The last few weeks have been a constant battle with Gunner over every little thing, and every little task. And on top of that, I've had to enforce the consequences day after day. Needless to say, I have been burnt out.
Our negative interactions were building and compounding and I was literally at my wits end. (Imagine me laying on my bed kicking and screaming like an actual three year old.) And Gunner was acting out even more because he had lost all of his special privileges. It had turned into quite an ugly little cycle. I cringe even typing this; I'm embarrassed to even admit it, but I just haven't liked him lately. I mean obviously I love him. but the fun and joy in our relationship were essentially gone.
I feel like I've gotten stuck in this routine of pushing good behavior and punishing him for bad behavior that we've strayed from the most important parts of our relationship. My sister told me, "Just focus on being the kind of mom you want to be." Think about the kind of mom you'd like to be. Is it anything close to the mom you were today? I'm sure for most of you, it is.
But for me, I'd like to be the mom that laughs with my kids everyday (at a bare minimum.) I'd like to be the mom that they go on adventures and face their fears with. I'd like to be the mom that builds them up and shows them that love is the most powerful force in the world.
But when I take a real, rose-free look at the mom I've been over the last few weeks, I get sick to my stomach. I've become this mom that is constantly correcting behavior and enforcing consequences. This morning, I couldn't even remember the last time I actually laughed with Gunner because I've been so busy being frustrated with him. I haven't wanted to take him to do fun things because I was afraid of rewarding bad behavior. I've become a "no mom." And honestly, I had no idea how detrimental this would be to my cause-- what felt like such an important cause: good behavior.
Of course teaching our children good behavior is important. Probably one of the more important parts of this gig. But I've gotten so wrapped up in it that I've completely lost track of who I am and who I want to be to him. Do I really want to be this authoritarian figure in his life? No! Do I want him to remember me as that mean lady who took away his toys because he wouldn't nap? I mean obviously not. I'm like laughing as I type this because it's just so obvious. But I've been so focussed of curbing the bad behavior that it has taken a toll on our relationship. And I've strayed so far from being the mom that I truly want to be.
So after some much needed advice (and a serious pep talk) from my mom and sister, I decided that we both needed a reboot. I woke up this morning feeling sick and tired of being a "no mom", it's obviously not working, and I committed myself to being a "yes mom" for the day. My rules were as follows:
1. Say YES.
2. Don't say NO**.
**It is appropriate to say no if: A. He asks to do something that would risk his or someone else's (Penelope's) life. B. He asks to do something that would permanently destroy our home. And guess what, I only had to say no to like 5 of his ideas! (WIN!!)
So we started out our day with a trip to Dunkin Donuts in our PJs which set a really
Let's just say, we got a lot done. I mean I didn't get a lot done. I didn't get anything on my to-do list done, and my house looks like a bomb exploded, but isn't that kind of the point? My relationship with Gunner needs to become a higher priority than my long to-do list, and my (apparently) too high expectations of him. If Gunner was capable of making a to-do list at the beginning of the day, I think we'd have crossed every single thing off. And that's kind of amazing.
Today was a reboot. It was a day completely focussed on his wants and needs, and that is obviously not a sustainable lifestyle. But today was a way for Gunner and I to shake off those lingering frustrations with each other. We needed a fun, easy, and happy day together. We needed to remember how much we love to be together. We laughed and played and wrestled. We were creative and silly and excited.
Now, this reboot was by no means a quick fix. His behavior wasn't perfect. I still got punched a couple times. He still screamed that he didn't want to be my friend anymore. And I still had to ask him six or seven times to come back to the table to eat his dinner. But you guys, I like him again. And for the first time in a long time, I feel like I might actually survive this. And that is a huge improvement. (There was no kicking and screaming from either of us today.)
So now we'll attempt to maintain our postive momentum at a sustainable pace. Thanks again to the wise words from my big sis, "Say yes as much as you can & no when you can't!"
I'll go to bed tonight exhausted, with a messy house, and an extra long to-do list for tomorrow. But with my heart at peace, knowing that I'm at least one day closer to being the kind of mom I want to be.