Ok, first and foremost put your mama bear claws away and just hear me out. This is brand new information to me too, but it’s true. Whenever your kids are having hard days, whenever their behavior is far from perfect you need to remember these words….Your Kids Are Not The Problem, YOU ARE.
I know that seems harsh, so let me explain, Channing and I were sitting in a training yesterday (for those who don’t know, we both teach at the same school) and in the training they started talking about Absence seizures. If you have read our blog for awhile then you know that my middle child Megan, experiences these types of seizures. So obviously when the subject was brought up, it sparked my attention. The lady speaking started to discuss that a lot of times, absence seizures occur because the child is too overwhelmed. She said that the child could become too overwhelmed and stressed that it becomes their brains way of coping to just simply shut down for a few seconds. Sometimes hundreds of times a day. She went on to say that often times a moms return to grad school or perhaps a new sibling could be a type of stressor for a child that could trigger these types of seizures and I just sat there with my mouth floored. School and new sibling (in our case TWINS) um….CHECK. It was completely eye opening to consider that perhaps Megan’s seizures are a direct result of something WE her parents have done.
Now I am not saying that this is the case for our situation, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, but it really got me thinking about things. Even as simple as the days when I say my kids are having a bad day or a hard day. How much of that is them and how much of that is me?
There are so many times that I set myself up for stress and disappointment because I set unrealistic expectations for the way I think things should be instead of being honest and realistic with myself. If I expect to make a run to the grocery store with my youngest 3 and in my mind decide that they will all sit quietly in the basket while I gather our weeks worth of groceries, then I am very much the problem. Because when do 3 year olds ever sit quietly for an extended period of time? Much less when you are throwing their beloved goldfish and applesauce pouches into the shopping cart behind them? The answer is never my friends, never. So while I expect them to quietly sit while I check off my grocery list and they become antsy and start to fight over who can hold the bananas I get flustered, and anxious and sometimes lose my temper. AND THAT IS ALL MY FAULT. I set the unrealistic expectations.
Or how about the days that I am short and in a bad mood and have “had enough” but it really has nothing to do with my children? I know you know exactly what I am talking about. The days you are texting your girlfriends asking if 10am is a socially acceptable time to start drinking? Some days I have just had enough. My kids are pushing my buttons and boundaries and fighting and whining and I am just D-O-N-E. Really though my kids fight and whine every day, because hello they are 3 and they don’t know how to express their emotions properly. Most days I can teach them and show them the right way to express those feelings. I referee the fights over Paw Patrols and Ninja Turtles, and pass out fruit snacks and juice boxes with a smile on my face, but on this particular “hard day ” I show them less grace and forgiveness. Today it is too much. And yes fighting and whining over time will drive anyone to day drink, but what is the real reason behind not having any patience on that particular day? Perhaps it was a fight with your spouse, or you are worried about finances, or any slew of other stresses that we as mamas can face. On the days when we have less grace to give is it really our kids fault? Or is the day extra hard because we made it that way?
Channing and her husband have been struggling with their youngest and her potty training. They admittedly become frustrated that she is 3.5 and not fully potty trained and it is a source of frustration for them. However when stopping to think about Ellie, and how she spent her entire first year pretty much in and out of a hospital and how sick she was you start to realize while her birthdate may say one thing, realistically she is going to have some delays because of the stressors of her first year. And so being frustrated that she pooped her pants for the third time that week really has nothing to do with Ellie. It’s due to the fact that we set up our expectations based on how we think things should be rather than how they are.
I am not saying that anytime your kid acts out that it is all on you. Obviously that won’t always be the case, but the next time they do have a “hard day”, I would invite you to ask yourself 1) Have I set the expectation bar to high? and 2) Is this their problem or is it mine? I think if we are truly honest with ourselves as moms we will realize that we have the power to really reduce the number of “bad” days, just by changing our approach.