my hard times, and my feelings of frustration, so I’m going to say them out loud: I feel, sometimes, that I cannot manage my child, whatever that means, and I fear that that makes me a bad mother.

I know, deep down, and not so deep down, that I am not really bad. I love my girl, I love her something fierce, and she lives in the light of that love every day. For that, if nothing else, I am a good mother. But I feel like a terrible fuck-up with the rest of it.

Could somebody please tell me that it’s not just me, that it is, sometimes, this hard? Maybe not for all mothers, all of the time, but maybe, just maybe, for some of us, some of the time?

And? How, exactly, does one manage a hyper-mobile, precocious baby? She’s too young for any sort of reasoned discipline – for any discipline – and can’t be argued with. How do I stay in charge?

Will to Power in repose.

********

So many thanks to all of you who had such kind and supportive things to say in response to my gloomy Charlie Brown post of the other day. And, ditto to all of the whoots and rah-rahs in response to my Mommybloggers.com profile. All of it was wonderful, and all of it made me feel better during this very challenging week.

*******

I’m aware of this whole content-theft issue, and the Bitacle debacle, which you can read about here and here and here. There are a zillion things that I want to say about it – not least, fuck you sploggers for causing MamaTulip to shut down – but it hurts my head too much, and my limit for head-hurtage is very low right now. I will say this for now: if you are reading this on Bitacle, you are reading stolen material and if you know this already but continue to read, you should be ashamed of yourself. Oh, yeah, and? Fuck Bitacle.

*This content is the copyright of the author and may not be used without express permission.*

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    { 96 comments }

    Melissa October 13, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    You are not a bad mother. Trust me on this one. Um…she does sound spirited. It sounds like Wonder Baby is just like my daughter Maya. It’s funny, but I thought all babies were like that, until I had my second. Each stage with a spirit child has it’s good and bad points. But just know you are definetly not alone. And you are not a bad mom, just a worn out one.

    crazymumma October 13, 2006 at 2:39 pm

    Round two.

    I had to come back and add that of course you are Not a Bad Mother. You are merely human. And they are a force of nature.

    I was thinking about this post all morning because I am going through some fairly heavy stuff chez moi, regarding parenting and doing the right thing for my children.

    I cannot even count how many times I have cried over not thinking that I was getting it right.

    Wonderbaby is not spoiled. She is 10 and a half months old. She is being little…..enjoy.

    kfk October 13, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    Rage? Yes, a lot of days. Frustration? Yes, almost every day.
    Now that I have only one toddler in my presence, I can tell you it gets a little easier when you can reason with them. But the energy level is always there. Theirs, not mine.

    jenny October 13, 2006 at 2:51 pm

    There are a million comments on here (and I didn’t read them all—I have to go vacuum!), but I had to chime in. I also got a very strong-willed first child. my sister and everyone else I know has a compliant first child, so they got their feet wet on an easy personality. But here we are with tough kids right off the bat ands it’s hard. Bang-your-head-against-the-wall Hard!! I am a survivor, though, and he’s 11 years old in two weeks. It gets Easier in some ways, but now that he is released to the public (in school), my visions are shattered. he’s not at all the compliant kid I was, and I can’t understand why he challenges authority! I kept thinking I was failing as a Mom since I couldn’t tame him. Yes, he has spent time in the principal’s office. Oh, yes, he has hit his peers, gotten his mouth washed out with soap at home, and thrown hours-long tantrums that are crazy.

    But the good news is, He Will Grow Up. He will be strong. He’s super intelligent. He will not let anyone walk all over him. He will succeed. He’s already the life of a party (unless it is his sister’s party and he’s terrorizing the girls).

    Hang in there. You’re not a bad mother, and actually you must be a great mother. The bad moms get easy children! This child is in your life for a reason, and you’re in her life for a reason.

    nomotherearth October 13, 2006 at 3:02 pm

    You are sooooooooo not alone, and nowhere near a bad mother! The Boy is like “that little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead”. He sweetly chatters and putters away until you (god forbid) do something that he does not want to do. Then all hell breaks loose. More times then I can count, I’ve been subjected to the Omigod-what-did-you-just-do-to that-child-to-make-him-scream-like-that look. It sneaks up on me. I think I’ve done well, and realize that I’ve really done nothing, he was just humouring me.
    I’m with Kittenpie in that I’ve adopted the phrase “I’m sorry, but this is non-negotiable”. Some days, this has been my mantra to get me through.

