Throughout this parenting journey I’ve tried to be the model parent. I’ve done my best with no yelling and no spanking, but I’ve got to admit, there have been times when I’ve slipped up. I took solace in the fact that everyone makes mistakes and tried to set a good example by righting the wrong as soon as possible. I’ve never known a parent to go completely cold turkey on their old parenting style under as much stress as we’ve been under lately. Oz working all these closing shifts and being out with his aunt or running errands all the time, I barely see him for an hour a day while he’s awake. The rest of the time he’s napping, sleeping, at his aunt’s, working, or running errands. Days he doesn’t work I see him a bit more often, but it’s stressful. Plus we found out that Oz has to wait a month to get his interview at the job he wanted because the first time they failed to tell him he needed proof of education and now he’s got to wait for his aunt to retake her GED test. On top of that my phone is off because we can’t afford to buy a new card for it until Friday, so that means going a whole week without being able to have contact with the outside world beyond the internet…again. I’ve given up both my last two opportunities for social interaction in the past week. The first being the story hour because Oz let me oversleep, even though I specifically asked him to wake me up in time. The other was a knitting group. Oz failed to ask his aunt if she could watch the older kids so I wouldn’t have to walk them all down to the library or leave early due to Oz’s conflicting work schedules. I was feeling like things are looking up, but now I’m feeling more trapped and suffocated than ever. It’s been stressful.
Adding to the stress, the job front is frustrating. I’m at my breaking point. I need a phone. Bills need to be paid. I want to move out of this trailer into a place that’s more…well…tolerable. I’m tired of having the wall in Corde’s bedroom turn into a river whenever it rains. I’m tired of having a refrigerator that leaks. I’m tired of having every bug in the known universe trying to get in my house. It would be nice to have a place where the doors actually sealed shut properly too. All of these things were supposed to be fixed, but never were. I’m just so tired and frustrated by it all, and I can’t wait another month before we have a source of income at this job Oz is up for, IF his aunt even gets hired on out there. In the mean time he’s supposedly got a pretty sure thing working at an assisted living center. He’s got a job offer at a local company that does heaven knows what. It’s a cruddy job, that’s all I know, but it pays $14 per hour, full-time, plus benefits. He’s also got a job offer detailing cars, but he doesn’t want to do that because he’s done it before and he doesn’t like it, but it would also be a sure thing at full-time work making more than he’s making now. I’m thinking about all the expenses we’ve got hanging over us and the ability to solve those problems happening with money, and I think logically. He NEEDS to get one of these jobs. Oz, on the other hand, much as I love him, seems to want to put all his eggs in one basket again, holding out for the job at the school, which isn’t even a sure thing right now.
With all that stress sitting on my head, I just lost it today. Beekee did nothing but whine endlessly all day long. He was clearly over-tired, but trying to do the whole “radical unschooling” thing and letting the kids sleep when they’re tired hasn’t’ been working for the past two weeks. Beekee has been getting so exhausted he can’t even pay attention to one single simple direction, such as “Stop swinging that around the baby. I don’t want you to hit him,” or “Put your wrapper in the trash, not on the floor.” I couldn’t even get him to look at me long enough to listen to what I was saying. I asked him to pay attention while I asked him which documentary he wanted to watch out of the ones I could find about human beings and he refused to even let me give him the titles. He just talked over me and got very frustrated with me. He does this regularly when he’s over-tired, but never like this! He was starting to do really well about settling down to sleep when he was tired. We instituted quiet time. He was willing to observe it. Now he’s gone completely off the deep end and has had several nights where he barely gets 6 hours of sleep, which is half the reason Oz and I have needed to take shifts on sleeping. He lets me sleep in, because I can’t fall back asleep once I’m awake, not unless I’m completely run into the ground. He gets a nap in the afternoon or he’s too tired for work that night. We would just let them stay up unattended, but they’ve proven in the past that leads to me getting up to find the house completely trashed and the kids, again, only getting six hours of sleep and being cranky because they can only sustain that kind of sleep schedule for a day, maybe two, before they become completely unbearable to live with.
