What I want for my girls…and why it’s difficult to achieve it.

I have realized I have a certain vision I have in mind for how I want to raise my girls. I was responding to a post on Mothering.com forum and realized as I was writing, it became clear to me that I have sort of a personal mission statement with regards to how I want to raise my girls.

In my vision, I am trying to nurture them and provide what I want them to have access to – things that I wanted to explore as a child but really couldn’t (and I’m talking little things, like magnets, and chemistry sets, and unusual pets like frogs and lizards). I want my kids to have their needs respected, their minds to remain open and curious and their personal growth nurtured, but I realize that I need some of that too. I have tried so hard to be gentle and nurturing. Yet no matter how hard I try, sometimes I’m just outnumbered and it’s hard to meet their needs and my own as well.

I find myself having difficulties raising three kids very closely spaced together and trying to carry out my vision for them in a small home.

We have so many interests and so little room for them. What ends up happening is that the three of them, when all home together, end up making messes everywhere and getting on each others’ nerves (you know, the normal stuff kids do). Combine that with my messes from my projects, it gets a bit chaotic. We’ve had Thursday and Friday off due to bad weather. And you can bet they are getting cabin fever and antsy too.

I blame my upbringing for my worst habit – the lack of patience I get when things get out of control (as they can when we are stuck indoors for too long). It gets really hard not to get frustrated with them and with myself, because I tend to get overwhelmed at times and can’t calm down.

My mother didn’t teach me how to deal with intense emotions. And even though I’m having to learn how to deal with the intense emotions of my youngest two (the oldest was always low-key), I’m also having to deal with my own emotions. It’s not easy. It’s incredibly hard. I need to work on that. It feels like it’s one step forward and two back sometimes though.

Sigh. I’m so ill-equipped sometimes, especially in the winter time, where I just can’t get out to get perspective much. I haven’t spent time with any friends in a few weeks.

I did send my husband and the girls out to the library today (fortunately there is one by us that is open on Sundays) and for the first time in I don’t know how long, I got to take a bubble bath, and shave my legs without interruption or one of the girls fighting with the others. It was really nice. That helped a lot. I also got some of the worst spots cleaned up, and I think if they can stay organized, I’m going to be less stressed. At least I hope so.

Sometimes I wish I had a mom that was able to figure it out, so that I could learn from her. She had 3 kids for 10 years (before my younger brother and sister came along), and spaced almost exactly as far as my kids are spaced. Yet, there is no wisdom or understanding for what I go through.

It’s tough to find the balance. It’s tough to deal with the frustration and the simple drain on my personal resources. I’ve said many times I’m not equipped to handle three. I fail a lot of times to be what I set out to be for them. I get frustrated, angry at times, then immediately remorseful because it’s not how I want things to be. But, fortunately, I talk to them about it and right the wrongs as soon as possible, and then we deal with it and move on. I’d rather not have that happen though. I wish I had it all figured out and all my triggers erased so that I wouldn’t have those little mini-breakdowns.

I worry what they will carry into their futures. I hope I am effective at righting the wrongs before they get imprinted into their psyches. Yes, I know kids are resilient. But I wish I didn’t have to have the negative outbursts I occasionally have when I am at my personal limit (I tend to be a highly sensitive and introverted person, so my threshold is a little on the low side).

I’ve heard people say about their parents…well, the did the best they could with what they had. I don’t know why that sits funny with me. It sounds like a mixture of pity and forgiveness for whatever went wrong but not acknowledging that there was anything right going on.

I don’t know, I just feel like I don’t want my kids to say that about me. I want them to say “You know, my mom did a pretty good job overall. My mom listened to me/my dreams/my upsets, accepted me for who I am and helped me to become a better person and believed I could do whatever I set my mind to.

Oddly enough, as bad as things were in my childhood, I recognize if it weren’t for my personal struggles early on in life, I don’t think I’d be nearly as strong as I am had I not had the trial by fire with my family. For me, the only way to get out of the craziness was to rise above and prove to myself that I was very capable.

It’s just that it was very different when it was just me. I was able to figure things out and be at least moderately successful (as in going after I wanted and getting it and having the respect of colleagues when I worked in the clinical laboratory). Now there are three other personalities and sibling issues to contend with too. I’m way outnumbered to figure out all the issues that crop up daily. It wears me out. While I’m not depressed, I have come close to it in the recent past, but have dealt with it.

I do know I need to work on this more, because I want my kids to have happy childhoods and learn how to deal with their emotions and not let them feel abandoned in dealing with some of the things that they will inevitably face. I felt too abandoned in my own childhood and it stayed with me a long time, even in subconscious ways despite having worked it out on the surface of things.

