I Feel Like a Failure as a Parent At Least Once a Day
Kids are emotional beings. Especially two and a half-year-olds who are as predictable and in tune with their own emotions as a 14-year-old, i.e. not at all. I am the adult. It is my job to maintain composure and ride the waves of crazy that are often associated with managing a child’s emotions. That is a job I’m convinced I’m failing at.
Right now my son is going through an ‘I want it! I don’t want it!’ phase.
“I want my bunny!” “here you go. Here’s bunny!” Child swats at bunny “I DON’T WANT BUNNY!” “okay then. No bunny.” Child reaches like he’s been in the desert for a week and sees water “I WANT BUNNY!”
And so it goes.
Today I finally threw down the gauntlet and withheld bunny after the last swat at the poor stuffed animal.
Denying this child his bunny is like denying water to the thirsty. But I didn’t know what to do. I don’t know that he got the point. I don’t know that next time he’ll think twice before swatting away what he really wants. I don’t even know if he knows what he really wants. And I don’t know how to figure it out.
And so I withheld the bunny and listened to my child whimper for it. And it sucked.
I feel like a failure today. And I’m pretty sure had I left the bunny in arms reach so that when he was done kicking and swatting at it he could grab it, I’d feel like I failed then too. “What did I just teach him there?” I’d ask myself. “I taught him that he can be aggressive and indecisive and swat at things and that that’s okay.” There was no way I was coming out ahead on this one.
Parenting is one long practice of trial and error. You learn what not to do the hard way some times. It’s much harder to learn the right way. I’m no child psychologist or early child hood specialist. If there is a manual I haven’t seen it. There definitely isn’t one on the shelves of any store called “Managing Zachary: Age 2.5 – The Indecisive Frustrating Phase.”
I don't know what I'm doing on a daily basis. I just take my best swing at the ball and pray for a hit. Sometimes I hit a home run. Sometimes I strike out.
Rare is the time I feel like I handled something the right way. When those gems happen it’s usually because it worked. But if there is anything parenthood has shown me in my whopping 4.5 years of experience, it’s that what worked today might not work tonight, let alone tomorrow.
My kids are happy and kind and polite and friendly and caring and nurturing to each other, their friends and family, and to my husband and I. I know I am doing something right.
It would just be nice to feel that way all day every day. I’d love to always feel like I’m succeeding at the hardest job on earth.