Motherhood and Sinking Feelings

Jane has too much on her plate. This morning she had no skirts, they’re all in her locker at school. She’s forgotten to bring them home. I know that she has four. I’ve bought four for her within the last month.

Math was full of tears, and science brought on sobbing.

I can’t help her with this. She just has to work harder, and probably get rid of the weekday sports. I also have to shut off all telephones and computers and make the evenings 100% about the kids and homework so that there are no distractions. iChat is gone, cell phones are gone, and playdates are a thing of the past.

The problem is that Jane sees this as a punishment where I just see it as a logical consequence.

That’s not true, the real problem is that I hate the thought of Jane losing her freedom, and I hate the thought of being tyrannical, but I don’t see any other option.

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10 Comments

  1. Parenting is a constant juggling act. I am a big fan of logical consequences and letting kids fail. The trick is trying to do so without destroying their self esteem.

    Part of our job is helping them identify and define their limits. We won’t always get it right, but it is better to try and fail than not at all.

  2. It’s the age. Really NOT my favorite age!! I say when the 3 year old is the EASY one in the household, you know it’s a tough time. :-P

    Technology adds layers and layers more challenge to something that was already hard enough! You are, of course, sooooo not alone. And it’s a learning process for both of you, finding the balance. Just remember that work is not everything, middle school grades are not everything.

    I think we all have a knee jerk reaction and go crazy authoritarian the first [few] time[s] our kids go off the rails with school work. Take a deep, steadying breath and think about teamwork, collaboration and goal setting. Help her brainstorm goals and problem solve how to achieve them. Position yourself as one who is on her side in succeeding – not the enemy to rebel against. (Not easy – many hugs!!)

  3. You are just crossing over to the next phase, honey. Hang tight and stay nimble and you will do fine. I have faith in your good judgement as a mom; it’s all about new lessons. You will all make it through. And if you need to scream once in awhile, that’s fine too.

  4. DocNina

    Sounds like one of those great life lessons. The kind that really suck when you’re going through it, but make your life easier later on – assuming you remember the lesson. Life is all about prioritizing. Not “balance,” b/c there’s no such thing (and if you disagree, it simply means you are better than me). You have to give something up to gain something that is more important at the time. The good news: it’s all temporary, and those things you surrendered get to be recovered soon – the ichat, the cell phone, the weekday playdate…Added bonus: a kid who’s less likely to take those perks for granted, and considers them rewards instead of rights. Consider removing one or two things, and determine if that makes a difference, instead of, as wise-Betsy suggested, going crazy authoritarian (knowing damn good well that’s what I’d do, but I can be more rational giving advice than using it myself).
    On a personal note: no tv and playdates are allowed during the week over here (Jane would SO LOVE to have me for a mom). By the time my 4th grader comes home from school and sports, there are only about 3 hours left in the day to eat, do homework, prepare for bed, read to wind down, and turn off the lights. If the school day is made shorter, or days are made longer, I may consider allowing 30 minutes of BuildABear website. But, until then…

    • Oh yeah, I like that excellent distinction re: prioritizing vs. balance – very much.

      Wise Betsy? I like the sound of that, too – ha! Tho I am MOST assuredly a work in progress…

  5. I’m having this exact same discussion–with myself! I’ve decide to have no computer from 3-5. It’s a critical time to get my household running smoothly for the rest of the evening and I can get sucked into a Twitter void like nobody’s business. I think we all struggle with this and this is just the beginning of Jane figuring out how to balance what she wants to do with what she has to do.

  6. Why does it feel so bad when we try to do the right thing? When I try to enforce the consequences (by not rescuing them), my sons accuse me of “hating” them. They know which button to push to make me feel guilty. My youngest one has also internalized all disciplinary actions as “Mommy is mad at me”. I have to reassure him every single time that I am doling out punishment not because I am mad but because I love him. But then I catch myself and feel very strange for sounding like a cliche…

  7. You hang in there Jessica. As much as we may want to be our kids friends and have them like us all the time, the reality is that we’re the ones who have to make the tough decisions because that’s what parents do. Even if our kids hate us for it at that moment, take solace in the fact that you are doing the right thing. From everything I’ve read here on your blog, you are a great mom. :)

  8. I recommend seeing the movie “Race To Nowhere” – it may stop you from making that decision. School work is not the most important thing in her life.

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