The Control Freak

by Heligirl on June 24, 2010

in Daily Ramblings

My 2 ½ year old is a total and complete control freak. She must have full control over every last detail of every thing lately, down to coming into the room and demanding that I uncross my legs. And if control is not hers? Oh may God have mercy on your soul as she will release the kraken, (her terrible tantrums that have reached mythological proportions). It’s a near constant battle of the wills and a fight for control all day every day in our house that leaves me tired and not a little sad that we’ve spent so much of the day locking horns.

However, in the end, I don’t know what upsets me the most: that she’s in this frustrating control stage, or the fact that she’s currently acting a hell of a lot like me.

Truth is, I see the painful similarity quite clearly, but just in case, Hubby doesn’t miss the chance to squeeze in a “no question whose daughter she is” from time to time for good measure. Of course, this just rubs salt on the wound.

When I was in the pit of despair, the lowest point in my life, people crossed my path and gave me knowledge, advice and direction I desperately needed at the time. One of those people was a healer of sorts and she told me that I attract what I put out there. Put out love, get love. Put out anger, get anger. And so on. She also talked about how those people were my mirror.

I don’t know how much you can associate a 2 year old’s insistence on exploring her own independence on me attracting someone into my life to be a mirror on myself, but the prospect is rather disturbing. Perhaps it simply stems from another piece of wisdom this woman shared, “what bothers you the most about the people that irritate you is the fact that they have the traits you most dislike about yourself.”

Perhaps the truth lies in there. I’m a control freak, no doubt about it. I like things the way I like them. I have an eye for what I want and a clear vision of how things need to be. God help you if you just can’t do it my way. Maybe it comes from years of criticism and thus my neverending quest to be perfect to keep the criticism away. Sadly, I can be rather critical and short on patience when things aren’t going how I want, and I simple loath that about myself. Make no mistake, though. I’m a perfectionist and a control freak. Just like my daughter.

People who aren’t parents or don’t work with children may believe to some extent that the parent-child relationship is mainly about the parent teaching the child. How far from the truth. There is so much we can learn from them if we have the ability to silence ourselves long enough. Seeing things through their eyes, experiencing innocence again through them, and, my biggy, seeing your own short comings in how they choose to express themselves can alone be some of the biggest lessons a child can teach an adult.

So, for me, that little control freak who seems to get a demonic amount of pleasure out of testing my every last limit and nerve is in fact showing me I need to learn how to relinquish some control from time to time and find a better balance. Perhaps by learning to do that now I can in return teach her that valuable lesson through my own actions, saving her the agony of becoming a life long control freak herself.

Special thanks to Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop for this writer’s prompt – What does your child do that reminds you most of yourself? How does it make you feel?


Momma Drama June 24, 2010 at 7:15 am

Oh, I’m so feeling you on this post. Great post. My almost 3 year old son is in the same type of “mode” – not so much controlling, but like me, a screamer. Yes, I scream. A lot. Not necessarily at my children, but definately at my husband, at my mom, at the cat… and now he’s starting to do the same thing and I’m all “STOP with the screaming already” Jeez…

Yeah, now I know the cat’s saying the same thing about me…

It’s a little bit of twisted poetry that the most basic personalities at 2 years old can teach us a thing or two about ourselves.
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Twitter: Heligirl
June 24, 2010 at 8:43 am

Ahhh, the screamer. Sweetness pulls that one more than a few million times a day too. Her tantrums go from 0 to 100 in less than a second. The noise hurts my ears most times. I don’t scream that much, but I’ve really started to after listening to that all the time. God help us!!

