I feel like I am really failing at this mothering thing lately. For the past 3 1/2 years we have been sort of coasting along without a real plan and suddenly it is catching up with us. I have no idea what my goals are for raising my children, and I certainly haven't figured out how to parent consistently and well without goals. Really, I am not being hard on myself. I am basically lost at sea on this one.
Why is it so hard? Part of the reason is that I have an incredibly sensitive and emotionally overwhelmed first child. Calvin has the biggest, most compassionate heart of any kid I know. I hate answering his questions about bad things that happen in the world because I know it will leave him sad for the rest of the day. And any bad interaction we have affects him for a long time afterward. He doesn't just feel bad because he has disobeyed but he internalizes it. He suddenly is a bad person because he had to be disciplined. It crushes him and sends him into a storm of emotion that can takes hours to subside. Loving him well takes a lot of emotional energy, and I am finding it hard to come up with that these days. Yelling, spanking, threats of consequences, and shows of disappointment and frustration all lead to bad outcomes with him. But I find myself resorting to these when I lose the patience required to deal with each little incident.
I am not a patient person by nature, nor am I incredibly in touch with my emotions. Calvin's mind and heart are territory I am not familiar with. I don't want to squelch his compassion or sensitivity. I do want to help him learn to control his emotions and to deal with disappointment. We need to go back to the beginning and redefine how we interact, but I am not sure how to do it. In the meantime, poor Hobbes is getting less attention and direction than a two-year-old needs, and he is lashing out in frustration, mostly mimicking my yucky attitude.
I look around at how intentionally other mothers seem to be parenting their children, and I wonder where I have been. We don't have any consistent enforcement of good behavior or a well-thought-out way to deal with bad behavior. We don't have a good routine. I have no goals for what I need to be teaching my children or what responsibilities they need to start taking on. I can't even seem to teach Calvin to swim or Hobbes to use the potty, for crying out loud. I know I once wrote a post about mommy guilt and what a bad thing it is, but I don't think this is it. I honestly think I am lacking in some mothering gene that most other moms I know have. I am just not good at making this a priority or at being intentional about my parenting, and God is trying to get my attention.
What about the other parents our there reading my blog? How do you find time to make goals and decide on parenting priorities? How do you do more than just coast through all of your days hoping not to pull your hair out or permanently damage your child's emotional state? Or am I just surrounded by exceptional moms?
I am lost and in desperate need of a map. Help.