Thursday, October 08, 2009

Same Direction

I love my garden.

While it might not be the most successful thing I've done, it does produce a little and more than anything I truly enjoy working in it. I love the smells, the sights, the dirt under my nails; it is one of the few things I don't mind getting all dirty and sweaty for. It is fascinating to me; the process of planting seeds, watching and encouraging the plants to grow; the bearing of "fruit". The stages of it bring me joy and wonder, heartache and elation.

I've been considering purchasing some fruit trees; specifically apple and pear, because those are 2 of the primary fruits we eat. I would love to cut that expense out of our monthly food budget for some of the year. But I hesitate to spend the precious $30+ for each tree because I know that it will take several years of cultivating and caring and tending before I ever see fruit. And when that finally happens I will have invested way more than the initial $30.

I have to remind myself that what I get out of the things I grow goes well beyond the fruit produced. It is an outlet, a sanctuary for me to relax, spend time in nature, explore, get outside (or inside if needed) my head for a while, and a way for me to just be myself. The garden doesn't expect me to be "on" or be fun or be intelligent. It just needs me - as I am. I try to do the best I can with it and my limited knowledge and it rewards my efforts with beautiful flowers and fuel for my kitchen.


Many days I am not the parent I want to be. This stage we are in (please God, let it only be a stage) is something I don't feel I am able to really handle. I yell way more than I like. I am easily angered, easily frustrated. It seems all the endless and unwavering patience I once had just flew out the window, taking my sanity with it. I get so. very. angry. at Kiddo. He fools me with his intelligent conversation and amazing brain and I all to often forget he is just a little kid. And we (Kiddo and I) are both caught in the middle of wanting him to be bigger than he is and we both are irritated that he is still so immature at times. His frustration and completely irrational reactions to things fluster and anger me. I don't know how to get him to understand anything anymore because he either won't listen or he gets it in his head that he doesn't understand and then nothing I say can change his mind.

I am not a yeller normally. If an adult angers me, I am much more likely to go away silently or to cry. Or both. I do not confront. I do not yell. I get sad and depressed and sometimes I might confide in a good friend and be angry in the conversation, but I rarely show that anger to the offender.

With Kiddo, it's different. I don't know what it is about him that makes me react the way I do.

And I can see how unfair it is sometimes. I can see that I favor the baby right now. But that is more about the baby's age than anything else. He is just...well.

easier. For now.

And after a particularly intense moment, I feel awful. Terribly, terribly awful. I never want to yell or raise my voice in such a way. I don't want to make him cry with my words and my actions.

I don't want to scare him.

I don't want him to be afraid of me.

Sure, I know there is a healthy dose of "fear" when it comes to your parents. But somehow in the last 6 months or so we have transitioned from a fear that comes from knowing that mom and dad are the leaders and they can take the fun things away if I screw up... to a fear of, oh crap I screwed up and now she's going to scream at me again.

I am kind of out of leverage here. I can take away the video games and it doesn't really seem to bother him. Instead he drives me insane about it by asking every five minutes what day it is and what day he is going to get them back. Or worse, he will remind me every five minutes what day it is and what day he will get them back. The boy is a human calendar.

Taking away toys is tricky. One, he has so many that missing one really isn't a problem. Two, most likely the toy in question is one that the baby wants, and taking it away causes me problems with him. Time outs don't seem to work anymore.

And it's not that Kiddo is a bad kid. Quite the contrary - he is pretty amazing most of the time. He is smart and clever and funny. His eyes light up when he knows he is being listened to. He talks constantly. And I am serious about that - he does not stop talking ever. He even talks in his sleep. But he really is fun to be around and so very often I am amazed at how wonderful he is. It makes me ache that I can't do more for him. The guilt is almost too much to bear.

But I think with basic discipline, the majority of our issues lie in the fact that we don't do anything.

We, well he, Kiddo, is bored out of his sweet little mind.

He is a social butterfly. He loves being around people and kids and he loves being out of the house.

But with the baby and my work and the nap schedule, I can only do so much.

Never mind the fact that I am totally opposite. Given the opportunity, I could stay in my house for days at a time. I like being home. I am comfortable here.

But Kiddo, staying home is just not his thing. And he needs to be around other kids. He needs to talk and run and play and do something active. I want so badly to put him in something like a sport or karate; I know he would love it and thrive in the activity. I wish we could send him to school.

But of course, it isn't going to happen.

It's going to be a long year.


I discovered today that something is eating my lettuce plant babies in my garden. I am pretty sure it is slugs.

So I am tossing down coffee grounds and oats and anything else I can come up with to deter or kill them. I am replanting seeds and pruning and digging in the dirt. It is messy, it is tiring and it is sometimes painful (like when I step on the rake - cartoon style). Sometimes I look at my garden and sheer joy and satisfaction comes over me. Sometimes I look at it and discover something chewed on or dying and it makes me cry. Sometimes I see a pest and I get so angry that it is nothing for me to squish it between my fingers.

But I know if I keep pressing on, working through the sickness and battling the bugs and nurturing and talking to the plants I will create something beautiful. I will help to cultivate something wonderful and life sustaining and fragrant. Along the way I will get frustrated and things will get messy, but in the end it will all be worth it. The investment, be it financial, emotional or physical is an investment in the future.

Perhaps motherhood and gardening are not so different.



Jen Barnes said...

Dawn, I could totally have written the part about the boys. Word for word: YES. I am going through the exact. same. thing. and I hate it. I hate being the yelling loud mean mommy. Hugs.

jhjohnstone said...

Ditto. Parenting is so hard sometimes :-( I'm not where I want to be either.

J. Nalley said...

He sounds so much like my JM. I was in your shoes this summer and was thinking how can I send this child to school. i was convinced she'd be a behavior problem despite her brightness. You know what the problem was? She was bored. Even with all my crafts and play dates, she was bored?!? School has been the best thing for her. So hang in there and your time will come. You love your child to pieces and he is going to remember that beyond a period of frustrating days with some yelling! Hey I've yelled and the next day get a "You're the best Mommy in the world!" So, then I know all is fine and sometimes I manage to remember those moments in my angry days and let the anger fly away a little faster.

Julia said...

*hugs* I think we end up yelling at our kids because we are so emotionally invested in them that we react with all the same intensity to things good or bad. A psychology professor said something once in lecture that has always stuck with me: Our very best traits are also our very worst traits. I think there's a lot of truth to that, especially in parenting.

I yell at my kids too without wanting to, and when I get angry with other people, my first reaction is to retort logically and calmy so totally an opposite reaction as the kids.

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