(My) Parenting Sucks (Sometimes)

I've been ingesting some words about mean, bully parents. At first blush I would be all "No WAY am I that kind of parent!" But if I am going to be perfectly honest, I am not exactly June Cleaver either. It is very easy to get me yelling. Add that to my super snarky mouth/tone, and I am probably not great. (My kids are picking up some of the snark-mouth and if that doesn't send me off a rage cliff, I don't know what would) Like the other day. The day when the high was THIRTY FIVE? Yes. Well, one of the twins has some serious beef with coats. Hates them, she does. And after day three of constant incessant whining about jacket-putting-on, I saw her step off the bus with nothing but a thin shirt on, her coat stuffed into her bulging backpack.

I gave her a look. The disapproving look. And she had the cajones to snark back "WHAT?!" Like it wasn't freezing outside and her skin didn't recoil as soon as the wind bit through her shirt. I yelled. When I tell you to put your coat on you say "Yes Mom" and DO IT. So it went like this.

Me: What do you say when I tell you to put a coat on? (yeah, there's a raised voice here, in public, at the bus stop)

Her: (Sobbing by now) "I don't wanna say it"

Me: "I can keep this up ALL DAY, little lady. WHAT DO YOU SAY WHEN I TELL YOU TO PUT A COAT ON?"

Repeat until we get home. She had to have two time outs before she would answer me. (the answer was only "Yes Mom.")

I still felt like a crappy parent. I had made a legitimate scene. And she was sobbing and cowering (but not saying the TWO WORDS, either!) It just didn't look good.

And then I saw The Bully Too Close To Home in my FB feed. It's worth a read. There is a good point there, I'm just not sure what to do about it. (I'll use bullet points on that later) I essentially do agree. The part that struck me most was this:

"Every time I came down hard on my daughter, I justified my behavior by telling myself I was doing it to help her—help her become more responsible, capable, efficient, and prepare for the real world.
I told myself I was building her up.
But in reality, I was tearing her down."
This is part of my parenting-style. I am not your-best-friend parent. I am a big believer in some pretty solid discipline!

I also heavily identified with what she told her daughter after a blow-up:

“I feel mad inside a lot. I often speak badly about myself in my head. I bully myself. And when I bully myself, it makes me unhappy and then I treat others badly—especially you. It is not right, and I am going to stop. I am not sure how, but I will stop. I am so very sorry,” 
I feel mad inside a lot. I'm not happy sunshine person. I'm a NICE person in general, but for sure I'm a pessimist to the core. I also do my fair share of berating myself. I'm taking some things to help with that, but that is for another post entirely.

Soon after that, I read about Jerry. (and that's a heartbreaking story, for sure) My mind instantly recalled the coat incident. To the other parents I could have been seen in a similar light to Jerry's Dad. And that thought makes my stomach all crumply.

Obviously I'm not a monster, and for the most part I realize that. I just also see some definite room for improvement. I seem to be stuck on just how to go about that. You see, I dream up all these idyllic parenting "strategies" that involve smiles and hugs and "positive reinforcement," but I feel like I've tried these and they've failed me. I also have some other little bullet points that knock me off my train of thought.

- Like drill sergeants. This hard nosed tough love is not new! It is The Official Discipline Strategy of the freaking US Military. The results seem to be proven, even! So where am I going wrong? This is starting to sound like the premise to The Sound of Music. I'll bet that guy, Mr. VonTrapp didn't get much sassy lip! (I assure you, we do have moments where we sew coordinating outfits out of our curtains)

- I really despise the no-backbone, best friend parent. The boundary-less home where the kids run amok and the parents just look dazed and confused as to how it all got this way. "I just don't understand why little Jimmy is a coked up unemployed drug dealer!" It's because you screwed the pooch on discipline, MARTHA. (yes, I like to name my pretend characters)

- Ok, so fine. I only had two points as it turns out. 

- The third point just came to me! While I do not, by any means, over schedule our family, there are STILL things that need to happen in a timely, organized fashion. That is where The Bully Too Close to Home lost me. We have to get dressed! In clothes that are season/PE appropriate! And brush our teeth! And be on time for the bus every morning. We need to put on coats without going into a meltdown every single time! There are (many!) circumstances that involve complete cooperation during the day just to get through. And darn it, if I have a migraine in the morning, I don't think it's too much to demand the shrieking silly voices TURN IT DOWN MANY NOTCHES. Because I'm the parent and I can make rules like that. BAH HUMBUG!

In the end I think my kids are "happy" and well-adjusted enough. I do notice that they are quick to recoil and seem to dart around like skittish deer. They're starting to call me out on my bad moods sometimes too. Look, we all know Mommy is PMSing. BUT THAT DOESN'T GET YOU OUT OF EATING YOUR BREAKFAST. Yet other times I feel perfectly justified in my reasonable, non-yelling actions, and I still get a stray "You're SO MEAN, MOMMY." from the more sassy segment of the children. No, you kicked your brother IN THE FACE, and so I issued a No More Kung Fu policy. I'm not the mean one here, sassy child.

This is where I flail my hands in the air and grab a Coke from the fridge and mutter Some Things under my breath. Because I just don't get it. I know no parent REALLY gets it. It's just that so many other people make it APPEAR that they do! The sunny Moms who have a zillion homeschooled children and LOVE IT.

I am not that person.

I should stop now. You get the point.

Le Sigh.


  1. This hit really close to home. I had already read about Jerry and went to Rachel's post (and bought her book. I feel like it will be handy during my new SAHM adventure.)

    I feel like an ineffective drill sergeant. There is lots of yelling and still a good bit of glassy eyed confusion. I guess what I am saying is I don't know what the heck I am doing or how to achieve the desired outcome.

    Man, do I wish I was one of those sunny moms.

  2. With you all the way, sister. Parenting (good parenting, mind you) is hard. I read that blog post too and bawled my eyes out because I'm totally that mom and was mothered by that mom. I am also like you though and don't really know how to change the things that require order and respect. Sheesh.... this is hard.