    Anonymous October 13, 2006 at 3:05 pm

    If you are a bad mother, I am a bad mother too. Because, sister, I have a two year old who has been like your WonderBaby for two freaking years. The only upshot is these little “demanding” children end up acquiring certain skills extremely early on. Mine was not walking at 10.5 months, but was talking and by age 16 months she was talking in complete sentences, and she is bilingual. And she potty trained herself. But ask me if I can get her to change her mind, sit in a stroller, sit anywhere for more than 20 seconds for the love of god, take a nap, the answer is one big frustrating no.

    Lisa b October 13, 2006 at 3:53 pm

    I just want to respond to anon #1 who warns you that it is only going to get worse.
    Mine’s two now and I find things much better than when was at ten months. She understands more now, remembers what she has been told and can communicate better. I hope the same for you.

    Naomi October 13, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    I have a spirited boy, almost 22 months old now. I know the difficult time you are going through. It does get better, as they get older and can express themselves more, you can talk them through things. Although now that he’s bigger he can be more naughty, it’s different, and somewhat easier to deal with.

    I think we all go through what you are goign through. Children are endless energy, and finding ways to channel it is crucial.

    Mom101 October 13, 2006 at 4:39 pm

    Oh sweetie, you’re not a bad mother. You’re an average human. Who can keep up with that stuff all day, all night? Those who say they can are lying or on drugs.

    Anonymous October 13, 2006 at 5:12 pm

    hi don’t feel bad.i am continuosly being outsmarted by my 2 year old.this child is constantly into something,or demanding something,or screaming,or giggling or laughing or dancing or running or …are you getting tired yet?she is an adorable,cherubic ,little darling and she can also wear thin mums last nerve.you are not alone.she is my 4th and i still don’t know everything a good mum should know.but i do love her.she’s been a handful since she decided to wnter this world 7 weeks early,but she’s mine and i’ll keep her .

    toyfoto October 13, 2006 at 5:22 pm

    I wrote about this somewhere, too. It was a shocker. I felt so empowered when she was an infant. So happily surprised at my abilities to calm and sooth and feed and clothe, and wake and sleep. Immediately.
    I was so not prepared for clashing wills and tantrums and feeling at a loss for a fix. Whole days would go by with me just trying to get her to be quiet so I could escape in my mind. I’d give her anything just to get her to leave me alone. It was horrible.
    I wish I could say it gets easier, but I don’t know that it really does. Nothing is ever good enough for our inner critic (I can’t believe I just said something as sappy as that, sorry).

    Hang in, it may not get better but it changes. And that’s promising at least.

    Jaelithe October 13, 2006 at 5:39 pm

    Oh, Her Not Bad Mother, we really do all feel this way sometimes. Many of us feel this way often. Really.

    Human children are incredibly challenging creatures to live with and protect 24 hours a day. That is why, historically, most people used to live in large households, with extended family members or servants or friendly neighbors always nearby to lend poor exhausted overwhelmed mothers a hand.

    Our culture likes to pretend that every woman is born instinctively knowing how to be a mother, and with that pretense comes the implication that any first-time mother who has trouble figuring out how to handle her child’s behavior is somehow broken on a fundamental level.

    But it’s not true; we must learn how to mother; without good guidance from family we only have our children to teach us, and it’s quite an exhausting course, with plenty of opportunities to make mistakes along the way.

    chelle October 13, 2006 at 5:54 pm

    I think most kids go through a challenging stage. All at different times. I most definitely do not think you are a “bad” as in crappy mom. I believe one of the most challenging aspects of being a mother is making it through each transition. Our children are constantly changing and providing new challenges, it is up to us to roll with the punches.

    I know one Mom that is dealing with a high energy kid, that has to take him to the park every morning. Now being in Canada and it becoming winter soon not so much of an option. Swimming always tires out my monster :D An early morning swim class or simple gymnastics may be the ticket.

    oh I was surprised to see even my humble blog on that slog …. interesting to see how this pans out.

