Soundtrack of Self-Doubt
I was out to dinner with a group of friends a few weeks ago, and almost everyone at the table was a parent…which meant – no matter how hard we would try – conversations would ultimately head toward talk of our kids. One of the moms was talking about milestones and discipline and how when you are a parent, you are constantly doubting yourself and thinking, “What? Should they be jumping now? Leaping? When do they leap? I had no idea that was even a milestone? Oh no, they just did something wrong, how do I react? Did I just handle that properly?” And I basically shouted – “OH MY GOD! I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE THAT DID THAT TO THEMSELVES! YES!!! I DO THAT TOO!!!”
For the non-parents who may or may not read my blog as a form of birth control, I will break it down for you…You know when you go up to a guy that you think is hot in a bar, and you start talking and about 3 words in you realize you have absolutely no idea whether or not you are reading him appropriately…and you start thinking, “What was that look for? Did you just check someone else out? I wonder if he has a girlfriend? Maybe he is a serial killer? Am I looking desperate? Or maybe I am being too icey…” – That is what it is like in the mind of a parent, AAAAALLLL DAY LONG.
With Ellie, I have two particular areas of concern. One is the fact that she has hit me on occasion and the other is that she has gone on a hunger strike for about 14 days and counting.
Let’s start with the hitting.
I have never hit her, or spanked her, or done anything beyond gritting my teeth together really, really hard and doing that mom yelling voice through my teeth. But for some reason, in the past 8 weeks or so, Ellie has decided that when I say “no” to anything ranging from her putting pennies in her mouth, to her trying to poke another baby’s eyes out – she is inclined to hit me.
And don’t get all swept away with how cute she is – believe me, it is deliberate. And when she does it, my mind floods with all of these thoughts.
Oh my god, my child is going to grow up to be an a**hole. Where did she learn to hit? Is it an instinct? That is a really sh*tty instinct. Now what do I do? Okay, I know this, I know this, I firmly tell her no and explain that hands are not for hitting. Calmly but firmly. Even though I am now panicked that she is going to grow up to be a sociopath. Or some resemblance of an extremely manipulative (and also not very cute) girl that I went to middle school with. Does she need a time out? What is time out worthy? We are in public! How the hell do you put a kid in time out in public. Okay, okay – stay calm, and reprimand. Here we go…
“Ellie! We do not hit! Hands are not for hitting. That hurts mommy.”
She looks up at me, gives me a very sad pout face and says, “NO!”
And then slams her head down in my lap and essentially puts herself in timeout for a good 3 – 4 minutes.
The other eating issue is even worse because I have heard a thousand theories on how the way a parent deals with food can cause everything from anorexia to obesity. Wonderful.
Well, little Ellie has little interest in eating, and even less interest if I am present. In fact, she eats best when I leave her alone in the kitchen. Which is so weird. Don’t try to tell me it isn’t…my sister is a pediatric nurse and she said if a patient told her their child did that she wouldn’t know what to tell them – because it is weird.
But even if I leave her all alone – some days she eats a nibble out of a each item on her plate and says, “All done!” And this is when my anxiety starts…
Well she is only in the 15th percentile for weight and height…she needs to eat more.
“Ellie, can you take a couple more bites?”
Guess what the answer is. “No!”
Okay, so I remember seeing a segment saying that if we push food on our kids they will end up obese because they won’t know how to listen to their bodies when they are full. But I know she isn’t full because she has eaten 3 bites of food all day. Why won’t she eat??? I know she likes what I made – she eats it all the time. Accept for today. She is starving herself…is this about control? Okay, I am just going to leave her in the high chair for 15 minutes to see if she will eat more.
3 minutes later.
Great, she wants to get out and she is crying so hard her lips are purple, so now if she eats any food she will choke and I will need to do some sort of rescue action on her, and at the end of it, she still won’t have actually consumed another bite of food….is ice cream okay for dinner? No. Don’t do something today, you don’t want to do for the rest of your life…how about cheese and pickles…that is dairy and veggies…
“Ellie, will you please eat some cheese and pickles?”
Great…am I teaching her to manipulate me?
Seriously. That is what it sounds like inside the head of any mom, all day, every day.