Monday, June 29, 2009

Motherly Guilt: Perfecting My Technique

Being a mother is full of guilt. Not just feeling it, but inflicting it too.

When I was first pregnant with Jack I got a bad cold. I got out all of my pregnancy books to see what kind of over the counter cold medicine I could safely take. Everything I found said basically to stay away from all drugs in the first trimester unless it is absolutely necessary. I remember telling a woman at church who had five kids that I had a bad cold and she suggested I take a dayquil or something. I explained that it just wasn't worth it because once the baby was born if he ever had any problems I would always wonder if it was the stupid Day-quil I took early in pregnancy. She looked me in the eye and said "Welcome to motherhood." I laughed thinking that she was so funny and clever. She stopped me and said earnestly, "No, seriously. Welcome to motherhood. You will spend the rest of your life wondering if you are screwing your kids up." She was dead serious. I thought it was the most hilarious exchange at the time but now I get it. I really get it. Cammie Smith, you are a wise woman.

So Jack has taken to punching Ella and Emma when he gets mad at them. Its summer and they are bored and they spend all day pushing each other's buttons and picking fights. Jack seems to always escalate to violence. I feel like I have tried everything but I just can't get him to cut out the hitting. Time outs, spanking (yes I know its ironic to hit a kid for hitting) positive rewards for not hitting etc. etc. I feel like I'm just not getting through to him. So the other day he had been sent to his room after a fight and I decided I would just level with him. Here is our conversation:
me: Do you think I'm a good mom?
Jack: Yes, you are a really good mom.
me: Well, when you hit your cousins I feel like a really bad mom. I feel like a total failure.
Jack: (completely shocked by this information) You shouldn't feel bad about yourself, Mom, you aren't the one punching anyone!
me: Teaching you to be a good person is the most important job I have and if you grow up hurting people then I have done a bad job.
Jack: I wont hit anyone anymore. You are a really really good mom.
Me: Promise?
Jack: Yes, I promise.

And maybe its too soon to declare victory on this one but I can tell you that he hasn't hit anyone since and he seems totally committed to peace.... just so that I won't feel bad about myself. Why did it never occur to me before to use the age old tactic of guilt. Next thing you know I will be mentioning to him how many hours of labor I went through to bring him into this world or telling him how far I had to walk to school uphill in the heat. Whatever works....

There was also a hilarious conversation between Ella and Jack and I that I though was worth sharing. Ella was explaining to Jack (as she often does) that the devil whispers in your ear and tells you to do bad things, but Jesus whispers in your ear and tells you to do good things. I interrupted and told them about the Holy Ghost and gave them a little lecture on listening to the Still Small Voice and shunning temptation. I asked what are some things you guys can think of to help the Spirit speak to you? Their answers: "Say a prayer! Tell the devil to shut up!" They were really into it. I mentioned that what has always worked for me is to sing a hymn or a Primary song in my head and that invites good feelings and temptation leaves. It was a good little lesson. A few minutes later Ella approached me with a very frustrated look on her face. "Staci, do you know any Primary songs?" "Sure, I know a bunch of good ones." Very solemnly she said, "Well, its time to sing them because the devil is telling me to do something really bad." Alrighty then....I can't imagine what in the world the devil was telling her to do and I guess I really don't want to know so we busted into a rousing round of Book of Mormon Stories complete with Indian drum beats and hand motions. It worked like a charm. Afterward she told me that the devil did not like that song and that he took off immediately.

Kids are so literal. It cracks me up. Ella often taunts Jack by saying "Jesus is in total control of everything I do and the devil is in total control of everything you do." This is usually about the time she gets punched.


Courtney said...

You are a great mom! Those stories are awesome! Can I grow up to be like you and teach my kids like you do?

Jaime and Brent said...

What a riot! Kids are so funny.

Brittney said...

i love that conversation! that is so clever you thought about turning around on mothering are so funny, i love that you talk to him like he is 10, and he understands it!

Stacia said...

I think we don't often give kids credit for understanding things, so kudos to you for giving Jack a chance to think of things differently! Those are so pretty funny stories about being tempted too!

Christy said...

Jack's name came up today with no reports of hitting incidents. Good job! Chalk it up as victory, because you have to when you get them! Sorry I missed you today. I actually considered cancelling my dentist appointment when I heard you were coming over.

Chelsey Howard said...

K that is hilarious!! I am definetly gonna try that guilt tactic on my kids!! And I love the Ella and JAck stories:)

Maryann said...

Staci, I am totally going to try that tactic on Conner!! I know I won't be able to deliver it like you, maybe you could come spend the day in Idaho.... There is just something about some little boys - they love violence! Conner is very physical and my Emmett is very calm. Crazy they both came from me.

I love the story about the Spirit too. They really are so literal. We are going to the Temple open house is SLC in July and Emmett was so suprised that he would be allowed in, he said "Will Jesus be there?" I love having kids around to keep me in line.

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