    Chantal October 13, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    If WonderBaby is anything like my own “spirited” child (our fourth) I want to say “gear up”. It’s gonna be frustrating and exhausting, but when you see what an amazing person you’ve raised you’ll truly know the meaning of awe.

    She’s not looking for perfect, she’s just looking for there. You’re there.

    Jozet October 13, 2006 at 10:31 pm

    My 4yo made me crash my minivan.

    And after the impact, all she said was “whoa”.

    I had no idea that there ever as such a thing as a toddler who sat still. I just thought that kids spun like tops from dawn till dusk. Or, if their bodies weren’t spinning, their mouths were.

    I have no answers. I mean, I love me some Penelope Leach, and the Gessell Institute has a great series of books called things like “Your Three Year Old: Friend or Enemy”. I like paging through these as we hit each age/stage because even with my nutso kids, it makes me feel like maybe, just maybe, we’re within the realm of normal afterall.

    And if you are a parenting book kind of gal, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka has two fabulous books on raising/disciplining (as in teaching and guiding, not just punishment) spirited kids. I like books. I don’t view them as sacred texts, but sometimes it’s good to hear someone else put in words a discipline plan and philosophy for what I feel intuitively. I know where I want to go with teaching/disciplining my children; I just don’t always know exactly how to get there.

    Anyway, no, despite the blog title, you are not a bad mother. Do bad mothers really write thoughtful and thought provoking essays on their children and the trilas and tribulations of motherhood? No. They just put vodka in the sippy cup.

    Vodka belongs in a martini glass. I’m going to send you a martini glass with the words “Good Mommy” on it.

    PunditMom October 13, 2006 at 11:24 pm

    Having “survived” the toddler stage, I can say you are NOT a bad mother.

    I was convinced I was the worst mother when our daughter was uncontrollable at that stage. There were even moments when I thought I would not survive this motherhood thing without medication of some sort.

    But here were are at age “6 1/2,” and things have settled down. There’s now a little girl living in this house who can control herself (at least in the presences of others, not necessarily at home with us!). Our daughter is definitely “spirited,” but she’s doing fine and I think I am too (most days, anyway!). Just take a deep breath and exhale!

    Nancy October 14, 2006 at 1:16 am

    I have one of those, too, so I can sympathize. Rosie’s constantly in motion, not wanting to be carried or ride complacently in the stroller — but to run run run at full speed or climb climb climb or throw throw throw. Some days I am ready to throw in the towel.

    But then I remember that I’m not doing wrong by her. I’m letting her explore, I’m letting her learn, in the way that she apparently needs. And so, my dear, are you. And that makes you a great mother.

    Also, I’m too lazy to check back through all the comments, but has anyone recommended the book on parenting a spirited child? Dawn of Baleful Regards recommended it to me, and it was amazing to read. Send me a note if you want me to find the title for you.

    ((hugs))

    Mardougrrl October 14, 2006 at 1:56 am

    Oh, my God…thank you, thank you, THANK YOU so much for writing this and so eloquently. I have not been able to formulate my thoughts on this because I am just so TIRED and DESPAIRING and CONVINCED that I am the worst mother in the world for all of the reasons you describe (down to the tantrums about the stroller).

    Toddlerhood is kicking my ass and turning me into someone I don’t want to be.

    Thank you so much. It helps just to know that other mothers are going through the same thing.

    Joker The Lurcher October 14, 2006 at 9:10 am

    i was one of these! and so was my son! i still have huge energy levels which allow a massive amount of productivity in all sorts of ways – see here – but i must have been hellish as a little kid. with my son i taught him very early to hold hands so at least i could stop him running off but we had some wild old times. he turned out to have adhd and aspegers but that doesn’t mean your little one has. she may just be a really busy person. and if she does turn out to have adhd it really isn’t so bad!

