Monday, November 09, 2009

my kiddos and me

Lately, when I look at the photos of 'before', I am struck not just by how innocent and naive I look, but at how pure and happy the kids look. I know that this may be just a natural consequence of aging for them, but I am concerned that my sadness, anger and general 'inward turning' has affected them in negative ways. I want to repair this. I want to heal what I can in their little hearts. I want to return to the parent that I was before....
So I am striving to be more patient. To again trust my children. To play as I once did. To not lash out when I am stressed as often. To take a breather and to let the kids know when I need that moment to myself and why.
I have been immersing myself in appropriate parenting books and with people who exhibit the parenting behaviour that I would again like to employ. If I had the balls, I would have tattooed on my wrist "YOU are the adult. ACT like one." to remind me to curb MY temper tantrums. I want our home to return to some semblance of calm. I know it was never perfect and neither was I, but it was damn sight better than it is now.
It is amazing to me just how stress can effect ALL aspects of your life. Briar will ask for one more cracker and I bark at him, "No! I don't have time to get it!" while thinking that he should be able to see that I am attempting to get the bills paid online with only enough more to pay three of them. (Just to remind you he is three....I doubt he even knows what a bill is.) Liv will merrily dance through the house with her cowgirl boots tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tapping away. I will bite my tongue. I will furiously try concentrate on the task at hand......Then, after one truly exuberant flurry of foot stomping, I'll yelp, "What is going on?! That is TOOOOOOOOO loud....and TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF IN THE HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!"
They both seem to regard me as the 'Lieutenant Commander No-fun' and if there are happiness and giggles to be squashed, I will be the one who does it.
I can't do this. My role as mommy has been THE most important and sacred thing to me. I cannot let go and allow my children to flounder just because I am grieving and I am exhausted.
So, I am now reading:
Raising Your Spirited Child
How to Talk so your Kids will Listen and Listen so your Kids will Talk
Siblings Without Rivalry
Hold onto Your Kids
Let me know if there are other parenting books that you have found help and value in....

So, here we go. I am going to work on myself and my relationships with my sweet, little kiddos. Wish us luck....


Shannon said...

You've chosen some great books, IMO. The only other one I thought of... Have you read, "Playful Parenting" by Cohen?

I found it helpful with my 3 year old. I struggle with patience and sarcasm with her...seems like it should be easy, but it's not.

Maybe we should look into those tattoos:)

Joanie said...

Ack! Too many books, more pressure on yourself to read them, feel inadequate when you don't live up to their advice, etc.

I really think you have so much of your own wisdom, Jackie. If you need an objective sounding board once in a while and an opportunity to express your sorrow, anger, fear perhaps a session(s) with a counselor will help clear your head so you can access that wisdom.

You are doing a remarkable job with your children in an untenable
situation. I strongly believe in your love of your children.

Crash Course Widow said...

Good for you for wanting to try to act "better." But don't be too hard on yourself, Jackie. It's impossible to overemphasize how hard that 2nd year of widowhood is. You feel relatively better than you did the first year, so you have higher, unrealistic expectations for yourself. You should be more patient, happier, less erratic, more stable...etc., etc., etc. But in truth you're still so early on on this shit path. The grief isn't as obvious as it was in the first year, but in looking back, for me it went underground in the 2nd and into the 3rd year. I was cranky and tired and had no patience whatsoever. Can you say ANGRY too?

So yes, while it's wonderful that you're aware that you don't like your behavior, please cut yourself some slack too. You're dealing with the hardest thing possible...and not just in the immediate reactions now. Now you're having to deal with the short-term and longer-term effect of grief...without the benefit of shock and numbness and instant tears telling you when you've had too much. Now, it's the anger and impatience sounding the cry...but it's too easy to misinterpret it and blame yourself simply for being a supposedly bad parent. But you're not a bad parent, Jackie--you're just going through something impossible and painful...still.

Hang in there. It will get easier eventually, and then you won't be having to try so hard to be a better parent; you'll just automatically be a better parent because you're feeling better, more balanced, overall.

And seeing as none of those books on parenting would be written from the stance of a widowed, single-parent-by-death perspective, I'm highly cynical that any of them will really help. But I'm a cynical S.O.B. in general. ;o)

Hugs, my friend. Be gentle with yourself.

Heather said...

Jackie -
Look for "When you're about to go off the deep end, don't take your kids with you!" Can't remember the author's name right now but I think her website is It's a fabulous book - easy and quick to read when time is hard to come by!

Poppy and Mei said...

Thank-you Jackie...XXxx.

Heidi said...

How did you know what I was thinking? I am facing similar parenting challenges with my girls! Please know that you are amazing, truly amazing.

I am really enjoying this book right now:

Take care!

AndreaRenee said...

Ditto Heidi - you read my mind. I totally SUCK lately. And I feel/look like I've aged 10 freaking years in this past year. Take one book at a time - and go easy on yourself. While I hate myself and the mother I am right now, I'm trying to not only exercise patience with my children, but myself. Not an easy task... xoxo

nessabean said...

I cannot imagine what you are going through on a daily basis. I really look forward to reading your poignant words. You are an inspirational mindful parent. Try Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Shannon, I like 'Playful Parenting'. I also really enjoyed 'Kids are Worth It!' by Barbara Coloroso.

