I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I need to RTFM

(RTFM = Read The Fucking Manual) A common suggestion given to people who cannot figure out how to get things to work.

Lately my kiddos have been getting into all kinds of scrapes. In some cases, it's just their usual kid-ness which rears it's ugly head. In other cases, it speaks of something more serious going on. Problem is, I have no idea - a) what the problem is (or more accurately, the cause) and b) I'm not entirely sure what to do about it. This is where parenting basically smacks me upside the head and reminds me that basically, I'm clueless.

My friends with teenagers assure me that it's only going to get worse from here - that I will more and more doubt my own parenting abilities, and that I will wonder what planet these alien children came from. This isn't heartening news. In recent weeks I've really become filled with self-doubt about my parenting ... mostly because I feel DH and I love, adore and care for these kids as much as we possibly can ... and yet still at least one of them just isn't the person I would hope they would be. I won't go into detail here, but suffice it to say there have been rather more phone calls from school, rather more tears, and rather more of the kinds of things parents don't want to hear about.

The sad thing is, I'm worried for my child... and yet I find myself focussing on ME rather than on THEM. I spend hours wondering what ELSE I could have done for them, what MORE I might have done, what promises did I fail to keep, what promises did I fail to make, what of ANYTHING might I have done to head this situation off at the pass. The reality of it is, I don't think there is actually anything... but that doesn't stop me from wondering, doubting, and being consumed with guilt. Being a proactive sort of person, I've taken a lot of steps to help this child of mine - from visiting with the right professionals, to giving them more one-on-one time, to talking with them and so on. And what then? What if none of these measures work? Suppose my child returns to school in Autumn and the same things happen again? Will I have utterly failed my child completely?

As parents, how do we keep from feeling totally helpless? I look around at the people I know and I see the ones who ignore their kids speech issues, physical issues, social issues, whatever issues...and previously I wondered how they can choose to not DO something about those situations. These days, I wonder if those same parents have not tried and then failed to resolve some of those issues. It's so easy to sit in judgement on someone else's child or parenting .. and so hard to know that you yourself are now a target for judgement.

Children don't come with manuals, but several times throughout their lives I've found myself wishing they did - because then, when I'm at my lower moments of wondering where the hell I went wrong - I could just RTFM and fix it up. Children not coming with said manuals is a serious design flaw.


mommycares said...

Good one on emzeegee and the hungry three - it helps a lot!

We clearly share similar parenting experiences and views.
I've been reading one that I'm hooked on - http://todayscliche.com/.
I have a feeling you'd get a lot out of it.

Incredible job on your blog; keep it up.


C said...

I understand your feelings Em.

My Grandmother always said "Small Children, small problems; Big children, big problems". She meant that it was easier to deal with the problems of little kids, but as they get older, the problems get more complex in nature.

A few years ago, I had contact, over about a year and a half, with a family of three kids that were being neglected. The kids (2 preschoolers and a Prep/grade 1) lived in close proximity and were coming to me regularly to be fed or to get attention/other needs met. They spent all day hanging on our fence, wanting to spend time with our family. I did everything I could, (the appropriate authorities were already involved with the family) but like many families of this kind, they eventually moved on.

Proximity to this kind of neglect threw into stark relief the benefits of a loving home, and really stopped me obsessing about the little things that us modern parents can worry about (and I am not talking about your situation being a little thing). It made me a firm believer in the idea that if you have a loving, safe environment, and the children know how important they are to you, then everything will work out in the end.

That being said, I understand that it is not the end you are worrying about - but the now.

I don’t have any answers for you, and as you know, my eldest is about the same age, and I am starting to deal with issues for which I have no clear idea of the best way to handle them.

Partly I imagine that for both of us, we just have to “hold the course”. Some of these more complex issues take longer to “steer”. Perhaps we are doing all the right things, but we need to let the child’s growing maturity kick in over time. Perhaps they are making the mistakes that have to be made, so that they learn not to make them as an adult. (It really depends on what the actual problem is – what I have said could be “all kinds of wrong”).

The other thing to remember is that no matter what age a person is, we cannot stop them from making their own mistakes. Childhood is a time to make mistakes, and learn from them. Perhaps this is something that had to happen, and has a whole lot more to do with the child’s personality. Schools are about conformity, and not all children wear that yoke well. Of course we all have to learn to conform to some extent – life is like that – but perhaps your child will struggle with it, and then go on to become a successful non-conformist in their adulthood.

I am sure you are a fabulous parent, but that doesn’t make it less painful.
Thinking of you……

M.B. said...

Hang in there Sweets. I have felt that way over and over. A diagnosis and getting the school aligned as well has helped greatly. I still catch myself from time to time thinking maybe I did or am doing something wrong. *sigh*

And no, if your child exhibits the same issues in the Autumn, you will not have "failed". Failure is not trying. Failure is, as my favorite quotes says, falling down and refusing to get up.

You my friend, are not a quitter. You are....brace yourself...human.

Holding your hand,

Anonymous said...

Wow Emzee, I read the hindsight post first, then this one. You have such beautiful friends - I know that we will all get through this raising kids thing with support like this.

Katrina said...

I always find my kids are abosultely wacked by the end of the school year. One year I allowed my daughter to just stay home several days becasue I was sick of the school calling with issues.