    reddragonsangel October 14, 2006 at 9:33 am

    OHHH- I have to tell you -ease up on yourself- you are not a bad mom!! I have a 2 yr old and a 6yr old and I swear some days that if I don’t do something to releive the tension and the frustration- something like tear out my eyeball and throw it against the wall-I will surely die! You are human- and to feel like you are the worst parnt i the world is normal! Every child goes through tough phases and as parents we are at a loss as to what the hell to do- who is this little person and what happened to my darling sweet baby?!!! All I can say is- this too will pass, they grow up so damn fast and in a month or so you will be worrying about something else- and this phase will be a faint memory- I have gone thru that feeling for almost the last 4 years with my son -on and off- to the point where I cry and think that he is really out to get me- that he hates me and there is nothing I can ever do about it- then just when I think I need a rubber room- he gets past it and things are normal and good again?? I wonder what the heck God and Mother nature were thinking? making them so beautiful and cuddly- then also giving them the ability to almost turn us into spineless, wimpering mental cases- then we look at them again anad our hearts almost burst with the love we feel- what a damn roller coaster ride- keep your chin up- this will get better- and KNOW that you are a wonderful mommy- but you are human and some days are wayyyy better than others!!!

    earth.mother.goddess. October 14, 2006 at 12:47 pm

    hi,i know how you feel.i am outsmarted by my 2 year old on a daily basis.this child doesn’t stop.she is perpetual motion.she with the white blond ringlets,the cerulean blue eyes.the infectious giggle.laughing running climbing questioning giggling dancing screaming whining demanding did i mention all the questions.is it possible that i am losing brain cells & baby is getting smarter?you are not alone.she is so adorable wonder baby!my 2 year old is my youngest and she really does keep me running!

    Crunchy Carpets October 14, 2006 at 3:23 pm

    If you could here the noise level and the amount of screaming and yelling that goes on here…you would realize that you are NOT a bad mother.

    Overwhelmed perhaps.

    Everyday is a fight here. Times 2.

    Caity was hell on wheels from the get go and Adam worked up to it.

    We don’t go shopping now as a family….too much trauma…to humiliating.

    Crunchy Carpets October 14, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    Just wanted to add wow about the content theft.

    Alas, nothing new in cyberspace…my dh is famous for an editorial he wrote about unscrupulous online journalism when he was getting sick of his stuff showing up uncredited on other peoples web sites.

    The local movie lady in our paper STILL steals content from the web.

    It stinks that they are trying to make money from it though…

    Their site confuses a simpleton like me though and I can’t figure it out.

    tallgirl October 14, 2006 at 8:27 pm

    i read exactly 3 comments before my head started spinning. My daughter is 9 months old and her father and I fight over who has to dress her because it is about a 10 minute ordeal that feels like much much longer. I was hoping it was something she would outgrow in a month or two.

    anne nahm October 14, 2006 at 9:43 pm

    Oh doll, take care. You are wonderful.

    vasilisa October 15, 2006 at 1:50 am

    My God! Thank you so much for this post! At least I’m not the only one who feels that way… That I completely am controlled by my child (and not the other way around). That he always wins. That in the battle of wills, I’m always one step behind. My son has such a stron will of his own! If he wants something, he’ll move the sky and earth to get it. (That’s why, I’m terrified to admit, but it’s true, he sleeps in our bed, cause he simply refuses the crib, and I can’t stand up to all that crying, cause believe you me, he can cry for hours, and none of that Ferber stuff gets through to him, I tried…) Same goes for his bottle, or not wanting to go in a stroller, or not wanting to get out. Every little victory I have, I feel like a deserve a medal… Who’d've thought that motherhood is that tough?

    Kimberly October 15, 2006 at 9:34 am

    It gets easier. Newly minted toddlers can be tough. And Spirited ones are only more so. Because that’s the thing about Spirited kids–they’re “more.”

    I know whereof I speak. There’s a reason my daughters are 5 years apart, and most of it is due to the older one’s babyhood. Looking back, the two words I would apply would be “relentless” and “exhausting.” I think I flat out sucked as a mother back then.

    But even then, must’ve done something right, because at nearly 8, the Diva Girl is awesome. Still high energy, but awesome.

    Hang in there. It gets better. Worse sometimes too, but always better.

    madge October 15, 2006 at 3:42 pm

    Oh, wait, that’s YOUR baby? Because you just described an average day with my daughter when she was WonderBaby’s age.

