Last night was a serious milestone in my parenting career.
I sent my son to bed without dinner.
I know, it was a little harsh, but I'd really had it, and he was doing the whole three year old pushing buttons thing, not listening thing, blatantly disregarding your requests thing, and I warned him, and warned him again, and told him the consequences of his actions, and started to repeat myself for the fifth time and then I had this moment of clarity where I stepped back from my life and asked myself, "what the fuck are you doing?"
So I stood up, told him dinner was over, picked up his plate, ushered him upstairs with little fanfare and got him ready for bed. I told him I was sorry he couldn't listen and I was sorry he wouldn't get to eat dinner, and I was especially sorry he wouldn't get to play with his daddy, and I loved him but didn't like his behavior and I hoped tomorrow would be a better day. I hugged him, kissed him goodnight, and walked out the door.
That was it. And it felt... well... pretty good.
I feel like for the last few weeks, I've been angry all the time. Frustrated, annoyed, short on patience, and just plain mad at the kids. They are pushing buttons and being difficult and testing the limits and being really, totally, spectacularly ANNOYING. But that isn't a reason for me to be so angry, for me to be screaming all the time, for me to feel like my head is going to pop off. Something had to change, and I've decided to do something about all of this anger before I end up in therapy for anger management or a neighbor called child protective services because of all the yelling going on over here.
I read a book, I read another book, and another book, and I took your advice and started a chore/positive rewards chart, and things have been going much, much, MUCH better. 10,000 times better. We have had 7 consistent days of happy and sweet and mostly great kids. There are still moments where I have to take a breather, or where I do a bit of raised voice speaking, but I feel in control of myself. I am not having ridiculous fantasies about smacking my kids or watching the clock and counting down until naptime/bedtime or calling Josh weeping and hysterical.
I'm keeping calm and staying positive and even when the kids are being a willful three years or a tantruming fourteen months, I can step back and see some good options for how to handle the drama without resorting to screaming and timeouts. Best of all, I'm not angry, and I'm not stuffing my face with cookies because of all the anger. I'm okay. Frustrated at times, but peaceful.
And that, my friends, is priceless. I may just be able to do this parenting thing after all.