Monday, June 20, 2011

Houston We Have a Problem; And My Cup Runneth Over

I wrote this post in my head last night as I stewed and tossed and turned unable to sleep. Gotta love a post like that, which eventually turns into a dream about some doggie beauty pageant or something weird like that in which I am inexplicably involved.

Anyway, the blog post was mostly an incoherent rant, which would make it not much different than my regular Monday musings, so let's dive in!

It dealt with the bumpy, no, HELLISH re-entry we've experienced since my dear daughter returned after a week with her cousins in Ohio. All week we missed her, mused on her endearing qualities, and prayed for a good trip. Within 5 minutes of her return, we were ready to send her packing again. Apparently, her father, brother, and I are idiots, worth no more respect than a dried booger on the underside of a school desk, while her cousins have the perfect family. Aargh.

Which makes me think of punishments. We have taken away computer time from Jake for a week due to some low marks on his report card-- you know the categories that deal with respecting authority and doing one's best? This is one of the "Who gets punished more, the mom or the kid?" scenarios. It's going to be a long week. I sure hope one of you has read a recent and well-documented article that proves that removing screen time in June improves school performance come September. If so, please forward it to me.

Which leads me to parenting and spousal frustration. Since day one, Tom and I have had different parenting philosophies. His is based on control, while mine is more loosey-goosey, although I do like structure. I want the kids to do what's right, because it's what's right. He wants to give them charts and rewards and punishment. I know my way has flaws, and I know his does too. I tend to base my parenting on the WHY (she's frustrated, he's tired, etc) of a situation and he bases his more on the WHAT (the action).

We each pull from our own childhood experiences. When I was Molly's age I acted like a raging lunatic, but my mother would not punish me for it. As I've written here before, she would just let me spin out of control in my own dramatic way, until I realized no one was getting wrapped around the axle except me. Then I would calm down, sulk off with a book, and be ready to behave well, or not, the next time around. I could re-enter the family covenant without having to dissect what I had done. Tom's family utilized grounding, paid for good grades, and had charts about earning tv time and the like.

The thing is, while this causes a lot of conflict between the two of us, if you look at the 6 kids who came out of these differing environments, some binge drank, some did not, some tried their best in school, some did not, some attend church, some don't. All went to college and received advanced degrees. All grew up, had children, and are now navigating this parenting thing themselves. We all turned out pretty great, so I don't think there's only ONE way to parent.

But Tom's and my relationship seems brittle these days. We are annoying the heck out of each other. I know I can type that here, even though he reads this blog, because when you have been together almost 20 years, it's foolish not to acknowledge that there are ups and downs.

Our latest battle centers around having a TV in the bedroom. I want one; Tom doesn't. There are just times when I want to watch tv in bed. I also want another option when the downstairs tv is on baseball. Ugh. We are at an impasse, but I am super-annoyed that I've given in on this one for the past million or so years. I feel my blood boiling when I think about it.

Which leads to my health, and the fact that 3 weeks ago I joined a small group focusing on health and wellness. I was sick of my back hurting, of staying up too late, and of eating crap. I made a list of goals:

1. Get more sleep 2. Eat better 3. Drink Water 4. Lose 6 lbs 5. Take Vitamins 6. Pray 7. Improve relationship with God and my family 8. Increase libido

So here we are, three weeks in, and I've GAINED SIX POUNDS! Inconceivable! That which I wanted to lose, I have now found. Sheesh. Now my pants don't fit and my bra cups runneth over, again.

And speaking of item # 8, libido, this is the rambling thought that came to my mind as I tossed and turned last night. Prepare to be creeped out to the max.

My brain:

"Well, I hope Tom doesn't expect to get romantic tonight just because it's Father's Day! I mean, it's not like he's MY father."


I think I need more sleep.


Deb said...

-->We navigate the parenting obstacles around disclipline in my house but thankfully, we're usually in the HOV lane traveling together. I'll gladly give you the tv in our bedroom.

Sokphal said...

HAHAHA! Loved the last line! Hilarious!

Christy said...

Oh man. I feel for you. I think you should get the tv - he doesn't have to watch it, does he? or maybe get a laptop and watch tv on it? About the daughter - OY - I was a hellion. No advice here. Re: the man. Oh man, I've had that kind of thing run through my mind too. :(

Ellen aka Ellie said...

What are his reasons for not wanting a TV in the bedroom.

And in the weight thing, you're not alone, my friend and I both recently decided to do some healthier things which allowed us both to gain about 5 pounds. Except ours isn't in our boobs.

Share your secret?

And as a parent (of one) and a teacher of 20+, I RUN from anything that involves keeping track of children's behavior on a chart--I lack the discipline to remember to put the stickers on the grid...

As for grounding him now? I'd wait until the first month of school and then limit his time. That's when it matters--and that's when it will count.

But since I can't remember to put stickers on charts, I sure won't remember I suggested that!

Valerie said...

You're crazy, but funny. :) Is there a guest room you could put the TV in? That way you could still lay in A bed when you wanted to watch TV during baseball season, but it wouldn't be interfering with regular romance. Just a thought, but if libido, sleep, prayer, and weight are issues I'm not sure more TV watching would be a great idea?! TVs are shown to keep people awake too. Devil's advocate...sorry. :(

Jill said...

Whenever you figure out a way to punish the daughter for sassiness ... and for the attitude of "X's house is better than ours" ... PLEASE let me know. Because we have the SAME issues here!

And in our house TV and iTouch's are ONLY watched / played on the weekends ... so to take it/them away it's a BIG deal. And when it happens, boy are my kids MAD!

