The dirty rotten truth about parenthood

You know how when you have a newborn and the nights are sleepless, you’re worried sick because you don’t know this little being that is in your home, you’re terrified that you’re doing something wrong… you don’t know what they want or need… you pray you’re doing it right?

And they all say… hang in there… it gets easier.

And it does.

And then it gets harder.

That sweet baby turns into a mobile toddler and then suddenly you feel like you’re trying to tame a feral cat with 8 legs in your home.  They climb the kitchen chairs, they play in the toilet, they eat remnants of food that have been forgotten in the corner for who knows how long, they can’t communicate with you, they don’t understand or follow directions, they don’t sit still for more than 4 seconds.  You feel like pulling your hair out…. you’re sure you’re going to run away from home… you’re sure they’re going to knock themselves out if they fall and hit their head yet AGAIN.

And they all say… hang in there… it gets easier.

And it does.

And then it gets harder.

That crazy little toddler turns into a demanding preschooler and you feel like a mini tyrant has moved into your home.   Directions are met with defiance.  Tantrums come out of thin air.  You feel like you’re living with Jekyll and Hyde the number of times your child changes faces in a day… you’re pretty sure you’re going crazy and are going to need to be admitted to the mental ward… that or join an AA meeting.

And they all say… hang in there… it gets easier.

And it does.

And then it gets harder.

That demanding preschooler turns into an elementary child and you realize you have this independent, mini person living in your house.  They have needs and wants and feelings and emotions that they aren’t sure how to deal with.  They are exhausted from school and are navigating friendships and demands of responsibility and face mood swings and persist for independence.  You feel like you have a teenager in your home with all the mood swings.  You’re pretty sure you’re failing at every aspect of parenting.  You cry when you see your baby frustrated and you aren’t there with them all day to know every side to every story, and you don’t know exactly how to help them solve all the problems in their little world.

And they all say… hang in there… it gets easier.

I only pray, pray pray pray so hard that it gets easier.  I know it’ll get harder in some other way, but this phase we’re in right now stinks.

Porter has been having a really, REALLY rough year in 2nd grade.  I started noticing it right away.  By the 3rd week of school his teacher called home and told me…. “Porter got an automatic RED “non-negotiable” on Monday because he pinched his friend Derek.  Our rules are that when students get 2 they get a call home” (cue… oh shit… he’s calling home… that means he got ANOTHER!)  His second automatic RED “non-negotiable” was that he told someone he was going to punch them.  Now… not trying to defend him because I 100% agree that laying your hands on another student or threatening them is a non-negotiable and needs to be handled appropriately.  But… knowing Porter, he jokes with those kind of things all the time… and says it in a playful way.  The classmate he said he was going to punch was a friend he’d been begging me to call his mom because they wanted to have a play date.  So, I halfway think that I haven’t done a very good job at setting boundaries that things like that can’t be joked about… that sometimes people can feel like you mean it for real.  Parent fail.

And then… my bright, intelligent, sensitive, energetic, often obnoxious child has turned into this emotional mess.  Some days he comes home from school angry as a lion… ready to pounce on whoever looks at him wrong.  These days are goners… there’s no turning them around.  Other days he’s this sweet, helpful boy… the boy I know and love.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t get enough focused time with the boys… they’re gone all day until 4, and then I have to get dinner ready while dealing with the tyrant toddler (see above description) who is dead set on destroying the house.  After dinner we clean up, then the boys take showers and they’re usually in bed by 7:30 or 8.  I try hard to spend some quality time with each of them at bedtime but some nights I’m just done….  some nights I just can’t take anymore arguing or defiance or attitude.  Some nights I can’t bring myself down to approaching them calmly so I just bail altogether.  Some nights I suck.

Today was one of those days… he came home angry.  Mad.  Raging.  I could tell something was just boiling inside him ready to explode.  I figured it was lack of sleep.  At bedtime he couldn’t even make the choice between running pants or jeans for school tomorrow he was so pent up with frustration and anger.  He started bawling and it all came out.

… “E” doesn’t like Legos anymore. He doesn’t like to play Legos. 

… No one will play with me at recess… I ask and no one will let me play with them.

… I never get picked by the daily class helper to help them.
No one ever picks me.

… I get reset sometimes… I try hard but I mess up. 

… I’m a geek.  I was always born to be a geek.  That’s what my brain says. 

