Sometimes I do ok. Sometimes I don’t.

by Alicia on April 4, 2013

Isabella and I have gotten stuck in a wee little mother-daughter rut lately and I was afeared.

You see, I already had prepared myself for this butting of heads thing with my daughters because I did it with my own mother (sorry Mom!). But I really didn’t see it coming so soon. I thought I’d have years more to practice my patience, my tone, my resolve. But no. Isabella has other ideas. She’s a bit sassy (like her mother) and always appears to be right in her eyes (like her mother). She needs to develop her arguing skills, but she holds a hard line on her beliefs no matter the consequences. It’s a struggle, since I don’t want to squash any of these things as I’m 100% certain I want her to have them all at her disposal later in life (like her mother). Just maybe seven years old is a little too soon, mmmkay?

I’m going to tell you now, about a time I got it really wrong. I’m going to take the parenting expertise you’d normally come to expect from this blog (heh. hahahahaha!) and bring it down a few notches.

There has been a little over a week of the same trend at my house. Bella wakes up in the morning and is somewhat less of a morning person, which I can appreciate wholeheartedly. She will perk up somewhere after getting dressed and is usually much more her chipper self. Along with this chipperness comes a brand new cockiness as well. That part? Is the part I struggle with. Confidence is fine, I encourage confidence all the time. But where is the line between that and just plain rudeness and how do I teach it? The attitude starts with her eyes getting really wide and her chin tilting down, you know the look I’m talking about. Picture yourself about to tell someone off…there it is! See what you just did there with your face? Yep. From a seven year old. Then she drops a shoulder & raises a finger and dispenses with the one single word which, these days, makes my hair stand on end and boils my blood. The word? One syllable. “But

And lately there is always a but. Some way we’re letting her down, not listening to her, not being truthful with her, not giving her the benefit of the doubt, not paying attention. That last one is the kicker. For you see, in this story, that’s where I got it wrong. If you’re wondering why there wasn’t an Easter post this year, it’s because Easter was a certain disaster this year in House Higgy. I won’t go into details (because one day I’d like to forget it all ever happened, to be honest), but suffice it to say every single Lady was sent back to her room for tears or back talk or fighting or otherwise being massively huge jerks. Aaaaaanyway, I digress. Back to how I failed at motherhood. The problem didn’t start at Easter, but it hit a low point on Easter Sunday morning and I snapped and broke into a thousand pieces in my head. During a discussion I was having with the older two girls about the reason we should be so thankful about getting gifts, about the definitions of words like grace and abundance, Isabella continued to argue with me about a purple hula hoop. She claimed I had given the purple one to her specifically and Annika had taken it. She even went so far as to claim I had in fact picked it up and handed it to her. Which I had not. She flat out lied to my face and had no intention of taking it back. I gave her one last chance to recant her statement and when she didn’t I sent her to her room in a flash of tears from her and yelling from both of us. I had a hard time even looking at Bella for the next few hours after she was out of confinement, I was so ticked at her. I didn’t want to rage, I just wanted her out of my face. I’m like most moms on holidays: you want it to be 100% sunshine and fairy tales, you work hard to make it special and perfect and memory-building. We did not have one of those Easters this year. Instead I spent the majority of the day annoyed with my seven year old daughter for being such a damn drama queen. Not proud of that, but we are in a comforting space of honesty here at Life With Ladies and that’s just how it goes sometimes. The day went on and redeemed itself when my family came over for dinner. Everyone had a great time, many laughs were had &  the girls all went to bed happy. Well, save for one: Me.

I was super mad at myself. Feeling ultimate guilt & wanting to rewind the day…the week, if I’m honest, and start over. What in the hell was wrong? Why were Isabella & I at such an impasse? I struggled so very much even into the next day wondering what had tripped a switch and how did I go about resetting? I had lost patience with her. I had lost a line of communication, I wondered who closed it- was it me or her? I pre-empted every complaint of hers, I knew it was coming and I was already over it. I wasn’t listening, basically. That’s tough to admit…in public and to myself. I don’t claim that it’s because I have three kids, and a job and a yadda, yadda, yadda. No, it’s a personal fault. It happened because I let it. Period.

So, I went with my question straight to the source: I talked to Isabella.

She agreed with me that she & I weren’t getting along very well, and when I asked her what she thought was missing she answered with the kind of honesty that punches you in the gut: “I think…I think I just need more attention, Mom.” Well.

If that doesn’t sting you? You are probably dead. Go check your pulse.

I gathered myself just enough to tell her I was very sorry. That I didn’t notice and that was wrong of me. I promised her I would do better. Then I asked for her help. I asked her what she maybe needed to make sure I held up my end of the bargain. We discussed many options and finally decided on letting her stay up a half hour later than her sisters.

It’s been three days and I must say: it’s working. She feels slightly more validated, I feel slightly less attacked and, in a twist no one saw coming, bedtime with the younger two has become slightly easier. It’s still very much a work in progress, we’re ironing out a lot of things. But I feel better about where we find ourselves and that’s all that really matters.

 

 She slipped this note under my door later that night.

And then I slipped this one under hers.

I think we’ll be ok.

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