Wednesday, February 4, 2009

So I'm feeling all better now

I am officially out of the funk!  Turns out I didn't need a break from the kids to get out of it. I just needed to relate to the kids differently to shake off the funkiness.

I have always been a big believer in changing yourself before you ask others to change.  I have many times said to Huck "You can't control other peoples' behavior, but you can control how you react to it."  Yes, I have some Dr. Phil-like tendencies.  I am not proud of that. I'm just sayin'.

So my cousin (technically Truck's cousin, but I think clarifying who is an in-law or step relation is petty and a way of not really claiming them, so she is my cousin) invited me to a parenting class at her church.  They are reading and discussing a book called The Five Love Languages of Children. The book teaches you how to communicate unconditional love to children. I didn't think I needed help in that area (I was wrong, I'll get to that), but I did like the idea of talking to other adults for an hour. Her church provides free, trustworthy childcare to anyone who is there for a church sponsored activity.  The idea of one hour without the Worm was enough to get me in the door.

Unfortunately, Worm had other ideas.  I won't go into details.  Suffice it to say, I left well before the class was finished.

However, leaving wasn't enough.  Worm was PISSED OFF and would not be distracted from his pissed offness.  He screamed the whole way to the car.  He turned into a toddler statue when I tried to put him in the car seat.  He cried the whole time he was eating the other half of the stale lime Starburst from yesterday.  He wasn't screaming at this point because he did want the candy to stay in his mouth.  He finished the candy and screamed the whole way to Walgreens. He screamed all through Walgreens.  He screamed at the old lady who tried to cheer him up by talking to him like he was an infant (incidentally, she did not laugh when I offered to let her take him home).   He screamed all the way to Sonic.  He finally shut up at Sonic, but only if I left my window rolled down so he could hear the music.  We have a perfectly good radio, a million children's CDs and a DVD player.  He wanted the window rolled down in 27 degree weather so he could hear "Sonic Radio".  Seriously.  Beach Boys music, top 40 pop, and ads for Sonic (news flash marketing geniuses I'M ALREADY AT YOUR ESTABLISHMENT - LAY OFF!).

Anyway, by the time we got home he was completely wiped out and took a fabulous 2&1/2 hour nap.  I decided to use that time to read about the five love languages for children since the class was a bust for me.  

Whoa!  I really needed to read it!  All this crap about how I have been feeling put upon and cranky because I am not getting a break from my kids just melted away.  I have been feeling like a servant to my kids because they are so demanding.  Lets just have a Dr. Phil moment here.  Everyone say it with me: You can't control other peoples' behavior, but you can control how you react to it.

So this afternoon I decided to kick my attitude to the curb and start fresh.

When Worm woke up he was clingy and hungry.  Instead of plunking him in his booster seat with a snack.  I sat down with him and talked to him while he ate.  It was fun!

When I picked Huck up from school he was full of energy and chatty.  Instead of flipping on the TV so he would leave me alone to finish chores, I sat with him and talked about the languages of love.  We had a great talk about what things I do to show him love.  Spending time with him is how he recognizes my love the best.  I knew that in my heart, but spending time with a six year old is not always fun for an adult.  I have been denying him my love because it isn't how I want to spend my time?  OUCH!

For the rest of the evening I stayed "on" for the kids.  I played with them and sat down while they ate and talked during bath time instead of playing on my iPhone or reading and I didn't race through Huck's bedtime routine.  

When I finally got all the Mama duties squared away I realized that it was the best night I had had in weeks!  I enjoy my kids.  They are fun and funny and total love machines.  Every ounce of love I showed them came back to me ten fold.  What the hell has been wrong with me?  

So I am going to take a little oath here. 

I choose to serve my kids lovingly.  I will show them love when I am feeling tired.  I will show them love when I am feeling unwell.  I will show them love when they are soft and warm from the bath. I will show them love when they make huge messes.  I will show them love when they do funny things to make me laugh.  I will show them love when they hurt my feelings.  I will show them love when they have dried snot on their cheeks.

Okay, readers, you have witnessed my oath.  You have permission to call me out when I slip. You know I will slip, but hopefully not as far down as I have been.

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