By Kristen C.
I never went into this whole mothering endeavor with the intention of winning an award. In fact, on most days, I feel less like a good mother and more like a really bad one. But as I've written before, I believe there's a part of every person that wants to be good. We don't wake up every morning and say to ourselves, "I'm going to do a crappy job of parenting today."
And yet, I feel as though I might as well have T-shirts made that share that sentiment with the whole world, even though part of me feels like they probably get that from watching me in action.
It's hard not to feel that way when your daughter is throwing the mother of all tantrums -- including (but not limited to) splashing me with water, smacking my hand and face, and kicking the floor, door, and any other hard surface she can find.
It used to be sort of funny. I'd chuckle about it to myself as I sent her off to the corner.
But now, it's just not as humorous. I feel her pain, her frustration, and her annoyance over a new baby, her father going back to work, her mother's split attention, and heinously annoying grandparents that just won't let her be.
I feel like one of those parents who sits in the therapist's office and tries to explain away all her child's behaviors, when really, she is part (if not all) of the cause.
"But she's a really good kid. So smart and kind. We just brought a baby home and all hell broke loose..."
I'm not afraid to discipline my child, and in fact, I have way more patience and understanding than I thought I'd be capable of, but there's only so much screaming, yelling, and smacking that I can take before I start to wonder if I'm being effective. I wonder whether the corner time, taking away of privileges, offering of choices, and quite frankly, doing the consistent and right thing will ever pay off.
If the first two years were hard in one way, the next few appear to be just as hard (if not harder). I never expected it to ease up. But it seems like there's tons of support for moms enduring those sleepless teething-filled nights, and little solace for those of us entering the challenging preschool years -- when the focus has changed from tub pooping and crib diving, to dealing with discipline, safety, socialization, and life skills.
Where we go from basking in our badness to actually striving for some goodness. Not for our own sakes, but for the sake of our little ones who really truly deserve the best.
I guess our nights will always be sleepless, just for different reasons.
Kristen C. is a former college music professor turned stay-at-home-mother/rock star to her daughter Quinlan.