Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Learning Moments

I thought I might intersperse my typical "infertilty sucks" posts with a few post about some mom stories. I will always start the title with "Learning Moments" so that anyone who doesn't want to read them can skip that post. I thought about calling them "Bad Mother Moments" which might be more accurate, but perhaps that is a bit too strong or at least makes it sound like I am looking for "your doing fine!" comments.

The first installment is . . . . Learning Moments: Setting Boundaries.

I have discovered that I am really bad at setting boundaries. Despite my disgust at seeing fertiles not control their kids or answering their requests with, in essence, "No. No. No. Yes.", I have found that I really struggle with this.

The other day, we were playing chase in a local Sho.pko. It was during the day, the store was practically empty, and I kept an eye out for other shoppers. LB isn't exactly a swift walker so it was pretty easy to contain our play. First I would chase her and then I would say, "You can't catch me!" and she will giggle and try to catch me as I would hide around the next corner.

LB positively LOVES this. She loves to walk just because she can and given our small house a store offers things she can't get either inside (because of size) or outside (lacking in obstacles and/or not lacking in cars).

Alas, all good things must come to an end. I don't want to be too obnoxious (lest there be some other infertiles in the store) so after a few minutes, I grabbed a cart and put LB in it.

LB instantly started crying like her world was ending. I suppose to her, it was. It was heartbreaking. Inside my head was the following conversation:

Heart: Oh, let her play!

Mind: We have shopping to do.

Heart: She was having so much fun. WE were having so much fun. Just this once.

Mind: Oh, ok.

Mind: No, wait! We already said "no". The time to keep playing is past.

Heart: Can't you hear her crying? Do you not see how sad she is? (Heart then tries to control arms and help LB back out of the cart.)

Mind: Must. Be. Strong. It is never going to be easier than this to teach LB that I am in charge. It is ok to put my needs first in this case. In the end, this will be good for both of us.

I am happy to report that LB did not get to run amok again. Eventually, I broke down and took her out of the cart and held her, but did not let her back down to walk around. Perhaps I shouldn't even have held her, but I reasoned it was a fair compromise given that she was overly tired as well as teething.

I honestly had no idea this would be hard for me. I am going to keep reminding myself to be strong (although not authoritarian, I hope) and to keep practicing. I don't want to become some 8 year old's(or God forbid, a teenager's!) personal servant.

If you have kids, did you struggle with this? How have you found a way to balance yours and your child's needs/wants? If you hope to have kids, how do you see yourself setting boundaries and sticking to them?


Lavender Luz said...

I wish I had something to add to what you've already said, but I think you are firmly on the right track. It's a constant compromise between head and heart, for sure!

We subscribe to the Love & Logic philosophy, which works pretty well for us (and it's not too early to start). One of the fundamentals is that you focus on what YOU will do. "I am going to carry you now." "My car is leaving in 5 minutes." "I will be happy to serve dessert to children who eat a healthy meal."

Sounds like you're a fun mom with boundaries. The best combination.

Ryan's Mommy said...

Mom of four-year-old here. I have a very hard time with the crying. Sometimes the choice is clear, like if it's a safety issue, and no really means NO, crying be damned. Other times, well ... I have that same thought process that you do.

I try not to cave in, because I don't want to teach him that tantrums work. But when I do cave, I at least try to make it into a learning experience by saying something like, "if you can stop crying/whining/whatever, and ask me nicely, I will let you have/do ____." Then he'll stop crying, say please, and I'll let him have what he wants. Everyone's happy.

I figure you have to pick your battles, and if I don't want to listen to the crying go on for another 30 minutes, a compromise may be in order. Sometimes.

Jill said...

I try to make sure I'm saying no to things I really want/need to say no to. And then on the flip side, I try to never give him an option I don't want him to have.

So, for instance, I never ever let him run around the grocery store. He always rides in the cart. So he never asks to walk in the grocery store since he doesn't know it's an option.

On things like you're describing, I would prepare him for something ending. It's no different than leaving the park or some other fun thing. I'd say "2 more minutes" or something - they don't know time, so just start giving warnings that this part is almost over, and explain what you're going to do next. Even though she might not understand it yet, it's good to start explaining what's coming up next I think. So something like "This is really fun to run around, but we need to also do some shopping. Let's play for 2 more minutes, and then we'll get in the cart and I'll give you your teddy bear and we can do the shopping." Then in a little bit say "OK, one more minute and then we'll get in the cart" and then do it. And stick to it. And when she cries it's ok to say "I know you were having fun and so was I... but we've got work to do now, and if we go really fast, we can be done and then we can do something else really fun"..

It doesn't mean there won't be any crying. But at some point she'll think you're less arbitrary about cutting out her fun.

Anonymous said...

I have a 2 year old and I struggle with this all the time. Like you, I did not expect it to be hard to enforce boundaries, or sticking to a No, but I find that there are times when saying no was not over a big issue. Like you said, you need to shop, but it wouldn't really hurt to play a little more, but once you say no, you have to stick with it and you find yourself either giving in, or enforcing a no that is not really a battle worth fighting. Does that make sense. Now that I'm trying to come up with an example of when this has happened to me I can't. Oh well. But it does.
Good luck. And, I think you came up with a good compromise to hold her.
Melissa in Durham

niobe said...

I think it'll likely get easier with practice. It certainly did for me. And believe me I had plenty of practice.

When my son was about 18 months old, he would regularly have five or six tantrums. Every day. And that's just counting the ones that happened before breakfast.

I soon learned that the only way I was going to maintain my sanity was to set limits and stick to them. And -- eventually -- it worked.

Sunny said...

Ugh, the boundaries are so difficult. When my parents visit, my dad always says warningly, "You have to be tough with him. He needs to know who is the boss in the family." But I am a bit more of a softie. Keeping those boundaries are hard in public situations, or when I'm just too exhausted to stand my ground. Hopefully I'm not ruining him. :/

Caro said...

I struggle with this too. T has starting wailing "no, no no, oh dear" and crying like his heart is breaking when he doesn't want to do something. This includes sitting in his high chair at meal times and going to bed. I'm sure he is swearing at us in baby talk too. Sometimes I give in and mostly I try not to.