Friday, August 12, 2005

Modern Day Insecurities

Remember that feeling back in middle school? The one where no matter what you did, you felt unsure of yourself and completely, utterly inadequate? Even if you did something perfectly well, even if you were sitting at a lunch table with lots of friends who were laughing at your jokes... you still had that nagging feeling in the back of your head that somehow you were faking it? Or worse yet, you felt like a fraud because you thought people would think you were faking it even if you weren't? And that feeling you'd get when you handled a bully... that joyous feeling of triumph layered on top of anxiety because even though you won this round, there would always be tomorrow and the chance of losing the next battle.

That's how my kids make me feel sometimes. I feel so inadequate as a mother when they just don't listen. Or I know they listened but they refuse to obey. Take Grace, for example. She's going through a totally nekkid phase. She at least will wear a Pull-Up but still... she won't wear anything else. I'm doing everything right, taking away the power struggle aspect of it, but she just won't budge. As an example from a week or 2 ago (I posted this on my birth club):

"Today, I was THAT mom. Oh yes, YKWIM. THAT mom, the one that when you don't have kids, you glare at the mother and the one if you do have kids, you either chuckle or offer the I'm-so-sorry-head-tilt. Grace has been PT'ing herself, and since it's summer we've made it easier for her by letting her just wear the Pull-Ups.... when we're home. It's progressed to where she will not NOT not wear clothes except for Pull-Ups. So if we go to my BF's house for a play date or we go to our parents' houses or even our own siblings' homes, fine. I'd rather not fight that battle with her and let her get so upset that her voice is hoarse and whatnot. That fight just isn't worth it to me. I draw the line at being out in public, so after our visit with MIL (who thinks this naked phase is hysterical, I mean it is kinda cute to see a curly haired toddler walking around in just a pink princess Pull-Up) we had to make a run to Wal*Mart. I warned her ahead of time that since we were going to a store she HAD to wear at least a sun dress. She screamed and cried the WHOLE TIME we were there. She made her voice hoarse, and even though DH tried to bribe her with a lollipop (which I think is the same as rewarding her for acting like a brat LOL) even that didn't work. Lollipops are her favorite thing in the world, aside from popsicles. She kept half-stripping and of course I kept redressing her. And by God she STAYED dressed until we got to the car. So I'm talking to her calmly and explaining/reinforcing my stand with her, dealing with her, I think, as a good parent would. Standing firm, you know. Except for the screaming. And crying. Ugh.I think she panicked the moms with newborns... they had this deer-in-the-headlights look like "OMG is that what they turn into?" I also had the knowing look from BTDT moms, who smiled and gave the so-sorry-head-tilt. Some ppl just straight out laughed. And the old ladies who glared like "Can't you shut your kid up?" One of them who commented to her own adult DD "Some parents can't control their kids" to which I said "Would you rather see her naked and judge me then? NOW how much lack of control over my kid do you think I have? At least she's DRESSED!" She looked shocked and then she chuckled and said "Oh my, I didn't realize THAT was the problem!"Yeah ha ha ha. I'm still mad LOL... this won't be funny for a while. On a positive note, Anneliese never made a peep and even though Juliana didn't want to ride in the cart she did, and behaved superbly. So Juliana got mucho praise in the car AND a chocolate bar of her choosing. Gracie, the biggest chocoholic, knew how upset I was and didn't bother crying for chocolate. Now we're home, she's half naked again and she's happily sleeping on the couch. Oh, to be 2.5 y/o again. "

Now come on, I let the kid pick out her own clothes when shopping and I let her pick out her daily outfits from THAT... I know it's a stage but it's ridiculous. When we went to the Aquarium it was a horrendous battle. We almost got kicked out of a restaurant, FCOL... until Manny took her out for a walk while the food was waiting and had a talk with her. She managed to keep her clothes on the rest of the day but AS SOON AS the trip was over and we were back at the car to go home, she stripped. I had to take her to the shrink yesterday and chose a cute outfit that she'd have difficulty getting out of yet she managed to get out of it. She screamed and cried and tantrumed for 40 minutes even though she wanted to go. Manny ended up having to come home for an hour so I could go alone, I just couldn't take her out like that.

Juliana is a different story. She just argues and disobeys for the heck of it sometimes.

The shrink seems to think that this is about regression due to family dynamics changing with Anneliese joining the family. We have a few different tactics to try out to get Grace to keep her clothes on, but she may just be an enigma. Reverse psychology isn't working, bribes aren't working, nothing. So we'll see. We're supposed to make her feel embarrassed about being nekkid next. I suppose we'll find out at our trip to the mall tomorrow.

So, how is it that after making it through the insecurities of middle school and high school... after carving out a whole new self during college... after becoming a well-adjusted (mostly) adult with a decent measure of self-esteem and reassurance about life and my place in it... how is it that my children can make me revert to that same ball of nerves I was as a child? I'm a pretty strict parent. I like to think I'm fair and balanced. I like to think I'm patient. I know that PPD has a lot to do with it, and dealing with my own heightened anxieties and control issues in the midst of it... but my shrink says that aside from all that is the very real fact that simply having kids can "do that." The dynamic has changed so much adding a 3rd baby, and even though Juliana has transitioned well each time she became a big sister, there's another personality to think about. Grace used to be so laid back but she's become, well, a ball of nerves like me. And that's another thing... my shrink says (and I see how this could be true) that they're just little emotion detectors. They feel the way I feel. And since I've had the PPD I've been, well, LOL just read my posts about PPD. Since I've been feeling this way, anxious and such, they are too. So I feel like a failure for that. I thought I was hiding it better than that from the kids, but when Grace was pitching her fit yesterday about keeping her clothes on, I went into "purely functional" mode. I had to feed them before leaving, so I focused on feeding Anneliese while Grace pitched her fit. Juliana came to me and put her hand on my shoulder saying "Mommy, are you going to cry this time? Why are you feeling so sad? It's OK Mommy, Grace is ALWAYS nekkid!" That's not the job of an almost-5 y/o! I feel just awful about this, because I should know better.

So really, how is it that after overcoming all of my childhood insecurites (well, most of them) my own children can send me into such a mess of insecurity? I know I'm a good mother, but I don't really feel like it. Does that even make sense? I know I have a lot to work on. And it helps to get it all out.

Image hosted by

1 comment:

Kyla said...

Oh my sweet, Jessica, you are a wonderful mother. We just don't see ourselves as we truly are. We see ourselves even less often as God does. You know He handpicked you from every woman on earth to bless with those three little girls. There is no better mother for them. You never know on a given day what your children will bring you, we just have to deal with what we're given. When you are at your end and cannot believe you are a good mother, think about Him and try to see yourself how He sees you. Someone worthy to be loved, someone worthy to be a mother, someone perfect to raise those three precious princesses.