Having a full week off for the recent holidays with two toddlers should have really been a blessing. But, with sickness, bad weather, holidays, a revision of bedtimes and naptimes (Parker started sleeping in!) and all-too-much-together-time, I was exhausted by the amount of discipline I was dishing out. We did a marble jar, rewards, movies, took away toys (fake phone call to a parent where I said I was bringing over Parker’s Christmas presents) and threatened with the ever so cliche, “Santa Claus is watching and is putting you on the naughty list for next year.”
In today’s post, I’d like to introduce you to Headvoice. Headvoice is something we all have. You know, that uber awesome Mom that operates in your head, always correcting your bad Mommy behavior and telling you “what good Moms” do. Headvoice has been living up in your melon since the first time you ate a hot dog while you were pregnant. Or drank diet soda. Or washed your hot dog full of sulfites down with your diet soda full of Nutrasweet. You ignored Headvoice at times (Screw her!) and other times you let her win (Me? I guess I’ll have a salad). But no matter how much you silence her or allow her to vent, she is always there.
Once in a while you help to drown out your friend’s Headvoice. Good Mommy friend at work shares that she turned the monitor off and went back to sleep the night before and you cheer her on—and you do it LOUDLY. “Don’t feel bad. Don’t feel guilty,” you say. You then maybe share some other Mommy mistake you made as a tit for tat. “I zipped up his penis in his feety pajamas.” (True story). Where Headvoice can be a total bitch, your friends can be understanding and ease your guilt. And maybe help you laugh at yourself.
The Problem: All of these things, as resourceful and humorous as they may be have a terrible way of making you feel like a very, very bad Mom who is doing a very, very bad job. You are embarrassed of how fresh/bold/angry/defiant your kid gets and think it directly reflects upon you. And, well it does. If by reflect you mean that it makes every ounce of blood in your body boil, then yes, that kid is reflecting all over you. Be careful.
The Solutions That Don’t Work:
Guilty Rewards: Guilt never produces anything positive. Gifts from guilt, apologies from guilt and food given out of guilt never has true happy results. Headvoice makes sure that guilt begets more guilt. “You’re doing all that cuddling because you feel bad for yelling, you know.” Anything a Mom does out of guilt is tainted as if to say, “I’m doing this because I really suck at that other thing.” You admit your own defeat.
Blaming Your Spouse: About the only time you listen to Headvoice loud and clear is when she points out that the crime of your toddler is not to be attributed to you but to your husband. You go along with this plan because blaming is part of marriage. Now you have two responsible adults arguing over why you should not flavor milk with orange Mio for your child’s cereal (True story, AGAIN) and really, now, the toddler has now formed a team with the Headvoice and they are just going to take over the liveliehood of the entire family. Don’t. Fall for it.
Going Apeshit: Do temper tantrums work for your three year old? Do you need to be reminded they don’t work for you? Yes, you do. Headvoice is all over it. Are you happy now?
Throwing the Baby Out with the Bathwater: When bad behavior rears it’s ugly head, you often want to take away every-toy-on-the-face-of-the-planet and tell your child he is going-to-his-room-and-never-coming-out. Be careful how far you go with your threats. Like the aforementioned Going Apeshit, giving yourself no future carrots to offer for good deeds kind of paints you into a corner (Are you fed up with the metaphors yet?). In other words, don’t be the parent that tells them they are never going sledding again for the rest of their whole life (true story, I can’t make this stuff up) because next time they go sledding on a nice snowy sunshiney day they are thinking— “Remember when this schmuck said we would never do this again? What a pushover.” Enjoy everything in modertation. Even discipline, my friends.
The Solutions That Work and Are Foolproof:
….well, do YOU know any?
I guess where I arrive is the fact that we all have Headvoice—and this Headvoice is not just a Mommy voice, it can be the voice you hear when you spend money, yell at your husband, forget to call your mother back or any time you doubt yourself.
We doubt ourselves more often than we should- as mothers, as working mothers, as stay at home mothers, as wives, as daughters, sisters, friends. We give Headvoice time to speak and soon are feeling the effects on our self esteem. Every doubt is a chink in the armor of a Mom.
So, I encourage you to mute your Headvoice. Get back to being the Mom you are, not thinking about the Mom you are not. Think about the things that drive you crazy about your own mother— your kids will have the same list (okay, maybe a bit longer). But what they will cherish more of the times you were sure of yourself in your parenting. The times you did not waver, did not stray from your beliefs as a parent. The times you “stuck to your guns” and were the Mom that Headvoice never tells you you are: a good one.
And it’s important to remember– even through the tears and tantrums— that the fact that Headvoice does pipe in now and again means that you are a good Mom who only wants to be the best for your kids. And no Headvoice or real voice could argue with that.