Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Not Doing Our Best

Dear Em,
We were in the middle of a tough week. There had been tantrums galore. I know every study coming out nowadays says not to take things away as a punishment, but Daddy & I had no idea what to do. Your nastiness was off the charts. EVERYTHING was causing a meltdown or a tantrum.

Trying to nip the whole thing in the bud, Daddy & I gave you consequences with every nasty tirade you went on. We took away TV. We took away desserts. We sent you to quiet time in your room. Nothing worked.

I woke up one morning to you screaming at me because I asked you to put your clothes on. You told me that I wasn't your mommy anymore & you never wanted to see me again. Later that afternoon, while I was trying to help you get ready for dance (which we debated not letting you go to, but ultimately didn't want you to miss it), you screamed at me again. Just inches from my face. I'm not proud of how I reacted.

I called Nonnie while you were in dance that night. I was on the verge of tears. Everything was awful & nothing was working. Nonnie just listened. She didn't judge. She made a few suggestions, but mostly she just let me vent.

After we tucked you in that night, Daddy & I talked. I didn't want to excuse your actions. The way you were acting was not okay. But maybe part of the reason you weren't giving us your best, is that Daddy & I weren't giving you our best. We have been so busy over the past few months, that when Daddy & I finally have a second that isn't planned, we've grown accustomed to collapsing in a chair & zoning out in front of the TV. We've been exhausted. You've been exhausted. It seems like every moment of every weekend has been planned, & we spend our week days just trying to hold on. We've been rushing everywhere, & when we're not rushing, I just want to curl into a little ball & get some quiet time to recover.

While you've mostly been with us on our weekend adventures & they've included fun activities, all the little things seemed to be lacking. When was the last time we had a dance party while I made dinner? When was the last time I sat down & read with you, not because it was bedtime, just to read to you? When was the last time we played a family board game or played magnatiles together or played playdough together or worked on puzzles together? Maybe part of the reason you were acting the way you were acting is that was the only way to get a reaction from Daddy & I?

So, you & I had a talk the next day. We talked about how frustrating it feels for me to have someone screaming in my face. We talked about how I wasn't proud of how I was reacting to you screaming in my face. We talked about better ways to communicate. We talked about making better choices.

Then the three of us loaded into my car & went to the park after work. Your smiles & laughter told me everything I needed to know. You didn't need jam-packed expensive adventures. You needed quality time with your Mommy & Daddy. You needed this. Our family needed this.

We all went to bed much happier that night. The next few days went a lot better. We had more dance parties & less tantrums. Just the way I like it.

I love you so,

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