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Monday, May 12, 2014

The Guilt Is Strong With This One

Being a mom is the most amazing job out there, and yet the pressure and daily self-induced guilt that you are just not good enough can be so heavy and unrelenting , it can break even the strongest woman. Like, say, um...I dunno...me. 
The twins at 2.5 are showing some progress in their "expressive language", but haven't reached a vocabulary explosion I was hoping to see by now.  They say more now than ever before, but never sentences, not even stringing 2 words together. There's still a WHOLE lot of grunting and whining going on, and it's been slowly eating away at my heart. I see other two year olds, or ONE year olds, speaking more than the boys, and it is hard not to compare. In my gut I know they will be fine, every child is different, but by this age both Luke and Juliette were much more vocal.  But their limited communication isn't the only area I find myself questioning my parenting skills. I find myself expecting less of the twins because they don't communicate with me, so  I subconsciously expect they can't understand directions or follow instructions. Hence, I make allowances for them--or I completely avoid situations where they would be challenged to comply. I don't take them to restaurants, ball games, concerts, or environments where they may be a disturbance.  I'm embarrassed that they cannot sit still, I'm ashamed that they cry in the rare circumstance that they have to actually sit in the stroller and wait for something for more than 2 minutes. I should have taken them to more restaurants, gone on longer walks, catered less, demanded more...
WHY DIDN'T I DO THAT??
When we actually do things together as an entire family, the activity inevitably revolves around a park because that is the environment that caters to 2 year olds, and both parents are always present. But more often we split up, Ryan takes the older two on an outing, (beach, Home Depot Saturdays, air show, ball games, etc) and I stay home with the twins.  It's been two years of us catering to them, and now I feel the guilt of not challenging them enough, not insisting they learn to cope in varying situations. I rationalized it by saying it was our survival technique, to keep the peace.  I thought I was doing the public a favor--but now all I see are the mistakes and missed opportunities, the moments when I should have pushed them to learn to be more patient. 
I remember reading a Michelle Duggar training technique last year, and am ashamed that I didn't try harder. With her first set of twins she came up with "blanket time." Well before the twins were a year old she would lay a blanket down and place the twins on the blanket. She'd bring out two new exciting toys they were unfamiliar with and let the twins play with them, and set the timer. In the beginning it was a short 3-5 minute goal. When one of the twins tried to crawl off the blanket, or started getting fussy, she'd firmly and consistently bring the child back to the blanket and discourage cries and whines. When the timer went off, she'd cheer and clap excitedly, giving kisses and hugs for a successful blanket time.  It was always an excessive celebration.
She'd repeat this many times in a day, with the blanket in different areas of the house. After awhile, maybe a few weeks, she'd lengthen the time on the timer, and after that she'd eventually stop giving a toy, until ultimately she had twin toddlers that would sit quietly on a blanket for over 30 minutes in various environments without a peep of complaint. 

WHY DIDN'T I DO THAT??
The sad truth is I didn't anticipate the consequences would be so damaging. I couldn't see passed today.  Now that I see it, I am scared of being judged. I don't know that I know how to discipline two at once out in public, and it always seemed like keeping them home was the lesser of two evils. 


I've recently discovered the MOB Society website,where Moms Of Boys can find support and encouragement from other moms of boys.   Co-founder Brooke McGlothin struggled with her first son since birth,  and she reflects upon when she put a sign on her door after coming home from the hospital that foreshadowed the next two years of her life. She writes:

Visitors who came to see our new little “blessing” found me hiding in the bedroom trying desperately to get him to eat. On the third day of his life, we put a sign on the front door that said, “No visitors, please. We’re getting to know our new son and just need a little more time before receiving.”
I didn’t realize it then, but my “no visitors, please” message would become much more than just a sign on my front door—it was a guard I placed over my heart, and around my son to hide from the world how much I was really struggling to be his mom.He was just hard from the get-go, and the ugly truth was that having a challenging son made me feel like a bad mom...
With my “no visitors, please” sign taped firmly over my heart, I muddled through the first two years mostly alone, mostly depressed, and starving for some kind of relief. I did the best I could, tried everything to be a better mom, but consistently fell short in almost every way."

Let me say here...Jackson and Lincoln are NOT bad boys. They are sweet and kind and smart and funny. But I hindered their development in my decisions to keep them away from challenging situations. Truth. 

Even though they're not "bad", I am taking the 5 day challenge from the MOB Society,  The challenge is called "Fighting for Those Hard-to-Handle Boys." I have to stop whining about what I did wrong, and start actively looking for daily opportunities to do right. 

I got to unplug last night with a whole bunch of other moms, as we attended the Buggy Bunch movie night "Mom's Night out" at the Majestic Theater. I recommend this movie to other moms/dads who may need a gentle reminder about how noble a calling parenthood, and in this case, motherhood is.  The powerful message that resonated with me was God's decision to make ME the mother of my children. Critics moan it's anti-feminist and an "insulting diminishment of the complex struggles of motherhood." But as a stay-at-home mother I did not feel diminished or misunderstood, and I believe ALL moms, working or not, can appreciate the sometimes suffocating circumstances of motherhood and the need to come up for air every once in awhile.
For you moms reading, I hesitate to just make a blanketed statement that would tell you,  "You are enough! You're doing a great job! Keep it up!"… Because let's face it, there are some horrible moms (probably not you) out there that really don't give their kids their best, they are selfish (probably not you), they neglect their children(most likely not you), or flat out abuse them(surely not you).  But chances are, if you're reading this, you're one of the moms that ARE enough. We are not perfect, we may each differ in our parenting styles, we make mistakes DAILY, HOURLY even, but we are equipped to be enough for our families. I must remind myself of that as I set out on my 5 day challenge and beyond.  Jackson and Lincoln may not have mastered social situations or patience, but they are capable of doing so, and I am the right
person for this job.  

Mission accepted.