Try Again Tomorrow

I have an amazingly strong-willed, passionate, and extremely intelligent child. 

He is my dream child because I want him to grow up to be a force to reckoned with, to pursue his passions, to stand-up for what is right and never just follow along with the herd. I know that he will be an amazing man because he is already an incredible child. He blows me away with everything that he knows, how he is so far above his developmental milestones, and how unbelievably aware and accomplished he is. But with his strong-willed personality comes extreme stubbornness, inherited from mommy and daddy.

Now, there is normal toddler stubbornness and then there is the, “I know exactly what I want because I’m ridiculously smart and I’m going to dig my heels in till you comply with my demands,” kind of stubbornness. The first is very manageable and can be easily overcome with a small distraction. The second leads to screaming and crying and all-around inconsolable-ness. Yes, I made up a word, but parents know what I mean.

A stubborn-fit can last for hours. It will start with a small disturbance such as he needs a diaper change when he would rather be playing and will quickly spiral out of control as more and more things don’t go his way. In these times, I’m either super mom–able to handle whatever comes my way–or I fall short of the parent I want to be.

Most times, I’m good to go. I hold his hand, rub his back, give him hugs, leave him be when he is asking not to be touched, and discuss his distresses calmly and thoroughly. I make sure that we get through this particular crisis in the best manner possible. But, on occasion when I’m in a hurry or I have a blinding headache, I crack under the pressure. I get grouchy and I rush him to feel better, which is not fair because no one can rush me to feel better when I’m upset, so how can I ask it of my child?

In these moments, I’m so frustrated that I can’t step back from all the chaos to cool down, but later that day, I kick myself for not practicing my best attachment parenting. For not treating my son like a tiny adult with human feelings. For holding him to an impossible standard just because I was ill-equipped to deal with his big emotions. I berate myself because I know I can do better. And when I’m done feeling sorry for myself or feeling the guilt that we parents carry more often than we should, I forgive myself, and I decide to try again tomorrow.

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