Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Second Year Woes

Because I really don't want to call it the Terrible Twos. I mean, it's not terrible. It's just challenging. He challenges, I am challenged, and our tempers cross multiple times a day. I refuse to sit here and speak to you that I am a patient person throughout all of this. Besides, if you are reading this blog, you probably know me. Which means you know that patience is something that I have in fluctuating amounts. Some days we do great...other days, I pull my hair out and by the time my poor husband gets home, I am ready to crawl into a corner and cry for a bit. Whoever said that being a stay at home mom was easy, didn't do it.

Not that it is all one horrible event after another. If you think that, then you don't have kids yet. Even people who thought they would be horrible parents and were scared to death to have children, dote on and adore their children. Kids make us laugh. They make us cry. They make us frustrated. They make us think, learn and grow. They complete the family the God intended most of us to be a part of.

What I am saying is that it's not all joyfulness. Even when you grit your teeth and chant over and over and over, I will be joyful, I choose to be joyful, I am joyful. Right. Sure you are. That is why you have tension headaches that start at that clenched jaw point.

The point of this entry is not to encourage you. No, it is actually for me to vent. And if you find some encouragement in that, then praise the Lord. He does indeed work all things together for His good. I love my children. They are some of the most amazing blessings that the Lord has sent my way. He has taught me much through them, and that is just within the first 27 months. I shudder a bit, but look forward to what the rest of our lives teach me.

No, the point here is for me to say, this is a hard age. There is understanding on the part of my son, but how much of it does he really get? Forget the experts and the books. (and believe me, I read plenty of books) Let's talk nitty-gritty, real life kids. How much of what I am saying does my son get? How much does he simply not understand? How much is he pushing me and how much is he ignoring me? When do I discipline? How do I discipline? How long do I leave him in time out? Is time out really a discipline for my child, or a time for me to gather myself so that I can speak words of wisdom and not words of aggravation? Where do those words of wisdom come from, anyway? What things in his life do I really push to accomplish? Is potty training really so important that I should make the whole family miserable over it? (have you seen how large diapers come these days?) What are his boundaries for independence? How do I know when he needs firmness and when he just needs a hug? How long can I use the excuse, He is still so little? How do you teach table manners to a two year old?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Consistency is key. I agree with that. Whole heartedly. But you have to figure that what Family A is modeling works for them, and that you can't just copy it over to your family. Family B is all messed up, and yet, you feel more like them most of the time. Make me family C. I don't need to exude perfectness to those around me. I am okay with toddlers who scream their frustration from time to time. Heck, I do. But, by the same token, I don't want to be so lax with the job the Lord has given me that my children grow up to be unstable and unsure and undisciplined. It's not okay for them to throw themselves down on the ground every time they are responded to negatively. The world just isn't that nice of a place.

One of the hardest things, I think, though most of us don't admit it or maybe don't even recognize it, is looking at other families and making comparisons. How come my child can't do that? Why is he not saying this or that? Why doesn't he know what to do with this set of circumstances? How is it that he is so much less advanced physically, socially, academically? And in some cases, of course, my child exceeds the accomplishments of others. And in some places he falls short. But not really. Just if I get careless and start making those comparisons.

Another place that gets sticky, for me anyway, is all the advice. Everyone has some. Some people give it out with a sweet spirit. Their hearts are in the right place, even if you don't want to hear the words. But it is easier to take the advice and wisdom that these people offer, because of the sincerity of it. It's people who mouth off about "How many kids are you going to have?" and How come you spank/don't spank for this or that? You should do ___________. I have to admit, I hate that kind of critical help. There is a place for it. But targeting it at an overwhelmed young mother is not that place. So there. I got that off my chest.

I am told that it gets easier. I believe this, but let's talk about how to keep up the sanity and the work of our Father in the mean time. I mean, my kids don't even speak in whole sentences yet. They can't express themselves in a way that is 100% understandable. Then, neither is language, I suppose. I mean, I know that this entry will not make sense to several folks out there.

But I look forward to the communicative years. I pray that we build strong enough foundations that we always stay communicative. And I know I am laying some of the groundwork for that now. I just need to let out some steam occasionally.

