Sometimes it would be easier to live in ignorance – to be oblivious. Much easier than dealing with reality, especially when the reality is that you have made some serious mistakes as a parent. Before I was a parent, I felt certain that I would be no-nonsense. I would be tough. I had a clear vision of what was right and wrong; what was acceptable and not acceptable. With clarity like that, it should be easy to be consistent, right? Well it’s not. Before I was a parent, I knew things like “no” would mean no, period. That you don’t coddle, that you don’t give in. That you see right through their manipulation and just don’t fall for it. Respect would be demanded, and talking back would not be tolerated. But wouldn’t you know that I have not been able to follow my own sound advice. What I didn’t count on was the endurance needed to be a good parent who stays consistent all the time. The bottom line is you just get tired. It’s flat out exhausting. I want to compare it to a marathon vs. a sprint, but it’s beyond that. It’s like you’re running a marathon, but in the middle you have to start sprinting. And the marathon takes you 18+ years to complete and the sprints happen multiple times a day. See, kids don’t listen the first time. They don’t ask you just one question. They don’t make it easy. There is a constant power struggle going on and they refuse to go down without a fight. They prey on your weaknesses and exploit your exhaustion. So when I tell my stories of my misbehaving son to my friends, about how he didn’t listen, he talked back and he did something extravagantly wrong, and they ask, “so what’d you do?” I feel like my answers are inadequate. Because if my pre-mom self had listened in on the conversation, pre-mom me would have thought, well if that was my son, he wouldn’t have done that! But the part of the story that is missing is all that occurred in the days/hours/minutes leading up to the episode that left me beaten down and ill-equipped to handle my son.
So my reality is that Brogan is a pretty consistent misbehaver. And while I think part of it is his extremely active, attention-seeking, daredevil personality, I think part of it is my fault too. I’ve taken my head out of the sand and see the situation for what it is. We knew pretty early on that he was going to be an envelope-pusher, but it is only more recently that I’ve taken personal responsibility for the extent to which his defiance has gone. Don’t get me wrong, I do punish, and frequently, but the part that I am failing miserably at is consistency. And there are always excuses about why I can’t be consistent (sometimes they are legitimate and sometimes they are not), but the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter. Brogan has realized that it takes a lot to really set me off, so he has numerous opportunities to keep on misbehaving before I’m actually going to do something about it. So of course, he uses them all. And then I finally put my foot down, and it’s a desperate pleading of “one more chance, mommy, one more chance!” And the odds are 50/50 that I’ll give it to him. I know, I know. What I’ve found is for someone who is a “feeler” (like me), it’s really hard to take your emotions out of the decision making when it comes to punishments. My logical brain has it all figured out, but then my emotional self empathizes with him. But not always (remember, I’m inconsistent). Sometimes, when I’ve really had it, he could cry and call my name and apologize and ask for another chance and act all charming, but I will not fall for it. Period, the end. I just wish I could do that every time. But I’m trying. I’m hoping that my newfound enlightenment will help.
So yes, ignorance is bliss. But when you’ve returned from la-la land and realize that it’s time to take responsibility and make some tough changes, it’s a hard pill to swallow. I am optimistic because that’s just who I am, but I know it’s going to really suck getting back on track. But here we go.