Monday, January 21, 2008

Surrender to The Super Mom

First of all... thank you so much for the overwhelming response to Friday's post! I am touched, I am excited, I am definitely writing the book. I am glad to know I will have so many of you here with me as I go through the process. So, thank you, thank you, thank you... you are so very appreciated around here.

And now, on to today's post title. I give up! I surrender! Super Mom, I am not. What I am is so exhausted that my eyes keep going crossed. Here is the deal... for several weeks now Ron and I have been at our wits end in the parenting department. Jacob is mouthy and disrespectful (ex: yesterday he said to me "Just because we like Dad better then you, Mom, doesn't mean you have to be a jerk all the time"). Andrew was diagnosed with early onset childhood bi-polar earlier this summer and these past few weeks we have dealt with countless major balling meltdowns as we experiment trying to find what treatment will work best for him. And Miss. Lauren, well, she is just plain spoiled rotten and shrieks at the top of her lungs when ever anyone sits in her spot when she wants to watch cartoons.

Seems like no matter what we do, it doesn't work. We give them what they want, they get worse. We take things away, things get worse. We have just been beside ourselves with what to do. I have even read parenting books people, I am feeling that pathetic as a parent. Some of these things I think we bring on ourselves. All to often, to get a moments peace, we let the boys numb themselves with PS2. Or we watch movies when we should be sitting at the kitchen table playing games together. But even so, they are things we have really worked on. I can't tell you how many times Ron and I have said "who wants to play a game of Crazy 8s?" Truly, it is countless times.

I feel like I am losing the boys. The Jacob I knew, who could spend hours writing his own graphic novels (really he would staple scrap paper, illustrate a cover, write a story, then go outside and act it out), who was so eager to get the best grades he could, who was absolutely magical, has been warped into a snicky, snotty pre-teen who thinks he can call his buddy on the phone at 8pm to ask if he thinks his "girlfriend" is cheating on him. Come on now, fictitious cheating girlfriend talk in 5th grade just to have something to talk about? Is this really who my child is?

Ron is about ready to pull a Dr.Phil and strip the kids' room of everything but their mattresses and a blanket. If they really think everything is so much better every where else... he'll show them just how much they take for granted. I, being the weaker, couldn't bring myself to do it. But today, we did "take things back to the table", so to speak. Today was a NO SCHOOL day. I sat the kids down right after breakfast and had a serious talk. I told them how much it hurts me to see what they are becoming. And how they aren't the kids I knew when they were 4 or 5. So rather then constantly fighting over who has what, who's turn it is to do what, when they cane go here or there... we are working on EARNING the things they want. And we are all going to work on treating each other better.

I got all Super Nanny and actually made charts (my Mom's suggestion, THANKS MOM). It has simple responsibilities that the boys are expected to do daily (ex: brush teeth, make beds, load dishwasher). If they do them respectfully and without arguments, then they can earn PS2 time (albeit limited!), time to talk on the phone, or go to a friend's house. If we don't see changes in attitude and how we treat each other... we are getting serious and Jacob will be taken out of football (I still have to come up with the serious consequence for Andrew).

After the talk, we set out on a Job-Jar-Day. I have told you about these before. We had one THIS DAY. The four of us, who were then joined by my Mom: making it 5, worked together getting things straitened up around the house. Then, as a reward, they got to pick a movie at Blockbuster. We did some grocery shopping and I didn't want to pull my hair out while pushing the cart. It was surprisingly pleasant actually. Then back home we watched our movie together, then made a batch of cookies. All in all it turned out to be one of the best days we have had in a while.

Here is hoping it will last for more then just today.


ellen said...

Consistency is the key. If you lay down a "law," they need to know you mean business and won't cave.
My dad used to say that breaking a bad habit takes 3 days.
The early bipolar diagnosis worries me a bit as it can only be made (to my knowledge) via interview. There's no lab test that makes the call.
My son's best friend was diagnosed with a serious mental illness in college. Turns out it was just a bad year - he's a very successful lawyer now.
Once a kid is labled, it can color the rest of his/her life.
Keep on keepin' on, chica.

Kerry said...

Thanks for your input Ellen.

Andrew and the bi-polar diagnosis, it is something I haven't shared here on the blog really. Telling Andrew's life story would take a whole blog in itself. But, know that it isn't a diagnosis that has been rushed into. We have spent YEARS working with doctors trying to figure out what is going on with Andrew and how we can best help him. We are learning that what we are doing right now, isn't working. We'll get things figured out though.

Thanks again!
And this morning went GREAT!!

Leslie G. said...

God Bless you! I know with having a full-time job and an almost 3 year old that parenting is the HARDEST job I have ever had. I love it, but nothing has ever made me cry more than being a parent. As a nurse and a mother my heart goes out to you with the medical issues you have and are facing. You and your husband are doing the best you can, that is all anyone could ask. I too have read a library full of parenting books, and have taken great advice from each of them. There is not one way better than the other. I love your Job-Jar-Day idea! Please keep your chin up. Do not be too hard on yourself or your loved ones! The one rule that I chant in my head as a parent, I actually learned as a nurse, "Firm, Fair and Consistent". It goes through my head 20 times a day. I am not saying it will work for everyone, but I thought I would let you know what works for me! Please Take care!

Leslie said...

Gosh, Kerry, I feel your pain. I truly do. It's so very hard raising "good kids" these days. There are way too many distractions, and "the world" can be such a "bad" place with way too much violence on tv, video games, on the streets. UGH!

I still remember the day I took all of my daughter's toys and "threw them away." I put them all in huge black trash bags, while she watched and cried, and hid them. She was younger than your son so it was easier. All she had was her furniture and her clothes. I felt so bad but it worked. For a while.

Ellen is right. Consistency. It can be hard but you'll feel better and less like pulling your hair out.

I'll think of you as you work with your son. My daughter, at almost 22, has major anxiety and panic issues and I've finally got her back home and we're working together to get on track. It can be done, my friend.