… I feel like a piece of chalk being broken in half.  That’s how sad I am inside, Mom.   I feel like I’m someones favorite piece of chalk and they’re breaking me in half. 

 … I tried talking to E last weekend about how he hurts my feelings and asked him why he doesn’t want to play with me at recess. He told me he only wants to spend time with N.  

… I cry at school all the time.  Sometimes its because I miss you.  Sometimes its because no one wants to be my partner. 

My heart… my heart is breaking.  *I* feel like that piece of chalk… listening to my baby pour his heart out to me.   I know he is hurting. He has told me before he feels so much pressure this year with school work.  I get it… 2nd grade really is the transition from K/1 of learning the ropes to moving onto 3rd grade and really buckling down.   I’m not at school with him so I don’t know exactly what is going on with his friends. He is SUCH a friendly boy so it just blows my mind that he is saying he doesn’t feel like he has any friends.  This kid literally talks to ANYONE.  He’s friends with so many kids, and doesn’t hesitate to say hi to kids on his bus or in other classrooms when he sees them at the grocery store or wherever.
But… he can also be a bit obnoxious, and lose sight of when enough is enough.  So part of me wonders if he’s getting too caught up in himself and turning people off from being wanting to be around him. Part of me wonders if he’s just blowing it out of proportion because his friend aren’t playing what HE wants to play (we did have a talk about that… some of his friends play football at recess and he doesn’t like to play with him… but I’ve encouraged him to TRY it one day, and see if he likes it… because his FRIENDS want to do it, not because its exactly what he wants to do.)  Part of me wonders if this is a friend/jealousy/being left out situation.  Part of me wants to just pull him from school and homeschool him.  HAHA…. huge joke… but for reals… this Mama just wants to mend his broken, angry heart.
Please tell me it gets better.  Please Lord, help me help him.  Help me help his hurt.

  1. Grade two – worst.year.ever. for Morgan. Grade 3 – shockingly different. Different kid, matured like crazy over the summer – it would blow your mind the change. It's a hard age. Every second year is a bitch, my friend. My kids seem to be good on the odd years – 1, 3 etc.

  2. Jake was the same way. It was awful. It felt like a glimpse into the teenage years, and I am dreading those years if it is anything like he was in 2nd grade. I was so used to having a fairly easy, compliant kid and I instantly blamed it the kids he was been hanging out with. I could also remember reading Nicki M.'s blog and the struggles she had with Ally, and that helped knowing I wasn't the only one. After at 2nd grade year, I switched schools hoping that would help, because that's how much I believed he was being influenced to act like such a jerk, lol. Third grade was better, but he still has anger issues here and there. This year so far got off to a rocky start- remember me asking you for Dot's number? lol. But I think football has helped him. My problem is, I have no patience for that type of behavior. It sounds like you are off to a great start just listening to him and letting him vent. I know what you mean when you feel like you don't get to spend any time with them. We've been trying to set aside 1 day a month to take the boys on a special date. We take turns, so one month Dave takes Jake and I take Ty and then we switch boys the next month. We kinda fell off the bandwagon once Ava was born, but they have been asking to start it back up, so they must have enjoyed those special days. Looking back on it, Dave expected some kind of miracle turn-around once we gave them those special days, behavior wise. It didn't happen. But in the grand scheme, I'm sure it helps just being there and spending quality time.

  3. I, by no means want to belittle this situation, but, does he get an afternoon snack at school? We've had similar situations happen with Shae, coming home depressed and angry. Ready to rip off the head of the first person she sees outside of school (safe feelings). As I was talking w/ the principal about it, the school nurse overheard the conversation and asked me the same question. No, she wasn't getting an afternoon snack (lack of protein, in particular), but, when I asked the teacher if it was possible for her to have one, it was no problem. Getting home to have a snack after school wasn't soon enough. She hit bottom right before going home and took it out on us. She didn't even want to stay and play at the playground after school. She was D.O.N.E. Since then, as long as she gets that snack in the afternoon, I might see Dr. Jekyll once every two to three weeks.

  4. I have no words of wisdom, as I feel like I am right there in the thick of it with you. Maybe not quite to the degree you're in but I can see we are headed that way. I just posted an awesome talk on motherhood on my blog. It helped me so much…feel free to read it if you want and just know you aren't alone. ((HUGS))

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