Screw It

I’ve been struggling a lot with this whole issue of over-thinking my parenting.  What I realized today is that I feel so inordinately responsible for my kids’ emotional health.  On the one hand, of course this makes sense, and of course this is something that a good parent should do.  But I think I take it to some ridiculous extreme such that I’m constantly doubting myself, assessing, reassessing – and acting irritable all the while because I can’t think straight.

Needless to say, this kills any potential for joy that I might – possibly, somehow, miraculously – find in parenting.  Or in life in general, for that matter.

I had a frustrating session with my therapist today trying to talk through all of this stuff.  My frustration stemmed from feeling like my therapist wasn’t really understanding what I was feeling.  That’s unusual for me after a session.  She usually gets it and she knows me well enough by now to recognize the places where I have difficulty (she can probably see them from a mile away!).  But this time I felt like I kept trying to explain in different ways that I’m ultimately responsible for the kids’ emotional health, aren’t I?  And so all of these little interactions are significant, aren’t they?  After all, I didn’t get any of the emotional tools I needed growing up, so isn’t it up to me to figure them out for myself and figure out how to give those tools to the kids – all before my oldest hits 12 or 13 and doesn’t care any more about what Mom and Dad have to say??  Talk about pressure.

In my head, everything with my kids has such import.  Everything is laden with layers of meaning, and debates over what messages I’m sending, and what messages I should be sending, and on and on and on.  It’s dragging me down – to put it mildly.  But the part that frustrated me with my therapist was that she couldn’t put into words how I could think about this differently – so that I could try to act differently.  She couldn’t tell me that my actions didn’t affect the kids, or that they wouldn’t be affected by how I chose to handle all these things.  Because guess who’s in her office every week struggling with exactly those things from a kid-grown-up perspective?

So there was a disconnect in my conversation with my therapist, and that frustrated me.  And I probably don’t need to point out that if I can’t rationally follow the line of thinking, there’s no chance in hell that I’m going to be able to grasp it emotionally either.  But I think what she was trying to get at toward the end of our session was that maybe I could try something radically different for a short while.  Maybe I could kind of do a 180 – and try something totally different.

What??

More confusion.

But this whole idea of trying something different sort of percolated in my head for the rest of the day.  I think maybe I kind of get it now.  And for me the approach might be best summarized by this eloquent statement:

SCREW IT.

Screw all of the debating.  Screw all of the concerns over messages.  Screw all of the over-analysis and obsessive thinking about whether I’m doing things exactly right.

Screw. It. All.

Instead, I’m going to go with my first reaction when it comes to the little things – and take out all of the angst with that stuff.  It doesn’t mean being indulgent – but it means letting myself off the hook for grading my every response to the kids.  I’m also going to try to remember that this is an experiment of sorts – it doesn’t mean that I have to do this for every interaction, or for the rest of my life.  I’m simply (simply!  ha!) going to try it on for size, just to see how it feels.

Example 1:  The kids asked for a piece of candy this afternoon.  My answer?  Yes.  THE END.

Example 2:  My 7 year old E was complaining about a yellow notebook in the school supply bucket.  She didn’t want to use it because it was so bright that it blinded her.  (Yes, my kids are prone to exaggeration.)  She whined and fussed.  My response?  We already have the yellow notebook, so you’ll have to use that one.  You need three other notebooks anyway and you can pick out better colors for those.  THE END.

Next time maybe the kids don’t get a piece of candy.  Or maybe I have a different response to a yellow notebook type of situation.  The most important part of those replies, for right now, is: THE END.

I feel oddly liberated tonight.  There’s something freeing about just saying Screw It.  There’s really nothing in my life that gets that kind of cavalier attitude.  And the reality is that I’m generally very rational, and fairly reasonable, and thought-ful in my approaches – and I’m certainly not advocating throwing to the wind any of the fundamentals of our parenting.  But maybe a lot of the small stuff can be handled by the Screw It philosophy.

So here goes.  I’m heading off into uncharted territory.  Wish me luck.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Screw It

  1. I understand the over-thinking. I finally learned to go with my first instinct. When I first went to my therapist, I had a bunch of mom guilt of causing my adult kids mental anguish as they were growing. She pointed out that my husband and I were not their only influences. They have peers, teachers, and observe the behavior of strangers. What I discovered, you don’t have to explain your reasons to anybody (well, maybe those inquisitive kids) why you do this-or-that. What you choose to do should be what feels right to you. Not someone else’s definition.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s no shortage of mom guilt EVER, is there? 🙂 Groan.

      Part of my problem is that I’ve been convinced that I have terrible maternal instincts. And frankly, a large chunk of my experience seems to support that…but I know there’s probably some exaggeration on the part of my committee there. I need to build up my confidence, and learn to trust my instincts – or work on developing better instincts where needed.

      That’s an interesting point about the other influences that kids have. Most of the time I think of those influences as being bad ones especially for teens and young adults – but that’s not always the case, as you point out. And when I think of the other adults and even kids in their lives now, I realize that we have a pretty solid circle of people. Not all of them have the same values that we do, but we’re certainly exposing the kids to people who we believe are fundamentally good people. That’s not to say that the kids won’t choose their own friends, who may not always be what we would like for them, but those are learning opportunities as well.

      Whew. Thanks for sharing your experience!

      Like

      • Love them, and spend time with them. As I look back, that’s all they needed. Worrying over if I was doing this-or-that right according to someone else’s view, or my own stinkin’ perfectionism, only robbed me of my precious memories.

        Just love them. 🙂

        Like

  2. Kudos to you for being open to change! Of course, like all changes, there will be lots of adjustments on both sides.
    I made some really, really big mistakes when raising my son who is now 29. The fact that he made it to 29 is a miracle of its own.
    If I had a chance to do it over again, I’d sit down and make two lists. The first would be, values I want to pass on to my child, and how I can model them, since kids learn by experiencing what their parents and other significant people show them via their behaviors. The second list is the values I DON’T want to pass on. This can be an eye opener! So that means there are some behaviors I have to change in myself so that I don’t teach them inadvertently by modeling them. Looking back, if I’d have done that, not only would my son have had a different and much healthier life, but so would I!

    Like

    • Your two lists are a wonderful idea. My husband and I realized not that long ago that we need to clarify the bottom line values that we want to pass on to our kids. There are so many things that you’d like to teach your kids, in an ideal world with infinite time and energy and opportunity…but at the end of the day, what are the things that we really want them to learn?? It’s a question that’s much harder than I would have thought. We need to then take the next step of writing them down – there’s something so concrete about seeing them written.

      As for the second list, I hadn’t thought of that but I can see how valuable that would be as well. I can already think of several things that would go on there – but again, maybe I can’t stop all of the things that I want to stop, but I can at least try to identify the major ones that I really, really want to avoid.

      Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Note to self | One Depressed Mama

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s