    People who don’t have high-energy babies will never understand your frustration and those who have will cry with you for thirteen seconds over a cup of coffee, because, AHHH! THEY’RE OFF AGAIN!

    In my darkest moments, I have been thankful that at least she has a good temperment. High-energy baby + good temperment = CHALLENGING. High-energy baby + sour temperment = me jumping off a bridge.

    Hang in there. There is a gorgeously mellower period between 18 months and 2.5 years. After that, buckle your seatbelt.

    Oh, and, with such a pro-women mother I would have expected Lysistrata…

    radioactive girl October 15, 2006 at 8:23 pm

    I have four kids. My first three (two of them are twins) were so easy that I used to have no idea why my friends said being a mom was such hard work. My fourth has been “difficult” since the day he was born. Even his birth was scary and risky. I love him with all my heart, but there is not one day that he does not test my patience to the limit. He never sleeps, doesn’t ever do anything I ask him to, and generally makes me feel crazy. I love him, I do, but I know the frustration you are speaking of. And then he grabs my face, kisses me and tells me he loves me. This is why I keep on trying.

    Amanda October 15, 2006 at 9:05 pm

    Many times a day I think to myself: Who really is in charge here anyhow? I think that this power struggle that we face with our toddlers (infants and kids too) is something that we all deal with on one level or another. It is hard to judge or make comments about what one parent is doing and whether it is right or wrong because, we do have to remember that each child is different and their own person, which therefore makes our parenting different as well!
    My only advice to you is to stay CONSISTENT! I am giving this advice from the bottom of my heart. As a Kindergarten teacher, I know that consistency is KEY to control! If you say something, you have to mean it and follow through, now matter how hard it is and no matter what the outcome in behaviour from your little on is! So, for example: in the toy store, if you wanted to leave and your little one doesn’t want to go, you tell them in 1 minute you are leaving and 1 minute later, whether kicking or screaming, you leave the store together. Simple as that…I KNOW, it is DIFFICULT, NOT SIMPLE, but over time, Wonderbaby will know that you MEAN business and you will not give in…the fights from her end will gradually diminish.
    You have inspired me to write a post on this!!! I will link to your post if it is okay.

    Waya October 15, 2006 at 9:43 pm

    If you are a bad mother than I’m definitely THE worse mother in the whole world of mothers. Trying to survive a week without the hubbie’s help with three children is not only exhausting but drove me insane enough to raise my voice more than one occasions. Not to mention that I regret it every time but you can’t take those moments back.

    Karen October 15, 2006 at 10:05 pm

    I think I have written this here, before, but it bears repeating.

    She will be strong. You will be glad for it.

    And you? You will also be strong. As the previous 81 comments may suggest, you are not alone.

    Rock the Cradle October 15, 2006 at 10:07 pm

    HBM. It’s not just you. Boy is it ever not. If fact, the response you have to this post soothes me as well. Because, I too, have a non-stop existence.

    I too have a climber. And a runner. And a jumper (who is now instigating her little play buddies to “jum, Kah (or Kay-see), JUM!”

    She now wants to walk (her version involves at interludes grabbing both my hands and swaying her little bod all over creation) everywhere. And has been refusing to sleep at naptime.
    All I’ve been able to come up with for managing is benign neglect, and tickling.

    She will still have to wait till naptime is over before she can come out of her room (I can’t say out of her crib as she figured her way out of that at about 9 months). I’ll break up peiods of washing dishes with a short book or a snuggle (which are more fun anyways).

    When it is time to go, be it from the playground, the library, a particularly enticing staircase or garage door, I say “It’s time to say “bye playground!” (or library or books, or slide, or whatever is God at the moment). And that, for whatever reason, works, and we are free to go on to the next thing. If it doesn’t, I pick her up upside down, swing her around a couple of times and blow raspberries into her belly until she laughs and is distracted enough to haul away.

    “You may not…” is also becoming much more of a phrase, followed by “throw the book” or “kick Mommy”. She is beginning to get the message.

    I hope.

    Reesh October 16, 2006 at 12:02 am

    Well thank god someone is posting about how freakin’ hard this job can be. I feel your pain and I take comfort knowing that I am not alone and you should too. Thank you and good luck.