5 comments:

Jennifer said...

I understand you totally. I have been lurking around your blog for a few weeks now, and I love to hear tales of your children. I have three under the age of four, and I get what you are saying. Stay the course, my friend!

Stacia said...

I'm so glad I know a Mom that feels the exact same way I do. Having a 41/2 year old I've totally forgotten what the 2's are like and I'm having a hard time relating to Nicholas. It's easier with Jonathan because he is older and can talk in complete sentences but then you find out how well you have parented and some of the things you have said that you hope he hadn't heard.
I don't know if it gets easier every stage has its challenges. I do know we stay the course and send up prayers every moment of the day. Please Lord get me through and show me what to do.
Hang in there. This to shall pass.

Andrew said...

He. Yes, I think I've asked most of those questions this week :) I suppose my hope is that if I repeat it enough, and I model what I say that eventually some of it will stick.

Comparisons are also not easy, I agree. (Ehemm. Adam, walking? Of course not) I guess that's where I pray for Grace. "Look Lord, they didn't do everything right, but their kids turned out well..."

Stick to what you know, and consider the rest optional. Read God's word to them, and model it in your actions. Hey, they'll go to the potty when they are 16, and sometimes the long-term view is all that keeps us sane.

Laura said...

Aubrey, my sweet beautiful cousin, you are such a blessing to our family. Joshua, Joe and Diane,your children, many others, and to me in ways you just don't know. I love you.

Ok, all sentiment aside. Your family will find its own way. When you get criticism and advice from others, sift through it for what makes sense to you, and toss the rest; especially any that comes from me!

Comparing kids:

I thought Kasey was brilliant, until he started school. They put him in special education! I let them. What did I know? He’s my first. I trusted the school system.

He graduated high school as a valedictorian and an All-State clarinetist. He is unbelievably creative, and nearly always the best at whatever he decides he wants to do.

It was nearly impossible to teach him to ride a bicycle. He could never play any kind of ball. He is a champion swimmer. (How Freeman is that?)

It does get easier, in some ways. They will get to where you don’t have to have a hand on them all the time. Until then, you will wrestle them for a while. They will learn to potty. They will learn table manners. Sometimes external forces are most effective. Thomas is not going to go to school in diapers, I assure you. Until then, who cares!!

They will communicate:

Be careful for what you wish! Wait until the temper tantrum goes from throwing themselves on the ground and screaming to screaming “I HATE YOU!” and squealing out of the driveway.

Comparing parents:

Kasey, sometime in elementary school, caught on to the fact that many of his church friends went to Christian schools or, better yet, were home schooled.

Kasey:

Mom, if you were a good Christian mother, you would stay home and home school us. (Picture that! Right. If I stayed home and home schooled, I’d be doing life without parole for infanticide!)

Well at least, you should send us to Christian School!

As selfish as this must sound, there was no way we could afford private schools; after all, I was in school too! I had college tuition to pay!

But I had an answer for him. “Kasey, Jesus said, ‘Go ye into all the world and spread the Good News!’” Ok, manipulating the Gospel may be a special sin, but if you think the public schools are in trouble now . . . just pull out the Christian kids and cubby hole them. Isolation, I think, is not part of the plan. Without things like FCA and “Meet You at the Pole,” and Christian teachers (!!) what happens to public schools?

Sarah’s best friend most of the way through school was Megan. Megan was a talented gymnast from a very early age. Megan’s mom, Wanda, took Megan to gymnastics practice daily; meets and tournaments on the weekends. Wanda was always around to bake cookies, help with homework, be homeroom mother, PTA president . . . whatever real moms are supposed to be doing.

Sarah:

Mom, why can’t you be like Wanda?

(GUILT GUILT GUILT GUILT COMPOUNDED BY THE FACT THAT I DIVORCED THEIR FATHER GUILT GUILT GUILT GUILT)

For this one, I did not have so ready a glib answer.

From my perspective, my child raising years flew by. I was always in school. David and I put a great deal of energy into our careers. There were nearly always at least five kids in the house. Our time, finances, energy, strength, nerves, patience, emotions, etc. were stretched way too thin.