I also agree with others that you need to be gentle with yourself. None of us are the parents we really want to be a lot of the time. But I think, that if we are generally making an effort to be there, that's what really counts.

Ashley Tinius said...

Oh, Jackie. Please know that you are not alone in your feelings. Most days, I chastise myself for being too impatient, for not doing enough "fun stuff," for yelling too much about, well, nothing. For expecting too much out of my children, when they are only 4 and 1 (can't you see I'm trying to make a grocery list?! STOP SINGING for Christ's sake!!!) Oh yes....I feel like a joy-killer, too. My 4 year old daughter did a rather unflattering impersonation of me in the car the other day, as I was barking at her to hurry up and buckle herself into her car seat. It was spot on, and I sad for my kids and so mad at myself. Don't be so hard on yourself. We have such high expectations of ourselves, and while it's good to try to be better at some things, I think as long as you tell your kids you love them and show them love, they'll be fine. Anyways....just wanted you to know you're not alone.

carrie said...

Hi Jackie,
Wow, I am going through very similar stuff, and made the same promise about two weeks ago. I starting reading 9 ways to bring out the best in you and your child by Maggie Reigh, and it has been really helpful to me so far. Some of its just stuff we already know but is a fresh reminder in our minds of how to act ( not react) when our kids are driving us crazy. Its definitely not easy.
I love the tattoo idea, i thought of it last night when my three yr old would not go to bed and i was starting to lose it.

Abigail said...

You know from reading my book that I was angry, had temper tantrums, was hard, hard, hard on my kids. The good news is that there will come a day when someone will say to you with awe in their voice, "Your kids are great, wow! You have done a great job!" and you will realize that despite all the grumpy moods, and temper tantrums on everyone's parts, that you are closer with your kids than many of your friends are with theirs. They will know respect and empathy and kindness. They will grow into amazing teens and then adults who will have become stronger than most of their peers, not to mention resiliant, and you will look back and realize that even the hard, nasty stuff had its place.

I find now, if its any help, that when my kids are spinning out of control which has happened recently, I am strong and no longer succumb to my own temper tantrums. I am much better able to say, "OK, this is what's going on. You miss your dad, even though it seems like you are frustrated with homework." and you may be having to deal with Anxiety or OCD and may need a professional to help, but you will find one. And you will help them. And they will thank you. And you will be amazed.

darcie said...

Just this week my hubs had to remind me to stop throwing a tantrum and acting like I was the one who just turned four - jerk!
But he was right...Our daughter was refusing to wear anything BUT tights - AND ONLY TIGHTS - and we were late getting out the door - he told her it was ok - which in fact, it was not. I blew up - and then felt terrible afterwards...
I cannot imagine how overwhelmed you feel - I know how overwhelmed I feel -
Hang in there - and I am here if you need to yell or burn off some steam!! Without venting to my creeps on FB and twitter - I would lose my mind - no doubt!

Jill said...


Your kids know that you love them.

And that you are a great mom.

They'll remember the love -- don't be too hard on yourself!

Anonymous said...

I am feeling so lost as a mom right now and I am thankful for your being honest and wording it so well. I am trying to creat a balance and find harmony, but most the time I find I am screaming and having tantrums!?!?!? It is so hard to find that calm voice and try find the true need behind the behavior. My hubby keeps reminding me to not be so hard on myself?!? But.... I want to enjoys these times with my young children and look back with a warm smile and not feel sadness. I have all those books and some of the ones other's recommended. Please feel free to borrow them, as I am trying to plug my way through them. It would be neat if there was a parenting book club were we could connect and try solidify the info or work through any questions?!?!? You have great readers with super comments and I think they are right. Believe in yourself.

Ada Saab said...

When I'm feeling out of control, I tend to turn to books as well. I think I'll take a few off your list and give them a try. Hold on to Your Kids is a good one though. I've read it and enjoyed it.

You are not alone in your struggle. I seem to need a constant mantra in my head about not worrying about these things. We only have enough money to pay for two out of three bills as well. Sometimes I find myself thinking about these sorts of thing while my son is telling me about an adventure or a story he's made up. I'm not present with him because I'm too worried about the other stuff.

None of it is as important as making him feel loved. I try to think of the consequences to things before I yell now though. He's throwing the couch cushions around the room, a couch that has to last us fort he rest of our lives and he's ruining them! They will be ruined!! We will be sitting on cardboard boxes if he's not careful!!! But will he? He can't hit anything as he's only within range of a few bookcases. He's being creative making a fort. He's playing with his sister. We don't want him to think he lives in a glass house... it sill all be okay. Forest through the trees, Ada.

Wow. That was a novel.

I just wanted to say that you are normal and doing a great job. If you aren't patting yourself on the back, your readers will.

val said...

Sweetheart, my favorite, the one that transcended was Whole Child, Whole Parent by Polly Berends.

That's the one that saved me. If you have the option, the revised version is better than the original.

Apparently she learned some more stuff.

love, Val

Kathryn said...

Hey Jackie,
My stand by book is called Buddhism for Mothers, a calm approach to caring for yourself and your children by Sarah Napthali. And no, you don't have to be a Buddhist to read it. I bought it after wanting to make some changes too. I felt too stressed with the kids and often didn't like my over-reaction either. This book has helped me a bunch and try to keep things in perspective. If you want to take a sneek peek of it online, the ISBN # is 1-74114-010-2