Sunday, December 22, 2013

It's Not Always Perfect

I wrestled my 8 year old into her clothes today, and carried her kicking and crying into a public building.  
That's right.  It's not always perfect.  Our ideals don't always match reality.  
So was it a colossal parenting failure or just one of those unavoidable things?  Well, that's what I'm working on figuring out. 
I always try to work with the kids, finding solutions when there are conflicts, taking their needs/wants into consideration. When we need go somewhere, if one kid wants to stay home, we try to find a way to make that happen- can we do it another day, one parent stay home, etc? If not, I try to make it as easy as possible to leave- quick trip, maybe stop for icecream or something else fun on the way home, bring activities to do, etc. and we find a way to make it work for everyone.

A few days ago, however, my husband and I needed to go somewhere. There was no way to change the day, and both of us needed to be there together. I gave E a heads up the day before that we would need to go today, after she said that she wanted to stay home all day because she hasn't been feeling well. I explained that I was sorry, that we had to do this one thing, that there was not a way to change it. I said that we would not go to the library, even though her sisters wanted to, so that the only thing she would need to leave the house for was this one thing.  I offered to do whatever I could to make it easier. She refused to get dressed or brush her hair.  I said she could put her hair in a pony tail and hat instead, but she didn't like that.  If it was something like the grocery store, I would have let her go in pjs and with messy hair if that had made it easier, but it was important to look presentable at this location.

In the end, I ended up wrestling her into her clothes and into the car. After waiting for about half an hour in the car for her to calm down so we could go into the building, I carried her inside kicking and crying. I hate that I physically made her do that, but on further reflection, I'm still not sure what we could have done differently. Maybe threats or bribes instead of physically dressing her, but that still would have gone against everything we do and believe in.

While waiting in the car, I offered to take them all to get an ice cream to make the trip easier on everyone, but she didn't want to do that because she just wanted to be HOME. Of course, then her sisters wanted to get ice cream, so we did go do that afterwards. She decided she wanted a hamburger on the way through the drive through, so we got her one.  
When she calmed down at home, we did lots of snuggling and a bit of trying to figure out why she's been feeling awful for days and how to help. She apologized to dh unprompted for kicking him. 
So was it a colossal parenting failure or just one of those unavoidable things?
 Well, it definitely went against all of my ideals.  But was it unavoidable?  Usually when I mess up I can do a post game play review and see where I could improve next time.  This time?  When I told my mom what happened, she did say that I could have dropped E off at her house.  E could have just snuggled on my mom's couch, and she wouldn't have had to get dressed.  That might have worked, but never crossed my mind.    
I know one thing for sure.  There was no punishing or shaming for the way she acted.  Whether I figure out what we could have done differently next time or not, I'm not blaming her for having needs that didn't conveniently fit into our day's schedule and for possessing only immature ways of expressing them.  I know that for days she was feeling awful, overwhelmed, and needed to be home to recover.  I wish I could have provided that. 
So, I'm being honest here, because I hate blogs that make it all look picture perfect all the time.  It's not.  Life's messy.  We're all imperfect, so there's no sense in wallowing in guilt and anxiety when we did our best, but let's not settle either.  Keep learning more, doing better, being better.  Our kids are worth it.

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