One of my GD books (Gentle Discipline) talks about how children have “cups” that need filling regularly. It’s a good analogy to use sometimes. It applies to my latest dealings with DD.
I’d been noticing a couple of things lately. DD was asking me several times a day “Mama, shall you play with me?” and I was mostly saying “I can’t right now, DD. I have to do X”. It was bugging me, making me feel guilty. But at the same time, it was important to me that the place be tidy and things get done like laundry, dishes, etc. It’s not easy these days with my busy schedule.
The other thing I’d noticed, is that lately DD was really being a pain in the neck. Every time I sat on the sofa to nurse DS, she’d be there poking me, or jumping on my back, or trying to head-butt him. I’d been hurt by her with increasing frequency; not because she was trying to hurt me, but she was doing things that hurt – pulling on me, jumping on me, etc. It was getting to the point where I was really resenting her, and there’s nothing like feeling that way to think you are the worst mother on the planet.
Well, I went to my knitting group the other night (thank god for those women!!) and just talking about how much our 3 year olds can bug us was so wonderful. I realized that the two things above were related. DD was wanting time with me, she needed her cup to be filled, and I was always blowing her off. Bugging me was her way of interacting with me. And I know from my Playful Parenting book how important physical play is to children as a means of connecting. As one mama said “when DD starts bugging me, poking me, etc. I know she wants to wrestle”. Just hearing the mamas talking was inspirational, gave me a refreshed view on things. I vowed to do better.
And I have. The last few days, when DD asks to play, I make a point of making it happen. Even if that means putting down what I’m doing for a few minutes. Because ultimately, I get that time back later. That’s a tough lesson to remember, but it’s true. The house has been in great shape the last few days.
Also, when she starts getting physical and annoying, it’s time for me to get physical in play. I really don’t like that sort of play. It is absolutely the last thing I feel like doing. But I made myself do it. I took a deep breath, and made up the “kissy monster” and started attacking her with kisses. The laughter was really healing for me. I couldn’t help but start laughing myself, actually. And after a few minutes, it was kind of fun for me, too. And I wasn’t getting hurt. Well, DD loved it and we did it alot the first few times. She’s asked for it again, since. “Mama, shall you be the kissy monster?”.
And honestly, things have been a lot better lately. I’m feeling more “in love” with her. My perspective is shifting back to a partnership, rather than the adversarial viewpoint I’d been developing. It’s amazing how that can sneak up on you, and before you know it, it’s “you vs. them”.
So that’s my success story for today.