Even Corde was in on the sleep boycott. She was so exhausted that she did nothing but whine and complain to me all day about everything and how nothing was fair. I asked her to take a nap, and just like her younger brothers, she threw a temper tantrum. She finally fell asleep while watching a television show and when I asked her if she was awake and wanted to watch another episode, or if she’d rather get some sleep, she threw another fit because she wasn’t sleeping! The drool coming out of the corner of her mouth while she lay slack-jawed while her brothers loud play didn’t even rouse her usual look of curiosity told a different story…but fine, she wasn’t sleeping.
At the end of it all I got so frustrated that I instituted bed time again. If the kids can’t get enough sleep without me making them go to bed, I was going to make them go to bed. I cannot possibly tolerate a day with worse attitudes than today as the result of sleep deprivation. I’ve completely had enough. I’m getting frustrated and exhausted by trying to keep this schedule and combining that with my stress is making me a not terribly fun Mommy to be around. The line’s got to be drawn somewhere. Of course, tomorrow probably won’t be a cake-walk either. Beekee passed out an hour after I sent him to bed, and only after I turned off all the lights, and made him lay there in the dark because I know he makes up the “afraid of the dark” thing. As it turns out the real root of the problem is the toys all over the floor that are actually dangerous to navigate. I understand their room is small and they have very little space to play, but they’ve decided instead of cleaning their room they’re going to take over Corde’s room and trash that with toys, playing so loud and rowdy that Sabrina is afraid to use her cat box and decided to use other things in the house in it’s place…not exactly my idea of fun. Corde ended up asleep two hours after she was sent to bed because she kept coming up with excuses to get up. She kept “finding things” that she absolutely had to put away that exact minute, things she wouldn’t have found if she’d been asleep. This is one of the reasons I canned bed time in the first place. It never worked for us and was always more of a fight than it was worth. With a baby that’s been incredibly difficult to get to sleep even though he’s also extremely over-tired all the time, I’m limited to what I can do for the bed time routine myself. When I wish I could be spending some time getting the kids settled, I’ve got my arms full of Luca who was just woken up by the boys excessively loud play for the fifth time that day, and he’s so tired he doesn’t know what to do but cry. I can’t even put him in his carrier because he starts arching his back like he’s in some kind of pain. It’s horrible. As a result I’ve got no option but to pace for an hour or two in order to get him to sleep. What I need in order to can the bed-time routine again is another adult who can be on board with helping every night, and not just playing video games and talking loudly into the headpiece to his friends. I need someone who is going to be a part of the solution.
In other less-than-ideal parenting maneuvers, I’ve taken away the kids’ art supplies for a week. I know Corde particularly hates me for this one, but it’s become the source of a lot of problems. For example, Luca was hanging out on the bed with me while I checked my e-mail this morning as I’m expecting an e-mail with the tracking number for a diaper I bought. I was then going to do some other useful things, like put away the laundry, maybe start up another load. Corde came into the room and stole Luca, which is no big deal. I normally don’t have a problem letting her play with him. All of the sudden I hear this blood curdling scream come from Luca. I was betting he just fell down, and once again, got exceedingly angry at whatever he was trying to use to support him that didn’t do it’s job. When I went to ask Corde what happened, she was in the dining room at the kids’ table, happily drawing away while Luca was clear across the trailer. I made my observation, “I thought you were playing with Luca”. She informed me that she’d wanted to do her art. I observed that she shouldn’t have come and gotten him if she wasn’t going to stick by him. He could have gotten hurt. The least she could have done was brought him back, or told me so I could keep an eye on him. She completely ignored me and went about doing her art until I asked her if she had heard me at all. To which she threw an exasperated sign and informed me that she hated playing with her baby brother because he was always so annoying. Ugh! Child! Then why did you bother to come get him?!? Of course, I didn’t actually ask her that. I just informed her that if she wanted to do art, not play with her brother, she needed to either not come and get her brother in the first place and haul him off, or to make sure someone could look after him.
Then there was the art supplies. Not only did Corde insist on leaving all her art supplies all over the house, but I found Beekee writing on the walls with some of the markers. By this point I was already pretty done with the attitude I’d gotten all day. I decided to take all the art supplies for a week. I got tired of stepping on markers and pens and having to take them away from Luca every time I turned around because someone left something in his reach. I’ve decided I’m taking those for a week. They’ve been the bane of my existence all day, so I’ve kind of hit my limit. We’ve been asking Corde to clean up her art supplies for weeks because it’s been a cause of constant bad attitude when she leaves them out and the boys use them. It’s been a source of too many headaches, so now she’s going to lose them for a while. I told her I’m not deciding on my own on this one, but I’m thinking a week sounds about right, given they’ve been left out every night for a week.
