Me: “Lincoln, do you want to go to time out?”
Lincoln: “Let’s goooooo!!!!!!”
Not quite the reaction I was hoping for. The truth is that many of my days are spent in conversations similar to this one where I’m trying to communicate with and discipline a 21-month-old. There is a battle that goes on daily where Lincoln is attempting to convince me that he is in control and he’s the boss of this family.
The night before the time out incident, we had yet another time out incident. I like to take his little stool into the hallway and make him sit there for 1-2 minutes after an offense. Of course, he’s not a fan of me making him sit still, even if it’s only for a minute. So when timeout had ended, I took the stool out of the hallway and back to where it belonged. Well, Mr. I’ll-Show-You-Who’s-In-Control went and grabbed his stool, took it back to the hallway, sat in it, and stared me down as if to say, “I like sitting here. Your discipline doesn’t bother me one bit”. I could go on and on with incidences of defiance that this tiny person has carried out against me in recent months.
As long as we’re having an honest conversation, I’d like to say that being a mom is really, really difficult right now. I don’t always know the right answer or know what to do with him. Is that okay to say? Will someone come knock on my door and take my child if I admit that I don’t always know what I’m doing as a mom? Because I am really trying to find a way to raise a kind and respectful child, but some days I feel like a big, fat failure. Some days I think it would be easier just to keep him locked up in the house until we complete these toddler years. It seems that every time we attempt to go into public, the outing ends with Lincoln pitching a fit, and I leave feeling judged. I feel that when you are anywhere around people with a rowdy, defiant child, you are being judged and looked down upon, and it’s not easy. Sometimes the disapproving looks or comments come from strangers, but it’s much worse when they come from people you know. Sometimes I just want to shout, “I know that this behavior is unacceptable, and we’re working on it, we really are, but he’s not even 2-years-old yet, and there’s only so much I can do in the middle of a restaurant, OKAY?????”
I think there is always a worry in the back of my mind that I’m not doing things right, or that I’m not as good at this mom thing as I hoped I would be, and so many times I feel the need for encouragement. I want so badly for someone to reassure me that I’m doing okay and that I’ll figure it all out. I think that with that in mind, the stares and unsolicited (unproductive) advice from people tend to make me question myself even more. I know it shouldn’t, and I know we should all strive to not care what people think about us, but being a mom invites judgement and criticism, and that’s hard. The debates and opinions start before birth and don’t stop. Med-free or epidural birth? Breastfeed or bottle feed? Bed-share, co-sleep or crib sleep? How will you discipline? Oh, your child is throwing a fit? I used to (insert antiquated advice here) and my child never misbehaved again. Isn’t your child speaking in full sentences yet??? Mine was reciting portions of the Encyclopedia by that age! It’s really overwhelming.
So there’s my confession. I don’t have it all together. I don’t know all the answers to raising a well-behaved child. I don’t have a well-behaved child at this exact time. I have an energetic, curious, stubborn, opinionated toddler that will pitch a fit and throw down any time, any place. We’re working on it. Believe me, every day Mike & I are working on finding a way to help Lincoln learn obedience without putting out the flames of the fiery personality God gave him. That’s life right now. That’s where we are. So now if you happen to witness one of his epic meltdowns in aisle 5 of Publix or the middle of the lobby at church or the park or a restaurant, you’ll know that I’m just doing my best. Say a prayer for my sanity and for wisdom to be the kind of parent I need to be. And if I happen to see something similar from another child, I’ll do the same for that poor momma, because I know exactly how she feels.