Jarom and I were talking last night about how our parenting has changed – or how we wish it would change – since Christian died. We want to be more loving toward Evan and June, to make sure they know how much we love them, just as we wanted Christian to be loved.
Easier said than done.
Maybe I’m short on maternal instincts or perhaps (definitely) patience, but kids are frustrating! And difficult! And challenging! It’s hard for me to feel compassionate and loving when June calls me back into her room at 11:00, 11:03, 11:08, because she wants pink milk and then it wasn’t pink enough and then she’s terrified of monsters and then she wants more smooches. (Post coming soon about our challenges with June’s intense fear of the dark.) Why isn’t she asleep at that time of night? It’s even more aggravating when I know we’ll be doing the whole routine over again at 4:00 am.
Or I could talk about Evan’s breakdowns when I ask him to clean. If I even say the word “clean,” he immediately starts whining and nearing tears – “But I haaaaaaate cleaning!” I’ve tried a lot of approaches, none of which are very successful: explaining that everyone hates cleaning, even me, but it’s part of my job and his job; saying that cleaning is a lot more fun, or at least less bad, when we do it together; rewards for when he does pick things up; asking him to put away just five things – they’re all met with “But I don’t want to clean!”
I admit, there have been a few times when I try to explain that we don’t always get what we want and I didn’t want Christian to die and hey, Evan, you just NEED TO CLEAN even if you don’t want to. That’s life.
It probably isn’t a very good parenting technique.
But there are subtle changes. I am gradually becoming just a little more patient and a little more willing to understand things from my kids’ point of view. If I have to sit in Evan’s room and instruct him to pick up one item at a time and then tell him where to put it, maybe that will be better for all of us than me losing my temper and Evan sobbing and wailing about how terrible cleaning is. Maybe Evan and June are subconsciously trying to make up for the fussing Christian will never do. When June spends the better part of an hour screaming because she wants Tinkerbell underwear (how dare I put anything else in her closet), maybe I can remind myself that although it is a minor – and ridiculous – issue to me, June’s world is crashing down. Maybe a little sympathy?
And there are so many good moments. Lately Evan and June both love telling me I’m a donkey so I’ll make donkey sounds, or trying to make me fake cry because they think it’s hilarious. Right now we’re at the play area (don’t judge) and Evan is crawling around pretending to be a dog, with five other kids copying him. June is making a dinosaur eat my face. Or kiss me, I’m not sure which. Evan went on a drive up the canyon with Jarom’s grandma and declared that the fall colors made it Rainbow Mountain. He also insists on wearing his new Batman pajamas day and night. I’ve put my foot down about him wearing them to preschool, but everywhere else he’s mostly admired for his wardrobe choice. I suppose four-year-olds can get away with it.
I’m trying to be patient with myself as I work at being a better parent. Again, easier said than done. But I think – I hope – I’m on the right path.