Thursday, April 28, 2011

What's the alternative? By Liimu

I know a woman who is raising nine kids by herself. They are all seemingly well-behaved, happy and active. And I wonder how she does it. I have four now, and although I know that with the newborn this is probably the hardest it will ever be, but there's a part of me that has to wonder whether part of the secret is to know what to let go of.

There is a lot of yelling in my house right now. And believe me when I say it's fairly evenly distributed amongst the lot of us, including the baby. There are heart-to-heart talks where we try to logically reason with our girls about why they should stop bickering so much, stop talking back, start helping out, start being more independent. They openly admit that they're acting out because they're jealous of the baby. While I appreciate their candor and their self-awareness, it doesn't help this constant headache I have from all the attention-seeking behavior. One child yelling at the top of her lungs the lyrics to Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" in what vaguely resembles a singing voice would be bad enough. Multiply it by three, vary the songs and the singing ability and add stomping with all your weight (including a 4'8" 8 year old) and you start to get the picture.

I have a friend in recovery who I sponsor who recently drank. This morning she said she didn't want to do AA anymore. I completely understand why - AA is hard, it takes continual attention, commitment, discipline and work. It requires you to go deep within yourself and constantly work on improving yourself and the way you interact with the world. It requires a higher standard of behavior and accountability than most of the world adheres to. (Or maybe it just seems that way because I'm a reformed drunk. Maybe the rest of the world has been being well-behaved and accountable all along and it just requires a higher standard than I or anyone in my sphere ever adhered to.)

But here's the thing. The alternative is so much worse. Essentially, for me anyway, the alternative is to die (at best) or to live an angry, stagnant life, at worst. That's sort of like the situation we have here. Many days, I don't want to do this the way I'm doing it. I don't want to keep trying to figure out how to engage with my kids in a healthy way, how to raise them to be responsible, loving, spiritual beings. It's hard work and it makes me so tired. But what is the alternative? Unthinkable. So, I face another day, doing the next right thing in front of me.

So here's my questions to all you moms out there. How do you do it? What are your secrets for keeping the peace? Keeping your cool? What do you do beyond gritting your teeth and muscling through? I go to therapy. Off I go. Hope to hear your ideas.

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