Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Trials of a Stay at Home Parent : If you march, then march. If you have your own horn, then toot it.

Stay-at-home parents don't have incentives or raises or awards to keep driving them to do their best; it's harder than you think to get up every day and do the tasks required for this job. No one is there to boost your self-esteem when you need it. SO, I gotta pat myself on the back (publicly, because it feels nice to brag about it) today. Give yourself a pat if you know what I'm talkin' about and you need one! 
 I love days like today when I haven't allowed some internal agenda keep me from my best parenting self, days like today when I have had the patience and energy to give my girls my best (to do things that they may not like but that are good for them even when it would be momentarily tempting/easier on me to cater to their immediate desires - although not easier in the long run on anyone). This is all to say that I got both the girls down for naps early in the afternoon. First, Darah. Then, Elanah. It took over an hour, and I did allow them a certain degree of room for delaying. But I stayed the course. I did not just give up and let Darah's clever games tire me out enough to give up on the nap altogether.
Best of all, I didn't use the boob/breastfeeding a million times to get Elanah to finally fall asleep. And I didn't give in and breast her to sleep when she woke up crying when I put her down in the bed. I calmly reassured her that I would breastfeed her later, when she woke up, but that it was time to sleep. And she cried and sobbed and clawed my face but it worked. I don't think she'll be scarred for life, either. Hurray. I did an internal happy dance. Hope I can do it again tomorrow.
 I only wish someone were here to see it and to say, "Excellent job, Jessica." Sometimes, while I realize the futility, ultimately, of external appraisal, it feels good to get a smiley face sticker from some Important Other for work well done. It's hard to transition from being a person who had little self-esteem and was in great need of constant praise for her personal ans academic achievements to being a person who is home with two tiny tikes and no one/nothing external to boost her self-esteem. It's an opportunity to strengthen my inner life and core, but it ain't easy. 
Sometimes pressure is what you need to do your best. I work better under a little, mild external pressure (external pressure includes ANYTHING outside of oneself and one's children). It brings some extra accountability, which I find helpful. I think, under the working conditions (unregulated, unregimented, unheard of conditions) of stay-at-home employment a lot of parents would kind of crumble and just totally lose their cool or their ability to be self-controlled. It's really REALLY hard to have to maintain your composure in a situation where you have little control over other things. You can guide and assist your kids, but they are their own persons (unless you are running your home like a military base...which would be QUITE the challenge with infants and toddlers and preschoolers and adolescents if you weren't planning to basically beat them into submission with fear).
It's funny - every time the girls are not listening to me, I feel powerless and angry. I kinda wanna be their military Sargent for the moment to just get them to gosh darn obey me.  But I should feel empowered by the fact that in the midst of a chaotic moment, I DO have control over something: myself. I think it is very good for most SAH parents to have some sort of accountability in place whether it self-imposed or not...it might even be as simple as being in contact with another adult on a regular basis (having another parent, a friend, or just an activity to draw you out of the home world for a moment or two or twenty). Just some outside communication to pull you out of the inside world for a breather. Then you can jump right back into parenting, and continue marching to your own parenting drum, even if that march, at times, starts to sound like "left, left, left, right, left."


Halcyarn said...

Thank you for being YOU! I can tell you that you have way more patience than I do. I'm not sure I could handle the stress of working with people who just won't do what they're supposed to do -- kids can be like that, huh! You do it every day and maintain your calm demeanor. Of course, you also have the wonderful love and support of Sandy, who handles stress better than anyone I know! ♥

Mason McFadden said...

Awe, my yam/yarn-loving friend, thanks for your comment. You sorta do something similar every day, but the disobedience (or, lack of control) is not so immediate(/ly apparent). I don't always maintain my calm demeanor...ha ha. Looks like you need to come for a visit and see me in action. Oh wait, you ARE coming for a visit. I'll try NOT to be on my best behavior... :) And Sandy is gonna love your comment. She is pretty calm. She's definitely not an anxious, Nervous Nellie, like me!