Feeling Like a Failure

by Heligirl on March 11, 2010

in Daily Ramblings,Parenting Tidbits

Failure - We can't spell it without UI try. I really, really do. I think, plan, study, hell I even write here about how to be the best parent I can be. Yet there are days when I just outright fail. And when I decide to fail, there’s no small “oops.” It’s an all out trip over your own two feet right in front of the guy you’ve had a crush on the first three months of the sixth grade school year and do a full on face plant, complete with carpet burn on your cheek and suffer the humiliation of him walking up to you and asking if your OK kind of failure (not that I harbor a photographic memory of all my failures or anything).

Today sweetness was at her daycare all day. She came in with Daddy (I drop her off, Daddy picks her up) and announced she had “fun at Kelli’s house.” She was in a great little mood. She played with Mr. Man and me as Daddy made dinner. She didn’t put up a fight when I mentioned she needed a diaper change. She was no harder than usual to get to wash her hands for dinner and she ate a big supper. We played after dinner for about 30 minutes, and she got both a five minute and a two minute warning that it was about time to get washed, brush teeth and head to bed. She even started talking to her car she was playing with, telling it “two more minutes until bed time.” But when it came time, Daddy swooped in to take her off to get undress and she came unglued without warning. She screamed bloody murder through getting undressed and while in the bathroom. I could hear Daddy trying to say funny things, talking in a calm voice to her, doing every thing he could to distract her. Finally, I knew he was reaching the end of his rope so I offered to help.

I tried talking to her. She was screaming “I want car!!” I told her I understood she wanted her car, but it was time to wash up for bed. She can play with her car tomorrow. She refused to let me wash her, ripping the washcloth from my hands. She threw the toothbrush across the bathroom. She was already half washed so I told her we had to finish washing and as I quickly tried to finish, she cranked it up yet another octave. I carried her to her room where she kicked me several times as I tried to put her down.

I could tell she was cold and tried to talk her into getting into her diaper and jammies, but she just screamed louder and louder. I tried to force on a diaper, and that was a total disaster that lead to even louder screams. Finally I could tell my blood was about to boil so I just walked out and shut the door. The screaming continued and she started beating on the door. When I went back in about three minutes later she took me to the diaper drawer and picked out a diaper. She let me put it on as she cried. When I reached for the pajamas she started screaming again, so I walked out again. When I returned the second time she allowed me to put on the pajamas and get her tucked in. She wanted me to snuggle and sing to her, but she kept alternating from sniffling and flailing and screaming until she finally wore herself out.

Now that I’ve had an hour to calm myself down (it’s so hard not to take the screaming, flailing and kicking personally), I can point out about 8,000 things I did wrong. It’s so easy to sit back and read about what you’re supposed to do, or write about it. But in the heat of the moment, it’s almost impossible to remember if you haven’t built it into a habit yet. A part of me thinks I should have just given her the car and that would have calmed her down for a bit, at least enough to finish getting washed and brush her teeth. I got into a power struggle, and a parent will ALWAYS lose the power struggle. Even if you win by not giving in (I didn’t give her the car), I lost by having 30 minutes of screaming and a really upset little girl. Another part of me wonders if I keep giving her what she wants when she gets like this, where will it end. She must learn some level of limits. Nine times out of 10 getting her to wash hands before a meal is a long, drawn out process of mind games and tears. I don’t give in on my rule. And she doesn’t give in on trying to get away with not washing hands. It’s so tiring.

But tonight I should have noticed she’d been gone all day, most likely holding in little hurts, and when she got home she just needed to let it out. It very likely had nothing at all to do with the car and everything to do with her cup of hurts overflowing. And I only made it worse by pushing through it with the nightly routine and not giving her license to just let it all out. I realized this toward the end and tried to talk to her about it with “Wow, you’re really upset. Let out the hurt so it feels better. It’s ok to let out all that hurt.” I think at that point she was so far gone I could have told her we were going to Disneyland and it wouldn’t have made a dent (even if she knew and cared what that place was).

I also failed by walking out. I literally abandoned her, sending the message that she’s not worth being around when she’s upset. She really poured on the desire to get me to show I loved her each time I showed back up. She tried to be cooperative even thought she hadn’t gotten all the hurt feelings out yet, solely because she wanted reassurance I loved her still. The poor little thing. I suck so bad it isn’t even funny. I think I feel the worst about that. What could I have done? Well, I need a break from the screaming so I should have told her that “Mommy needs a break. You let me know when you’re ready to get dressed and I’ll come help you. I love you,” then walked out and left the door open. I know she’d have followed me screaming and crying. I did at one point try to hold her and tell her I love her and to let it out, but again, she was too far gone to listen. My actions were what spoke at that point.

Ahh, 20-20 hindsight is a wonderful gift, isn’t it? So I stayed with her in her bed a bit, singing her our little song I’ve sung to her since the day after she was born, over and over at her request. I might not have been much help and made the tantrum worse earlier, but the least I could do was reconnect with some special time. Maybe I should start putting money away for her therapy now, at least to help her out a bit since it’s my fault she’ll need it.


Sarah March 12, 2010 at 7:57 pm

We all have days like this. Really, we do. Sweetness won’t need therapy (though you might after she goes through her teenage years!) and she knows she’s loved. Boy does it suck to have this kind of meltdown, though…

Heligirl March 14, 2010 at 7:05 pm

LOL. Thanks sweetie! We had a much better day the next day and I took my patience with me during bath and bed time. We had a much better evening.

Ramblings of a Woman June 24, 2010 at 7:49 pm

My girls are almost all grown. I can say we had more than one stong-willed one, plus they got it from somewhere (definitely not me) Believe it or not, kids are resilient. Yes, we need to be as good of a parent that we can, but we also have to give ourselves a break. Nobody’s perfect. And when our children get older, they, of course, know that. However, once they get past the teenage years, they realize we are not perfect, we’re just human, just like them. I can honestly say that my oldest daughter is my best friend (she is 28)!
Ramblings of a Woman recently posted: Collecting more stones or treasuring our diamonds?

Heligirl June 25, 2010 at 5:37 am

Thanks so much for the kind support my dear! You give me such hope though that your daughter is your best friend. When they’re all grown I pray that will be the case with us too. Thanks again for taking the time to write. It means a lot to me to get support from other moms. 🙂

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