And then there’s the toys, my goodness the toys! I’ve been asking the kids to clean up their toys for weeks! The boys’ room is so bad that they insist on going into Corde’s room to play. Beekee’s sheets don’t ever stay on his bed because he’s always yanking them off. Sander’s aren’t much better. I know it’s hard for them to keep that room clean because they don’t have much space in there, but they both refuse to clean it. I’ve decided they’re losing their toys for a week. I’ve been threatening for a while, but at the point that Beekee’s afraid to sleep in the dark because he’s not able to get to the bathroom and back in the dark, and the point at which I’m getting hurt trying to get in and out of there to help them get to bed, that’s the point at which I have to put my foot down. I’d love to say it’s their space and they can choose what they do with it, but it’s also getting to the point where they’re trashing Corde’s room because they’ve got no room left to play in their own room. I’m done playing games and it shouldn’t be my job to clean up after both of them. Beekee used to clean his room when he was Sander’s age. There’s no reason Sander can’t do it too. More importantly, if it’s my job to make sure their toys get cleaned up at the end of the night, then it should be my choice as to how much I have to clean up. I think that’s fair. Therefore, for the next week I’ve decided I’ve got my hands full with getting the house organized, catching up with laundry, trying to get on a better schedule so I can get to the library on Wednesday, and other things like that. They’re just going to have deal with me not having the time to clean up after them right now. They’ll have to be creative to play. Besides, they have books and I’m not going to take away their writing supplies.
As if that wasn’t enough, when I was in the bedroom with Luca while he was asleep while Oz was visiting with his aunt this morning someone let Sabrina out. I thought I heard the front door open a couple of times before Corde and Beekee came in to ask where Oz was. I thought I must have been hearing things, which certainly wouldn’t have been a first, so I didn’t even think to ask who was opening the door. Sure enough, someone must have. Corde, Beekee, and Sander all know I’ve got VERY strict rules about them just walking out the door or even opening the door without letting an adult know first. With Sabrina being poised to bolt out the door at the first available chance, I can’t have them opening the door whenever they feel like it. However, I have a feeling someone let her out and just isn’t owning up to it. I wouldn’t be surprised because Oz and I stepped out on the porch to discuss something that had happened at his work the night before and the kids were at the door every two seconds! You may think I’m exaggerating, but I’m really not. I couldn’t even get two words out of my mouth between the door being opened so someone could whine, complain, or throw a tantrum over something. We originally snapped at them every time because we thought the cat was still in the house. That’s when we saw that she was under the porch. I was about ready to scream when no one would at least own up to it and then they insisted on coming to the door every five seconds. Oz and I tried to have some really important discussions and sometimes we really don’t want to be discussing things that are inappropriate around the kids! Thanks to Oz’s work schedule, we don’t have much time but to do it outside.
I’ve just kind of had it. Something’s got to give. I’m tired of the toy situation and the boys not cleaning their room. I’m tired of Corde not cleaning up her stuff and causing fights with the boys as a result. I’m tired of the over-tired kids. I’m done with the temper tantrums. I’m sick of never seeing Oz because keeping our house from being destroyed and trying to get everything done means I never see him. I just can’t do it anymore. I hate to be breaking down on all of you, but I don’t like to be the parent that yells, screams, and takes away things that rightly belong to my kids. I just can’t do it anymore. Oz needs to be around more often and he’s got to be a part of the bedtime routine. I just physically can’t be in enough places doing enough things at once and the kids really are starting to be affected by his absence. Worse, Sander has become super-clingy, which is understandable as Oz isn’t home near as much as he used to be. I fear getting a new job isn’t going to help that situation much, but at least he’ll be home in the evenings more, and once he gets his first check from a new job he’ll hopefully be able to quit his current position.
I guess what it comes down to is all of this stress is really starting to have an impact on my parenting. Maybe this is why so many people living in poverty are such bad parents…it’s sometimes really hard to step back and do the right thing when you’re living with this much stress.