Love that you now know what the cat’s been saying. I bet it’s loving watching the tables be turned. 🙂
Heligirl recently posted: The Control Freak

Pamela June 24, 2010 at 8:38 am

I can also totally relate to the control freak issue. I know that I am one (at least that’s what my hubby says, too) and my son is just like your daughter, telling me how to hold things, when I should and should not sing (which is almost never, according to him) where to sit at the table …it goes on & on & drives us crazy! I guess I do need to work on letting stuff go, but it’s so hard and I’m afraid – mostly of messes. I can’t handle messes!!
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Twitter: Heligirl
June 24, 2010 at 8:41 am

Oh man, thanks so much for sharing Pamela. It’s so comforting to know others are going through the same thing. We’re going batty over here around this. I finally put my foot down and said “I am in control of my body and will decide when, where and how I sit/put my arms/stand/etc. After a few days of saying that ad nauseum I think she gets it. She’ll still demand, but no longer pushes it.
Heligirl recently posted: The Control Freak

Rachel {at} Mommy Needs a Vacation June 24, 2010 at 9:57 am

Oh yeah! My daughter and I are both big control freaks too! I forgot to put that in my post!!
Rachel {at} Mommy Needs a Vacation recently posted: Mirror mirror on the wall, my daughter is me after-all

Susan June 24, 2010 at 10:15 am

The quote you mention–> Perhaps it simply stems from another piece of wisdom this woman shared, “what bothers you the most about the people that irritate you is the fact that they have the traits you most dislike about yourself.” – is so very true. And nothing drives it home like one’s own kid. I have learned more about myself by having my son, than I ever would believe.

I am not a control freak, but I feel your pain there. With the power struggles of Sweetness trying to control you, going back to PD, unless 2 people are engaged, there is no power struggle. Disengage yourself. When Sweetness is being unreasonable, you could tell her that it is not ok to tell mommy to … and that when she can … then you will acknowledge her again (or something to that effect). Jane Nelsen has great stuff on this.

Perhaps sometimes when Sweetness trying to control you, it’s just a coping mechanism for something else that she’s feeling out of control about (think, mistaken goal).

When I start feeling out of control and feeling the need to control things around me, the first thing I ask myself is, “what am I afraid of?” Need to control always comes down to fear (as I’m sure you know). When Sweetness is in full blown control freak mode, can you ask her what she’s afraid of? Get to the nut of the issue?
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Heligirl June 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Susan, excellent points, as always. Thanks. Yes, there is most likely an element of fear, but after analyzing this backwards and forwards most days I think a lot of it is really a toddler exploring independence. I love your disengage idea. I’m going to give that a whirl. 🙂

Heather June 24, 2010 at 10:44 am

I have an almost three year old control freak. But he gets that from his dad – Honestly! In fact now that I sit here and ponder it I realize – He is his Dad!
Right down to not being able to sleep the other day because we had left his trike in the yard and not in its proper place in the garage.
ARGH. Good think I love his dad.

(Nice to meet you. This is my first time stopping by.)

Heligirl June 24, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Welcome! Pleasure to meet you too. I’m going to check out your view from the shoe. Hang in there with Little Daddy. That’s hilarious about the bike. This really is a phase, isn’t it? 🙂

Stacie June 24, 2010 at 10:52 am

Ohmygosh, I think just about every mom can relate to this! How comforting to know that we all experience this, lol. As for me, it’s my 7 year-old son’s inability to let an argument go that reminds me the most of myself. When he gets into trouble, he won’t let it go! Just keeps trying to explain…and explain and explain and explain…why he did what he did. Then, when he serves his time-out, or whatever the occasion calls for…he starts apologizing…and apologizing and apologizing. It drives me insane, and it’s just like me. I always feel so badly for upsetting someone, that I keep trying to explain my way of thinking and then apologize 20 some-odd times, hoping they will forgive me. I just hate disappointing people, and he is the same way. I have learned from him now, how very annoying (and unnecessary!) it truly is!

Heligirl June 24, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Wow Stacie, what a great example. I wonder some days if having kids isn’t just a way for us to have a second chance to “work on our own stuff,” as that wise woman once told me. They’re amazing little mirrors, and each one shows you something different. Thanks for sharing that. I love that we’re all not alone with these experiences. And you’ve reminded me it doesn’t end when they’re over the terrible twos. Oh man…

Kristen Truong June 24, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Great post. Don’t you love struggling with your kid, and then realizing that it’s like struggling with your own demons? I feel the same way about my own daughter.

Heligirl June 24, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I love how you put that. Perfect!

