My kids. 7, 5 and 3. They are the lights of my life, my blessings.
Best of friends.
Haha, just kidding about that last part.
Here’s the real deal. My kids have near perfect behavior in school. They like rules, crave routine, respect their teachers and are unconditionally kind to their peers. Even Maggie, the littlest, is known for her sensitive, warm demeanor amongst the pre-school crowd. And then they come home.
Backpacks are flung, socks are buried under couch cushions, snacks are consumed with gusto. And my little Ultimate Fighters in training let it all hang out. They are a scrabble of fists and fury and slanted, accusing eyes. In fact, unless enjoying TV, eating dessert or pooping, it truly seems that someone is fighting. ALL. THE. TIME.
Back in the day, I was the co-organizer of the Fairfield County Attachment Parenting Group. I’ve got positive discipline tools coming out my you know what. I spent years practicing what I preached and we got through disagreements peacefully using respectful words, listening to feelings and hugging it out. Everyone counted. And now, my copy of ‘Siblings Without Rivalry’ mocks me from the top shelf.
I’ve explored all causes for this onset of extreme aggressive behavior. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. I “Postive Disciplined” until my kids literally couldn’t listen to the happy talk any more. They are rebelling.
2. I went back to work too soon. Ohhhh, the Mommy Guilt! The aching Mommy Guilt!
3. We moved too many times. They have lacked comfort and security and now that we’re “home“, they are allowing pent up anxieties out.
4. Not enough: Vegetables, milk, water, sleep, exercise, one-on-one time with Mommy and Daddy, fresh air, organized activities, playdates, organic food, didn’t breastfeed long enough.
5. Too much: Screen time, talking, dessert, expectations, wheat, dairy, sugar, carbs, ingredients in their shampoo, fluoride in their water, breastfed for too long.
6. I am a bad mommy who, in spite of all of this practice, cannot keep my kids from fighting. I fail. F. ZERO. BAD, BAD MOMMY!
Over February break my parents got to witness my three kids at their worst. My littles didn’t hold back any punches. (Sorry, had to.) And my parents who have raised five kids, weren’t the least bit surprised. They never once suggested that I did something wrong to cause this behavior. I’m sure they didn’t even think it! And yet here I am, obsessing. Trying to find the cause.
But when another mom confided in me how her kids are prone to fighting these days, I encouraged her to cut herself some slack. When I revealed that my kids, too, are really struggling to keep the peace, her relief was palpable. We laughed and moaned over how much we are physically aching for sunshine and warmer temperatures.
In the meantime, I will embrace the fleeting moments of sibling love. (Mainly because they are fleeting these days.) I will stop fantasizing over how much better they used to get along. I will stop judging myself. I’m doing the best I can. So are you. Let’s all cut ourselves some slack.
And if I see other siblings tearing eachother’s hair out fighting over seats in the minivan afterschool, teeth bared and slinging potty words that would make Samuel L. Jackson blush, I will breathe a sigh of relief and know I’m not alone.