    Ruth Dynamite October 16, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    Sometimes it is this hard, and no, you’re not a bad mother for feeling like you’re on the fritz – but you already know this.

    She will run you ragged for awhile, this is true. (And it’s hard. And exhausting.) But as time goes by, and she starts to speak (!!!), you will find time to catch your breath and appreciate how amazing all of this really is. Then (gulp) you’ll want another. :=)

    something blue October 16, 2006 at 5:16 pm

    I have long ago submitted to the fact that my children rule me with their demands and I go with the flow. Does this make me a good mother? No according to my husband this is Very, Very Bad because I’m spoiling them. So even though it is a little bit easier on me with this acceptance, it is causing stress within the marriage because it frustrates the hell out him. He would like to be enforcing rules and following society norms. (Example early bedtime routine) I know that if they go to bed later then they won’t wake up in the middle of the night or at a godly hour.

    So it may look like I’m giving into to them but I do it with wisdom. If giving them an arrowroot cookie before supper means one less tantrum, so be it. It is one more piece of my sanity intact.

    jchevais October 17, 2006 at 11:39 am

    My daughter was like this. It drove me batshit.

    She’s survived… Well… … I did…. She’s 6 now and the brightest ray of sunshine around. When she isn’t singing or dancing, turning cartwheels in the living room or acting the clown, she is the most reasoning, helpful little busy body that you ever did see.

    If you question your good vs. bad mothering skills, you’re more than likely a “good” mom. The fact that you even think to ask yourself that question is testimony enough.

    Hang in there.

    Tats October 17, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    Motherhood is at once joyous and frustrating. Sometimes I want to have a nervous breakdown just to get away from the screaming. Other days, I can’t believe I’m incredibly blessed with a beautiful child.

    Hang in there. Remember, your child’s strong will may be hard to deal with now, but you will be glad she has that confidence when she gets older. So many women nowadays with low self-esteem. If you can keep her adventurous, strong willed self intact and controlled, you will have a wonderful, confident daughter when she’s an adult.

    Rachel October 19, 2006 at 11:30 am

    Sweetie you ARE NOT a bad mother. Kids will almost always overpower us as mothers, maybe not their fathers, but definitely their mothers. As a mother it is hard to tell your child no and have them look at you with disappointment and then, as you said, fling themselves on the floor or backwards or whatever, but rest assured, we all go through it and, yes, some just don’t want to admit it. Love and guidance are the most important parts of raising kids, don’t forget that!

    Karyn October 21, 2006 at 10:36 am

    Girl, no. It’s not you.

    First, our kids crap all over the person who loves them most and who is most likely to stick by them forever, so try to console yourself with the knowledge that she is secure in your love for her.

    Second, both my kids are “spirited” and one has Asperger’s Syndrome on top of it, so I assure you, I know of whence I speak when I tell you It’s Not Just You. I have totally had the conversation – with myself – that goes “It Can’t Be Like This For Everyone”.

    Third, we went through – and still go through – weeks when we Do Not Leave The House Because Your Behavior Is Atrocious. I still do not let them walk freely in the mall or the grocery store, instead jamming and strapping their little carcasses into carts or strollers or whatever will contain them.

    You do what gets you through it. Pick your battles. It’s all good. Love the blog, btw.

    Mama C-ta October 24, 2006 at 10:46 pm

    Oh hun, I feel for you. I do. I wish I had some words of wisdom for you but I’ve shed the public tears myself for this same reason.

    Mama C-ta October 24, 2006 at 10:47 pm

    sorry, wrong account! Now I can sleep tonight.

    Mama C-ta October 24, 2006 at 10:51 pm

    Last comment, I swear! I forgot to mention that before and soon after Cricket was born I wanted no less than 3 kids. Everything you’ve mentioned is why my new motto is “One and done.” It breaks my heart really but I just don’t have the stamina for him and others. Or patience and I already feel like the worst mom in the world.

    bunmaster October 25, 2006 at 12:34 am

    Late to this as usual & because I too fear I am the worst mother in the world, don’t know whether blaming the baby yet again makes me feel worse. Also, I’m totally jealous of the fact that you even have time to write about this so eloquently. But that is my problem. Unlike our “spirited children” of which we seem to share models. I am at the point where I’m trying to get a new doctor so I can ask about medication to keep me sane. The intensity of my rage, the impotence of my impatience & the frustration of having to deal with screaming, thrashing, grabbing & now toddling is putting me over the edge & I do not like the person that I am becoming under this stress. I just keep telling myself that it’s just a phase, another leap or I gotta get a hold of myself. I don’t know…. I guess I have no words of wisdom but I thought I’d add to the masses & commiserate. Thanks for writing what I’m feeling because I certainly don’t have time for it.

