Monday, January 4, 2010

Resolutions, Schmesolutions

I can't quite figure out if it's now hip to make resolutions, or hip to NOT make resolutions.

Maybe I'm a big square because I call things "hip". Should I say "groovy"? or "BAD"? or maybe "That's so hot".

I never claimed to be current with the trends. Or cool. I think my "mom-gene" has kicked in and blinded me to anything that is the least bit popular or fashionable.

Anyway, I have been thinking about resolutions. After last year's set of resolutions that I made (by the way, I was oh-for-twelve) I had to think long and hard if I wanted to commit myself to any goals. Because, ya know, I'm all about lowered expectations. But seriously, I don't want to make goals if I'm not even going to TRY to keep them. And what is it about New Year's resolutions that make them be forgotten so quickly?

The only goal I could really think of was made after some introspective reflection of the answer to the question "How were your holidays?" The honest answer is that I did NOT enjoy my holidays very much. Sally has turned into a typical 2-year-old. "NO!" and "I do THIS!" and, unfortunately, "STUPID!" (can you believe she learned that word from Elmo in Grouchland?) Also, my kids fought with each other a lot. And I just wanted them to quit, so I would often give them extra TV time or extra computer time, just to get them to stare at something or someone who wouldn't argue with them. Yes, stellar parenting on my part.

The thing that made my holiday the worst, though, was the realization that my children totally own me. I am weak. I will tell them we're having PB&J sandwiches for lunch. They'll respond, "awww, yuck. Can I have a turkey sandwich instead?" to which I'll say, "Can't you just have the PB&J? It is already fixed." and they will say, "Do I have to? I don't want it! I don't like it!"

And then I cave.

(Okay, stop yelling at the screen now. I know that I'm textbook example of bad parenting. You aren't telling me anything I don't already know.)

I am so tired of being played. And, looking at me from the outside, I'd be appalled at myself. I know that I need to say "no" more often, but I just always feel like, "If it's not a big deal to give my kids what they want, then why should I say no?" And the answer is BECAUSE THEY WILL NEVER ACCEPT NO IF I DON'T DELIVER IT AND STICK TO IT.

So, this is why I didn't really enjoy my holidays. It was a constant battle between me and my kids over even the simplest things. "Mom, can I have a snack?" "Sure, you can have either a cheese stick or a yogurt or some Goldfish crackers." "Um, what about a granola bar?" See, I give them 3 perfectly acceptable options, and they STILL try to wrestle me into something else. It is about THEM trying to assert their control which, in essence, isn't so unusual or really such a bad thing. But the problem is that it's gotten out of hand. They do it all the time, over every decision. What clothes to wear, what to eat, what time to play computer, when to do homework, etc.

And, the end result is that I spent a lot of the holiday yelling. And being upset. And making my kids feel guilty. And probably building a wall between me and them. I am realizing that my children are now at the age when it's going to be important to model the kind of behavior I want them to follow. I never believed in "do as I say, not as I do." I'm more of the "practice what you preach" school of thought. I always felt I'd have had a lot more respect for my parents if they could have modeled some behaviors for me, instead of lecturing me about behavior then doing whatever they pleased.

I don't want my kids to grow up to hate me. I don't want them to look back on holidays, vacations, and other things that are supposed to be fun, with memories like, "Remember how mad Mom got that year?" and "Do you think Mom ever has a good time?"

So, this year I guess I've got just two resolutions on my hands:
1. Say "no" and mean it and stick to it. Kindly, with a gentle voice, but firmly.
2. Try to find some fun during family time. Don't focus so much on if everyone is being perfect. Focus more on modeling behavior like smiling, hugging, and forgiving.

Speaking of smiling, I've noticed that a lot of squirrelly behavior can be tamed with a stare, followed up with a smile. Kids get that, and it doesn't make them feel demeaned or punished.

Which, you know, is always nice to see if I can avoid having my kids hate me. But I'm just a freak like that.


Jess said...

I know exactly where you are coming from!! I have felt pretty much the same way the past 17 days and I still have 1 1/2 days until they go back! But who's counting! lol
I think things are ALWAYS more stressful when a new baby is added to the bunch too!! I'm going through the terrible two's without a new baby and I feel like I just want to give up somedays! and because of that my 20 month old screams like a banshee anytime she doesn't get her way until I cave!!
I'm totally pissed at the mother I have become!!
I do like your resolutions though!! Can I use those too? ;)

McVal said...

I will consider myself a successful parent, if when my children grow up, they can afford their own therapy.

Mama B said...

I totally understand, I come from a yelling house so it's sadly only natural for me to yell! I also love the stare down. Most effective mom tool ever!

Emily said...

Man, my kids do that matter what kind of choices I give them they always ask for something else. Sometimes it's hard for me to say no too...I've often found it's easier to just eliminate the choice. For example, I'll put goldfish on the table and say their snack is ready. Then they can either take it or leave it.
Good luck with your resolutions!

Anna See said...

those sound like two excellent goals! his mercies are NEW EVERY MORNING...

Amy O'Connor said...

yeah, I have the same issue. here lately I've been trying to get my son to stop raising his voice at me as well. the hardest part is getting my husband to understand the whole practice what you preach thing. I also wish my parents would have set a better example for us.

Jennifer said...

I think those are great resolutions and the only thing I'm yelling is "QUIT BEING SO HARD ON YOURSELF!!!!" None of us ever do things the right way all the time. At least you realized that you weren't happy with what you were doing and now you can change it. No biggee.

And I am also a rather lenient parent. I think it is just easier that way. And I'm lazy. So I guess I would have said no to the turkey because no way would I have made something else after I had already done one thing.

Bear and Bones Mama said...

Sigh. This post struck a cord in me, too. I too feel as tho I've been giving in a lot. When I say no firmly and mean it, my 5yo will scream and throw something and yell "I hate you!" or some such thing. Which means he has to spend time with his anger in his room, which doesn't always work. He wont' go on his own, or stay in there on his own. And the toy goes away. Sometimes I feel like such a rock star parent and other times I look at myself, like, 'Is this me? Did I really just say that or yell that that or lose my cool like that?' I don't have any answers. I took the Love & Logic parenting class and use some of thoe techniques, I read parenting books, I try. I think they'll turn out to be good people and not sociopaths.

stephanie (bad mom) said...

The stare & smile = genius tactic; I do it to students all the time (and I consider myself a genius, a humble one) AND IT WORKS, just like you said - they feel noticed, possibly a little chagrined but not humiliated. And it's far easier to work into a discussion with a smile than a scowl.

I often challenge my kids & students (and self) to answer "no" queries without saying "no" or "not" - like, "Can we go to the park?" could be answered "That would be a fun thing to do [when it is convenient]! Write it on a note for me." Or "Can I have chips instead?" --> "You are welcome to choose one of the things I listed."
Just a thought. Thinking of how to answer positively keeps me from shrieking ;D

Aunt Crazy said...

I say don't be so hard on yourself. Your goals are great and seemingly acheiveable. Good luck. I'm a VERY lenient parent and while most of the time it's great sometimes, I want to kick myself AND the kids cuz they take advantage even though they have so much already.

Swizz said...

I'm discussing resolutions on my blog as well!

Do you mind if I link to your post? :o)

Sturgmom said...

I'm not the perfect parent by any means, but have you ever heard of Love and Logic? I use it with my children alot and it seems to work (most of the time). That's not to say there isn't a lot of yelling, fighting, and disagreeing that I have to deal with it, but sometimes I feel better equipped when I remember those L&L strategies.