Natalie June 24, 2010 at 12:18 pm

I can totally relate to this post with my almost 3 year old son. I didn’t realize how similar some of his bad traits were exactly the same ones I have. I need to work on mine so that we can break his early!
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Heligirl June 24, 2010 at 3:03 pm

That’s exactly what I keep telling myself – work on me to work on her. It’s sooooooooooooo hard!

Cheryl June 24, 2010 at 12:21 pm

I realized as an adult the reason I didn’t get along so well with my father was because we were very much alike. Now I see a lot of my traits in my daughter, but i hope we’ll always close. Even though she drives me crazy!
Cheryl recently posted: She is Me

Heligirl June 24, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Me too, but it’s my mom I struggle to get along with most of the time. I want so bad to always be deeply close to my daughter. I can only hope these trials will only make us stronger, not drive us apart. 🙂

Florida Girl Meets the Midwest June 24, 2010 at 3:14 pm

This is a fantastic post.

Love this: “what bothers you the most about the people that irritate you is the fact that they have the traits you most dislike about yourself.” This got me thinking about a few things.

Stopping by from Mama Kat’s.

Twitter: Heligirl
June 25, 2010 at 7:08 am

Yup, there are several one liners that lady taught me that were very hard to swallow, but I realize were very true. As soon as I embraced them and really started thinking about it, life got just a little easier. Then I had kids. LOL!
Heligirl recently posted: The Control Freak

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip June 25, 2010 at 4:11 am

LOVED this post. I have a little toddler tyrant too. But I am 100% with you when you say that they are teaching us just as much or more than we are teaching them. Loving your blog! So happy we were introduced at Prom MomSexy.

Twitter: Heligirl
June 25, 2010 at 7:09 am

He, he, thanks so much!! Great getting to know you too!
Heligirl recently posted: The Control Freak

Raechelle June 25, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Oh, I know I’m a control freak and I’ll tell you all about it. Susan’s comment struck a chord with me, though – When I start feeling out of control and feeling the need to control things around me, the first thing I ask myself is, “what am I afraid of?” Huh. I never wondered what I’m afraid of. Why am I afraid to let the house get messy? For fear that others will judge me if they saw it in that state? Am I just insecure? It’s all very deep.

The big problem I’m having is that I am such a control freak, I am failing to teach my 12 year old daughter and 16 year old son how to do things (“God help you if you just can’t do it my way”). I don’t have the patience to “teach” them how to clean a bathroom or cook. It’s just quicker and easier if I do it myself, that way it will be done to my standards (which are unrealistically high) the first time and I won’t have to go behind them and “fix” it.

I am well aware that this is horrible parenting – I’ve only been at this for 2 years. Just know that I’m working on it 😉

Stephanie June 25, 2010 at 6:00 pm

I am so glad to hear that it is not just my 2 1/2 year old. Her fierce independence has lead to so many comments about her resemblance to me that I was starting to think I had already messed my kid up and she wasn’t even 3 yet!

Neena July 1, 2010 at 4:46 am

My oldest was just like this (and still is). And I must admit that most of my life I have enjoyed being the one who controls. But now as the kids get older I let go of a lot more. And – you know what – I am much happier.

I hope that I can pass that lesson along to the kids as well.
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Life with Kaishon July 1, 2010 at 6:21 am

So well said! : ) I have power struggles with my kid all the time. He is EXACTLY like me. Darn it.
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LizB July 3, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Oh, like, Deja Vu!!!!!! You are so right on! I still learn about my mistakes from my 18 year-old-I’m-an-adult-now-and-you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do!
It’s great that you are looking for the balance, NOW, so that you can continue to work on it for the next 16 years.

Thanks for sharing. It was sort of like looking in the mirror for me!

Great post!

LeeAnn July 9, 2010 at 8:24 am

My daughter is not necessarily a control freak (yet, at least), but she is very impatient and emotional, just like me. I find myself constantly trying to teach her how to be patient, but I guess I don’t really know how to do that myself. Maybe we both have something to learn.

Great post!
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