I want things to be very different for them. I hope I can live up to my personal vision for them.

I’ve heard it is supposed to get easier as they get older. The littlest one will be four in a few months and the oldest will turn 7 tomorrow. I’ve been told that it’s the early childhood that is the most intensive part because it’s so hands on, but as they need you less it is not so draining (at least physically if not emotionally).

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8 Responses to What I want for my girls…and why it’s difficult to achieve it.

  1. el burro says:

    I just found your blog, and even a brief reading tells me that you are dealing with many of the things I went through, both in my early childhood and in raising my children.

    I wanted to say that yes, it does get easier in many ways once the kids get older. I have a medical degree, but stopped short of finishing my pediatrics residency to stay home with my children. It was the right thing to do, for my kids at least, but I found it incredibly difficult. I maintain to this day that I am not “stay at home mom material”. I don’t have much in the way of patience, and I find it quite distressing to be surrounded by disorder. I like things neat, quiet, and organized…..not realistic with four children. When the children were toddlers, babies and preschoolers, I lost my temper with them frequently, and felt great shame in doing so. My feelings of guilt and remorse kept me up at night, vowing to do better, and I remember struggling also with feelings close to depression.

    Now the kids are 7, 9, 12 and 14, and life is much, much easier. I ended up homeschooling b/c the oldest boy turned out to be profoundly gifted….another story for another time….so I’m around the kids alot, but now it’s more like living with semi-adults who can be expected to take responsibility for many of their actions, and who are generally very pleasant to be around. I really enjoy our days together, and am seeing the positive results of all of that hard parenting work at the beginning. Laying the foundation was time consuming, but it sure paid off for the kids.

    I encourage you to continue in your efforts to be emotionally attuned to your kids, and to cut yourself some slack. You have your own inborn temperament which you didn’t ask for and have to manage, and as long as you are honest about that with the kids, they will not internalize your occasional outbursts as having anything to do with them as people. Plus, it’s the two sides of the coin concept. We can’t all be everything, and the aspects of yourself that make it hard to be, say, patient, are the same aspects that make it easy for you to be organized etc.

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to add you to my blogroll. I haven’t run across many parenting blogs that deal with the issue of raising gifted children, so I’m very interested in reading about your experiences.

  2. el burro says:

    Sorry, I forgot to say that you can find me here:
    http://thejuma.wordpress.com/2008/11/25/the-story-of-a-boy/

  3. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Thank you so much. I’m about to tear up just reading, feeling heard…except there’s no time for tears because I have to go pick up my oldest two from school.

    I have to ask…are you the same El burro that posted comments at High Cognitive Minds? If so, that’s great (and do you know if she has a new blog somewhere?)! If not, hello and welcome.

    Gotta run but will be back.

  4. el burro says:

    Glad to have been able to be a bit of a listening ear. It is HARD work, being a stay-at-home parent. I totally hear you on that.
    Yes it was me that posted on HCM, and no I didn’t know that she had a new site. Do you know the URL?

  5. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Oh, yes, definitely add me to your blogroll. I know there aren’t many out there that explicitly deal with raising gifted kids. I keep my eyes open all the time.

  6. raisingsmartgirls says:

    She talked about it on the HC site, and the last time I checked (a few days ago) the site wasn’t responding, so I thought she may have lost it.

    I think I have her email though, so I’ll check on that and get back to you.

  7. joanna says:

    I admire you for posting this. I have so many of the same feelings of frustration, anger, and out-of-controlness but I haven’t had the courage to talk about it online. I have two (6 & 2) who are gifted and their brains, energy, sensitivities, excitabilities, and the utter chaos they create in a matter of seconds wear me (and my patience) out completely. I feel like the worst mother too much of the time. I know I’m not alone but it is so good to be reminded.

    Thank you!

  8. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Joanna –

    This blog has been really a lifesaver, for the reasons you and I mentioned. I have to be honest with myself somewhere, because if I don’t, I would fall apart. Sometimes I lose my way a bit in the daily grind and I need to re-focus my efforts when I drift from my ideal.

    I do know what a difference a day can make. I can have a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day one day, and everything fall into place effortlessly the next. Every day is a new chance to start over. Some days I get it right, and others…well, that’s when I need to change focus. You know about writing, the only way I can really process my thoughts and feelings and gain (almost) perfect clarity is by writing. The only way I can work out some of the guilt of falling short is by openly admitting it and trying to do better.

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