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.

7 thoughts on “Honesty

  1. Oh Heidi, I could have written that exact post right now. Thanks for putting into words what’s been going on in my head. And when Ellie is acting out,, people seemed shocked that I was allowed to have another one. But like you, I sooo don’t want to take away that strong personality I love so much and know that one day could be used to do great things.Thanks friend for your honesty.

  2. Maybe I am partial to you and Lincoln, but I think you both are great! Yea he throws fits, but so does every kid I’ve ever known. You are doing great at parenting! I am glad I have you to ask advice when my toddler days arrive. People are annoying and love to give useless advice on everything. They can shove it. Lincoln is a wonderful child who will no doubt be the life of the party!

  3. Just happened to catch this blog post and wanted to let you know you that you’re not alone! Alyssa has ZERO patience and I find myself singing that annoying “have patience” song for two hours before she goes to bed. And let’s not even talk about the awesome roll-on the floor tantrums, food throwing, or my-way-or-the-highway attitude. Deep breaths mommy, we will make it through :)

  4. Well, if we’re being honest then, I’ll just go ahead and say it. My kids are perfect and I know exactly what I’m doing. (Ducking from lightning strikes.) No one ever judges me. People seem to love Graham’s high pitch squeal/scream when I ask him to do nearly anything not on his agenda. And, parents really like it when my suppose-to-know-better 4 year old just walks up and snatches a toy out of their kid’s hands.

    We all are judged. Truth be told, we all judge, but hopefully those of us who were blessed with little challengers can help each other out with a smile or empathizing gesture.

    You are a great mom. I’ve watched it. You’re not perfect (shock), but perfect is boring. Lincoln is going to turn out great someday, not because you properly enforced time out after one year of breastfeeding and the proper amount of co-sleeping and crib sleeping. He’s going to turn out great because you love him, you’ve got great support, you try really hard to be a good mom, and because he’s got lots of people praying for him.

    Chin up, carry on, and God speed. lol. I love Lincoln. I can’t wait to see him again. I’m sure he and Graham will have a nice sparring/screaming match next time they’re together.

  5. I think you’re an amazing mother, always so patient and always creating fun things for you guys to do together. There are very few moms as good as you. I am always so proud of your talents as a mother. And Lincoln is not bad at all, only an energetic little boy:)

  6. That pretty much sums up everything I was crying about yesterday to Daniel while Logan was throwing an epic tantrum (number 137894th of the day) about who knows what, lol. These strong willed kids can be tough! I too have sworn to never leave the house again, too bad that really isn’t an option :) let’s pray that these kids grow up to be strong willed adults who don’t give in to peer pressure!! :D

  7. Now I know what you and Jen were talking about on my status!- and I can honestly say this: I perfectly relate to you right now. Baby number 4 was quite a shocker to me in that she will throw an all out tantrum anywhere, anytime, unlike my other apparently near-perfect children in comparison. One of the worst embarrassing moments recently was dragging her screaming, flailing, and kicking me all the way down the castle steps and walking past a line of glaring people meeting Cinderella in Magic Kingdom. I was so sure it was her seizure medication causing a lot of this behavior- but her neurologist yesterday gently let me know that nope- it was all her.

    I don’t have it all together either- but I can tell you this particular stage doesn’t last forever; what I’ve learned in the past seven years is that while every moment isn’t enjoyable (no mom enjoys tantrums!), every moment is significant, and that the most important part of being a mother is to be an intentional mother. Every decision we make, every act of discipline we take, every advice we give- is to be intentional toward their future. I love bedtime as much as any mom, but I strive to not whittle away the time in between. After Lydia’s umpteenth tantrum and punishment tonight, and my eye constantly on the clock, I just had to take a deep breath, remember to be intentional, and find the nuggets of joy. Because the joy is always there- you just have to look really hard for it sometimes.

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