If you know me, you know that I like to do things naturally. It’s not because I’m a big hippie, it’s not because I ran around barefoot as a kid, and it’s not because I fit into a particular definition of crunchy. It’s because to me, doing things naturally is simpler. And my brain can’t handle all that much complication. You know how I feel about birth, babywearing, breastfeeding, and all that: to me, it’s just easier to do it all as simply as possible. But for other moms, easy means something else.
But what I really want to talk about today is discipline.
There seems to be more information out there on child discipline than there is on baby sleep, breastfeeding, or crafts with kids. I’m a big fan of gentle discipline, promoting healthy social interactions, and discouraging negative behaviors by emphasizing their natural consequences.
But a lot of what I read online makes me feel like a shitty mom.
There are lots of blogs out there that shed a negative light on motherhood. I tend to shy away from those. I love reading articles written by other moms who like to live a little more simply. I’ve gotten a lot of tips and advice from blogs with titles like “How to Gently Redirect Your Tantrumming Toddler” and “Five Ways to Turn Hitting into Hugging.”
As I read many of these articles, though, the thought that flatlines in the underbelly of my brain as I frantically take notes on the important stuff is, “Is she serious? No mother is calm/well-meaning/level-headed/sane enough to actually carry all of these gentle tips out. By the end of the article, I’m usually tearing out my own hair because my own kids are teetering at the top of a tower of stools or blocking the 2-foot space that allows me entry into the kitchen with every pillow, chair, and stuffed animal in the house. (This stuff really happens. I’m not exaggerating to enhance the visual imagery here).
And then I put down the computer, sigh as I realize I really should be paying attention to my kids, and force a smile as I gently try to redirect Baby T from stealing ALL of Little M’s toys while narrowly avoiding flailing limbs. This can often end up in some form of punishment/yelling/sorryattemptatatimeout/unhappymom/pissedofflittlekids.
Then I wonder: how do all those moms who talk the gentle talk online actually react when their kids flip the switch that changes them from Stepford Wife into some kind of deranged lunatic? Because not a lot of people talk about that part. It’s easy to sit down, grab a cup of coffee, tune out the screams, and nod your head when reading about using distraction to curb a tantrum, but when reality hits, what part of your brain reacts? It’s not always the logical, intelligent, sweet part that was rolling full force when you were reading about this. It’s the exhausted, tiny-fist-bruised, crusty, greasy part that often reacts first.
Of course, there are a few sweet and gentle souls who can’t find it in their hearts to ever raise their voice at a child, but there are more who can’t find it in their hearts, but it sure comes from somewhere. I would love to see more moms talk about how they actually deal when the shit hits the fan–or their preschooler hits the baby. That’s the kind of honesty that brings us mamas together.