Spending a month away from your home and your stuff and your hubbs can bring out the worst in you and your kiddos. Obviously. And there's no better way to test this theory than to spend that month in hot and humid. And so, we did.
And here are some lessons I learned, some tidbits I discovered about myself and my babygirl, and some other general nonsense that I find amusing.
First up. Babygirl does NOT fair well without daddy. 2 weeks with him gone made her a sobby mess almost every morning. So we decided that we'll have to cancel our plans to fly to Jersey for Thanksgiving and stay through the Christmas season while daddy travels back and forth. It does nothing but frustrate everyone involved. And also? If I come home to more piles of cat vomit again, there's a good chance that they will not survive.
But this brings me to my next point. The sobby mess. The LOUD sobby mess. I felt awful that my poor brother got stuck in a room with no door and missing a wall, and subsequently had to hear the screaming and crying all early. And I realize that it's not a pleasant sound. especially when it lasts for what seems like forever. But I'm SO grateful that she expresses her emotions. I'm beyond thrilled that she feels comfortable enough to just let it rip. And so. I don't stop her. I did try to take her into a different room so she wasn't waking the dead, but I did not try to shush her, or tell her it was all ok (because for her it wasn't), or tell her to quit her crying before I give her something to cry about. I let it roll. And I hugged her when she wanted a hug. And I just sat in the room when she wanted her space. And when she said "I want take a calm", we took a few nice calm breaths, and then we talked. And then she went about her day. Was it loud? Yup. Was it probably annoying to those around us? Yup. Did I care? Maybe a little, cause I don't like causing other people distress, but I'm finding as a parent that I care a LOT less about others' perceptions of me when it comes to my kids. And, let me be clear, no one suggested I should, but I am SO glad that we decided not to just smack the emotions out of my child. Because I'm sure from the outside, it just looked like I had a defiant child who was having a tantrum because I told her no or she couldn't have something that she wanted, and her screaming was perceived as just being an undisciplined brat. I know that's what I would have thought prior to having children. And I would have added "they should just spank her". My my my, I owe a lot of people apologies for my judgey-ness pre-kiddos.
And that's the thing. You, dear outsider, have zero ideas what my child is going through at that moment that you see tantrum. That you see "defiance". So you, dear outsider, don't get a say in how I tend to that child. And I'm sorry that your sensitive little ear drums just couldn't handle the 5 seconds you walked by us and witnessed chaos. But trust me, the 30 minutes that I dealt with it were no picnic. But let me assure you, I'm not about to do something I don't believe in to my child because you don't like her behavior at that moment.
Which brings me to my next point. "No". There's not one other word in the English language that your kiddo can say to you that gets your blood boiling like this word. But. I love it. Maybe it's cause I have a girl. Maybe it's because of my inability to say this word to people my whole life. Especially when it came to boys, and what they wanted to do, and what I didn't want to do, but didn't ever feel like I had the power to simply say NO. To say NO to the jokes at work that offended me, or the constant barrage of IM's, phonecalls, following and cornering me into talking to you because you really wanted to, even though I repeatedly tried to avoid you at all costs. NO to the date that bought me dinner so thought I owed him something.
Stay with me here.
Do I love the fact that my daughter says "NO" to me as often as she does? Of course not. I'm a parent, and I want her to know that she has to listen to and respect me. HOWEVER. I want her to use that NO. I want her to wield it's power. Often. I want her to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that she is allowed, ENCOURAGED, to say NO when it makes her uncomfortable. Uneasy. When it's her body. When it feels wrong, even if it's a trusted adult telling you to do it. Use that NO. Yell it if you have to. Even if it's to daddy or I. Sometimes, she says no just to try it out. Says no, but does what I ask. And sometimes, she says no, stands her ground, and I realize that she's right and she can say no. I pour her a drink and she says NO because she wanted water, not milk. It's her body. She's right. Bring on the no.
If someone could tell me where the switch is to flip on and off your perception of when you're able to use NO when you're 3, then by all means, I won't let her say no to me anymore. But since that doesn't actually exist, I'm gonna go ahead and let her say it. I don't ever want to take that power away from her. Don't get me wrong. When we want her to do something, and she says no, we get on her level, look her in the eye, and explain that she needs to do what we're asking (put away toys, don't spit water at your brother, etc). And she usually does it, as most toddlers usually do. But I don't tell her "You're not allowed to say NO to me". Because that's not what I want for her. And it could just be my sensitivity and issues with it that lead us to parent this way. But either way, it's how we roll.
And her volume. Oh, her volume. When she gets excited, this girl can out-scream a shrieking monkey. It's loud, kind of hilarious, and at times, a bit much. But I'm not about to kill her excitement, her pure joy, for the sake of my ears. So we roll with it. And we roll NOTICEABLY, because loud. But, when you take a look at her face (and little man's face, because of course he got the screamy gene as well), and you see the pure elation. Well, you don't ask them to dampen it down. You just can't.
I started writing this post about a week after we got home from Jersey. That was at least a month ago, if not more. It felt angry then. And like I was desperately trying to justify my parenting, our behavior, our perceived errors. So I held off. But now, rereading? I love it. And I'm sticking with it. Because it's how we choose to parent our kiddos. And it's working for us. Quite well, actually. I love that they feel all the feels, because I never did. I always wanted to be perfect. I hate confrontation. So regardless of how I felt, I buried it down and pushed through. Never talking to anyone about my true feelings, sometimes getting really frustrated, and finally exploding until the point of no return, which resulted in ended friendships and lots of tears. I'm working on this. I'm working on finding my voice, for the sake of my kids. But I'm making sure they always know they can use theirs.