    Anonymous December 13, 2006 at 3:41 pm

    My oldest daughter, now 15, was and still is an extremely willfull person and a very physically active child. To say your dauaghter will calm down and slow down to any large degree is probably just wishful thinking and a pipe dream. to give you some perspective from where I sit… My own mother, my daughters grandmother was a former Marine and retired milatry officer who had 3 children , in DIAPERS , at the same time(a set of twins) in her forties…she made the comment to me one day after babysitting for my duaghter that “all 3 of us where not as much work as one of her” She was frazzled, and this was a women who NEVER got frazzeled.
    as one of your responders say “it is a white knuckle ride” and that is very true. Get ready! Pray for patience, guidence and self control becuase you will need it…every ounce of it.
    The only bit of wisdom I can possibly give is….
    do not try to change her…do not try to slow her down or put a lid on her, it will not work and it will only serve to frustrate and exhaust you and make her feel inadaquate. Just try to guide her as best you can and accept that this is who she is and understand you will NEVER change her your best bet will be to keep reasonable control and try to guide her active personaility into challenging ways. Sports are going to be key for you.
    REMAIN CALM YOURSELF! do not negotaite, do not comprimise and do not let her win the big battles! if she needs to go into her car seat, PUT HER THERE! if she screams let her scream..she is not being hurt, she will survive and she will arrive at her destination safely.
    To think that you will win every battle with a willfull child, you will not…you are not superwoman.
    for those people who have never had a child like this they will never understand, but those of you who have multiple children and you have one like this you know exactly the “nightmare” it can be. I may be brutely honest here but I have to be. Many people would like to “put lipstick on a pig” and say it’s “exillerting” or just more “challenging”…Bull shit! It can be a battle. There will be wonderful moments but there will be many struggles..and in my case …she didn’t “grow out of it” it just grew in a different direction.
    When she gets older and wants to debate everything, DON’T. There must be very little if any discussion with children like this. You must say YES or NO and leave it at that. If you get into a debate with her…if like my daughter…she will ware you down..she will micro-focus on what she wants and try to “work you over”. Do not try to reason or negotiate with a willfull child. Remain calm and stand your ground and above all “never let them see you sweat”. Sounds harsh and battle like but it is true. If they realize you are strong and unwavering they will ease up…but only a little. They NEVER quite trying becuase they love to win…always.
    You will need time for youself. Time to decompress…daily!
    a hot bath, a quite room and cup of tea, a cocktail, whatever…you will need it..use it!
    Above all, do not question weather you are a good or bad mother…most of us are good mothers with a few bad mother moments, we are human. and with a willfull, high activity child motherhood is put to its most difficult test. You sound like a good woman who wants to do the best by her child. Accept yourself for you are as a mother and just do your best. Will it be enough for her, probably not, will you often think, “what am I doing wrong” “what is with her” “why is she never content?” YES!! will it do you any good to keep worrying over those questions, NO. you will just loose alot of yourself, your spirit and your enthusiam for parenting. I have spent 15 years asking myself those questions and more and I still have no answers…and doubt I ever will.

    Grantmegrace October 9, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! It is SOOOOO that hard… and if it makes you feel better… I have a three year old boy, and a two year old girl… I’ve been doing this for a while… AND, a Masters in Developmental Psychology… and oh frick, it just is that hard. They are loved, but I am oh so weary… and longing to escape for thirty minutes alone with a cup of tea. Thank you for being honest… You make me feel better, because to be frank, I thought I was missing the secret parenting info that would make it all fall in to place. Today I was at a baby shower with my friends… all thirty something, multi-degreed, well spoken women of excellence… and then our children entered the room… CHAOS ensued… and I smiled.. because, I am not alone.

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