The house was loud. The kids loved to visit my parents just for the peace. Kids, dogs, guinea pigs, fish, birds everywhere. It was a zoo, and that was just inside the house. Outside were horses, snakes, scorpions, frogs, turtles, more dogs, cats, squirrels (in the attic among other places), hawks, owls, coyotes, possums, and raccoons . . . yes, raccoons, swimming in the pool, raccoons. And I can’t count the number of cars and the stages of disrepair we’ve displayed in the driveway over the course of five teenagers.

Stable? Not. Christian? We tried. Perfect? HAH! Chaotic? Absolutely.

So, our baby Sarah, who will turn 20 in January, when she graduated from high school wrote this on her own blog space:

Sarah:

So today it hits me...I'm graduating. Where has my senior year gone? Better yet, where has the past 14 years I've been in school gone? The time has flown by. I never thought graduation day would ever come and yet it's tomorrow. Today is the first day that I have been truly sad about graduating. Sure I am happy about moving on to bigger and better things but I can't help but be sad about ending one the greatest times in my life. To top it all off, my mom tells me today that she is thinking about selling my car and my house. Let me tell you...that hit me like a ton of bricks. Okay so my car isn't some fancy Mercedes Benz but it was my first car. It's the car my mom drove me down to Texas to surprise me with. It's the car I ran up a tree that night I fell asleep at the wheel. It's the car that has been rear-ended twice and has had a blown engine because I didn’t know that when your check engine light comes on it means STOP DRIVING NOW. I love my little red Integra. She's been a real trooper. Though I am sad about my car I am even more upset about my house. MY HOUSE!!! I've lived there for 15 years. I really don't remember my life before living in that house. I know it doesn't make sense for my dad to live there all by himself now that my momma is in D.C. and all of the kids are gone but it's not really his house. If you think about it, it's really mine, and Kasey's, and Torie's, and Daniel's and David's. Sure my parents pay the bills and all but they didn't grow up there. They don't call it home like we do or at least I do. I think about all that's happened there. All the kids that have lived there, whether they are my brothers and sister, my cousins, or the millions of exchange students I've had. All the birthday parties, slumber parties, or pool parties I've had. All the holidays we've celebrated there. All the fights and make-ups. All the memories I have are in my house. I can't imagine coming home from Germany to a strange house. A house that doesn't smell like 15 years of Catletts/Clampitts, dogs, and whatever candles my mom has burned. A house that isn't mine. Aside from my parents getting divorced and my mom moving to D.C. nothing much in the past 19 years has really changed. I've had a happy and stable life. All of that is going to change. Tomorrow is the first day of the biggest transition of my life. Everything is happening so fast. How am I supposed to handle everything at once? I feel like my world is being ripped away.

Well, we didn’t sell her car. And the zoo that is our house is much worse for the wear, and now houses fewer mammals . . . we didn’t sell it either. Rest assured that Sarah’s world has not really been ripped apart, but it is changing. It happens to all of us.

But who knew? Sarah’s perspective on her upbringing is so different than mine.

And guess what, as Sarah and Megan grew up, Sarah discovered that Megan’s family wasn’t perfect either. Wanda drove Megan crazy too. Sarah would say when Megan would complain, “Ahhhh. I love your mom!” Megan would say, “Huh-uh, I love your mom. I wish my mom was so cool!”

They have all, ALL, all five of them grown up and turned out pretty well, probably in spite of me more than because of me.

So take heart. You and Joshua are finding your own way, and it will mercifully be different and no doubt better than mine.

It will get better. But brace yourself for much bigger battles ahead.

Put on the armor of God and remember that the Proverb says to train a child up in the way (s)he should go, and when (s)he is old, (s)he will not turn from it. It makes no promises about them sticking to the plan when they are young!

Your worth is far above rubies.

Much love,

Laura

Laura Forman said...

Aubrey, I know that I don't leave comments very often and actually I don't know that I ever have! But I do want you to know that I look at your blog everyday to see what's up in the Freeman household :) I want to thank you so much for your transparency with us about how you are feeling raising your children. It was so encouraging to see your honesty and through it all you are still focused on Him! So, thank you for that!!!
I love you and I am so thankful for you!!!

Laura :)