I bond with the moms I can share the hard times with. I feel out of place when I'm at the play-ground and all the moms there seem so happy, leaving me with a "have a good rest of the day now" as they cheerfully gather their kids to go home. Lilly's reached the terrible twos with its awful temper tantrums, and any outing involves the risk of a body flung to the ground, "no!" She doesn't want to go. Or she insists we go.
Returning to the yoga mat and heart-to-heart conversation with good friends help me regain perspective and some inner calm as I set and maintain the boundaries, over and over and over again. and again. Hold the space for her while she throws herself on the floor, screaming, throwing, kicking. Reminding myself of Catherine Newman's hilarious portrayal of parenting a two-year old in Waiting for Birdy, or Thelma Harms's wise "12 Building Blocks of Discipline" which emphasize realistic expectations from toddlers, that we don't overreact, and that we be patient with our children and ourselves. That we express love and catch our children "being good" as much as we correct. Other building blocks include setting up a safe environment and sensible limits, that we strive to perform predictable behavior and communicate clearly with our body, intonation and words.
But it's hard. It's hard at the house, it's hard at the mall, it's hard at the play-ground, it's just plain hard everywhere.
So I return to good friends and talking with them is a life saver. First we bitch, then we ask each other, what helps you get through it? What helps make the day better? We share strategies that help us, from balling with our babies snuggled close up in our lap, or modeling deep breathing. Leaving the house for an activity, or returning to the house for calm. A quiet time together before dinner preparations to make the witching hour go by more smoothly. Or a cocktail hour when partner returns to house, making dinner while he or she plays with the child(ren), snacking, maybe even chatting a little.
These conversations are like therapy and life-coaching in one to me. I return to mothering with a sense of integrity, strength, and resourcefulness with more trust in my own instincts and my approach to parenting.
What helps you?