Another thing they don’t tell you

I know that I am not the only mother who cries while cleaning up the kitchen because the fighting will not stop.  The words that come out of my kids’ mouths to each other, about themselves, toward me.  I’m left depressed and heartbroken. 

I am an expert at counting my blessings, finding the beauty, reframing the situation so that it becomes more manageable.   There must be a bad combination of me being inexplicably thin-skinned and fragile coinciding with the uptick in everyones’ bad mood.  I stopped in the middle of cleaning up several vases of dead flowers left over from last weekend and turned to the boys who were fighting over some of the still-pretty carnations.  I yelled at them to stop fighting and yelling.  SO EFFECTIVE to yell at someone when you want them to stop yelling.  Really.  It works every time.  /sarcasm

It’s just that I love them so damn much that when they fight and fight and fight and hurt each other, it guts me.  I do not care if it’s normal and if all the other siblings everywhere act like this.  It fucking sucks.  If it is normal, it shouldn’t be.  I will never believe that it is.  We had such a great string of nights last week.  That is normal.  That is what I want for us.  I want my kids to think back someday when they are grown to what it was like to be little, and for it to make them feel good.  I want them to remember curling up in my lap and feeling happy.  I want them to remember the times when the power went out and we lit candles.   I want them to remember that the four of them would all sleep in the same bed at night, little puppies keeping each other warm and content.  Instead I find that three of the six of us here have been diagnosed with depression.  That the days are more likely to be stressful and full of conflict than not.  My kids are going to grow up and start families and not want their home life to be like the one they had growing up. 

Maybe I’m just writing about all this too soon after a bad evening, but I am feeling like I’ve failed a basic part of being a mother.  Somewhere they’ve been led to believe that it’s okay to act this way at home.  I have always come down hard on them for physical fighting, and the minute conflicts turn to name calling action is taken.  But I wasn’t strict enough?  I didn’t get the message across?  I did and they just don’t care?  There’s too much other stuff going on and none of what came before matters?  I can’t even get enough clarity about all this to figure it out. 

We’re planning this trip to the snow.  I am not expecting it to be perfect.  I am aware that the ski and snowboard lessons might not take place if the weather is bad.  I don’t expect our family to transform into the Von Trapps and become fictional characters who are beautiful, well-dressed, clean, and exceedingly polite.   And the singing; can’t leave that out.  But at the same time, I need for us to have a nice time together.  I need that.  I really want to see that things can tip the other way, toward the fighting being an uncommon thing, toward more of the nights where the kids pile into my bed and we read books and tell silly jokes and give each other choppy massages and then fall asleep a little later than we should.  Having my kids around me in the middle of the night, listening to all the noises they make as they breathe and dream, it’s everything to me.   I know it’s not a good idea to let my kids define me.  I don’t think they do, but at the same time they are the core of my being.  I’m built around them just as surely as my skin is built around my bones. 

It’s raining out.  Really hard.  The kids are all sleeping in their beds, and I’m in my bed alone with a bunch of tissue and a knot in my chest.  I want to wake them up then scoop them up and bring them in here with me.  Instead I will treat tomorrow like the new day that it is and try again to get it right. 

10 thoughts on “Another thing they don’t tell you

  1. marian

    This was a lovely post. I have no advice–having had only one child I know nothing about the subject. I think you’re on the right track with just taking each day as a new day. Maybe try to let go of your expectations of the great ski trip–that’s probably setting yourself up. And sometimes it’s the key to success (letting go of expectations).

  2. Ali

    Today is one of those days here. Will they kill each other first or will I kill the pair of them? I can’t fathom how much pleasure they seem to derive from being vile. This morning I shut the kitchen door, put the music on a little louder and wondered how on earth I had managed to produce two such objectionable human beings. You are not alone.

  3. Donna

    Oh dear. I hope a good night’s sleep and a fresh new morning made everything seem better today.

    People who live together don’t always get along. It’s OK. Your kids know you love them. They love each other and they love you. That stuff last night will pass.

  4. Sandy

    I just went through the exact same thing the other night. I really freaked out on my kids, they had been fighting, arguing, competing , bickering and teasing non-stop for like three days. I completely blew up and scared them. I didn’t mean to, i just couldn’t take one more second of it. NO. IT IS NOT NORMAL!!! What gives?? IT seems so “unnecessary”. i remember some occasional arguing/teasing with my siblings, but not to the extent my kids do it. Is there a link with TV watching maybe?? mmmm I’m going to experiment…It’s got to stop.

  5. Candy

    You cannot take their fighting with each other as a personal affront to you.

    Even baby bear cubs do nothing but fight with each other. The problem is, we gave our children words. SOO much more effective than a claw swipe across the neck.

  6. jenijen

    wow! thanks so much for the kind words 🙂 i’m so grateful for them. things were better this morning, but aren’t too good now. i’m at work, though, so john is having to navigate through it.

  7. gwendomama

    i had written a marvelously, wickedly clever comment to this, when suddenly microsoft encountered a problem with an add on and needed to close. i was patient and amiable – what was my choice?

    when i was pregnant with E2, a friend of mine used to bemoan how much her (2) children fought. constantly. bickerfest.
    she used to say to me ‘just you wait and see…your kids will fight you will wonder why you ever had more than one…’

    and i don’t know which part about that choked me up – the part about how elijah could never fight with his sister, or the part about how desperately i wanted my kids to have the benefit of experiencing sibling relationships to the fullest – the love, the fighting, the obstacles, the solutions….all of it.

    sometimes i still have to remind myself of those quieter days.
    but i wouldn’t trade these days back in for those any day. ever.


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