I'm very rigid in my parenting - but I've had to be ... being a solo parent this year. And 3 kids - all with their own ideas of how to behave "properly" ... I do look forward to relaxing a bit once we move and get into a "real" routine!

And as for the TV ... I've never had one in a bedroom. I'm not a huge TV watcher as it is ... so good luck on that! I say that ou want it, put it in ... he just doesn't have to watch it. Right? Just please promise you won't turn into one of those peeps who can only go to bed with the TV on. Like my parents - whose TV I swear I can hear halfway across the other side of the house. Because of course, they're now deaf from having it on every night - and it just gets louder and louder and louder!

Elisa @ What the Vita said...

I always love your honesty! And despite all of this, you make me can't wait to be a parent to a couple of tweens :)

Maybe instead of "eat better" as your goal, you could write something out that's more concrete, like "I will eat at least three vegetables per day" or something like that - I think that would work better? Sorry for the unsolicited advice!!

Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...

I love all the advice-- thanks!

Heidi said...

I don't know how many times I'm excited to see my kids after they've been babysat for the weekend or overnight or whatever, then they come home and within minutes any excitement I had is gone and I want to throw a full-on tantrum.

I'm for TV in the bedroom. Don't give up. It can happen. :)

I love, love your honesty.

Anonymous said...

Have I told you lately how much I love, love, love you Anna!! I love that you are casually, deeply honest and thoughtful about the details. Too many people just get 'honest' on a broad scale of their beliefs... but you are trying to figure out how live them in the moment. You inspire me to reflect on my actions and thoughts in a new way.

Best analogy of the day goes to "dried booger on the underside of a school desk".

BTW, the reason I have time to respond to this post is because 2 of my girls are out of town this week. Last night, Jeff and I were wondering out loud... Is this how it is going to be in just 5 short years when they are all off to college? It was quiet. We went out to eat. We started planning a trip together. We laughed at the idiots at the table next to us. We came home and played "words with friends" next to each other in bed.... even though we have a TV in our room... I'm kicking his butt.
Life is good. Next week I'll be back to booger status.

Susie - Walking Butterfly said...

Ha! wow, that last bit was super creepy but I get it.
The old church lady in me would say that the item about better time with God should be #1, but it is not that easy I know.
But I will say that the God part being better does make the libido part better for me! Ha! Talk about weird?! ha!

for a different kind of girl said...

My husband and I are on different parenting pages, too. He is from the 'If I just don't say anything about anything, then everything will be OK," and I'm from the "You keep this up and I will take everything from your rooms and leave you with just a pillow and a scrap of fabric for a blanket, so take that!"

Of course, before I'm even done saying something like that, I'm thinking of all the work involved in stripping out the kids' rooms and, well, OK, I'm lazy. We're simply not that effective with the consequences. We took their iPods away this weekend, and they tore the house apart searching for them. If they'd only thought to CLEAN out the house at the same time... :)

Masala Chica said...

Ok I love this quote:

"Well, I hope Tom doesn't expect to get romantic tonight just because it's Father's Day! I mean, it's not like he's MY father."

Too funny.

I think that it is really hard to have different parenting philosophies. I am reading a book called "How to Talk So Your Children will Listen: How to Listen so your Kids will Talk" (I am sure I just killed that title). It talks about the issues you mentioned - like whether punishment really helps or just creates resentment. I am trying to embrace some of the concepts in the book and they seem to work, but I can't even get my husband to pick the book up so its all very frustrating.


Megan said...

I feel your pain. I'd like a TV in the bedroom - we are huge movie watchers. Bryan (hubs) doesn't. So, we compromise. We bring our laptop into the room so that we can stream a movie and show on Netflix, and then its put away after.

Also, don't forget that if you aren't drinking a lot of water and are somewhat dehydrated, your body will latch on to the water and hoard it, which causes you to gain weight. Drink more water! Soon your body will believe that it's going to get more.

I just had the same issue. :)

I'd give you encouragement about kids but I don't have any. I'll be praying for you though!

Anonymous said...

So interesting! I too love your candidness.


Gretchen said...

My love and I have very different philosophies as well. It causes me to second-guess myself constantly and resent him at the same time. Sometimes I'm so GLAD he's the kind of parent he is. Other times I am so glad he's not MY parent.

Sounds like you've been cursed with the same thing I was: you've been give a child exactly like yourself. Payback's a bitch, ain't it?

Lex the mom said...

I found you via a comment you made over at Smartly, when Texan Mama was a guest blogger. So, I thought I'd pop over & read some.

It's one of those things that gives me goosebumps. I made a post the other day, not so much laying out as much you did here, but just a frustrated post. After reading this, it's like we are kind of kindred spirits. The differences you speak of in discipline are similar to our own, while I'm the charter (my only offered rewards are time off for good behavior) & at the same time kind of "loosey-goosey" as you so eloquently put it (so appropriate for me!), and he's the one who wishes to be in control and only interested in the what. We go through a mixed bag of what you are dealing with.

The part where you mention feeling the relationship is brittle, maybe it's a time in our lives. I can't be certain, but if you asked me 2 years ago, I know I wouldn't have questioned things like I do today.

You know my parents had a tv in their room when I was a teenager, well, maybe from age 12 & up. It became a central meeting place for the family, oddly enough, & a hang out. Some of my fondest memories of that time in my life come from spending time in their room watching tv together. It wasn't just tv, though. We ended up talking more & just being silly. I look at adding a tv as beneficial because of my own experience. It may just end up bringing everyone closer together.

& your list of things to improve on sounds much like my own mental list. Amazing goosebumpery!

Jake sounds exactly like my son Kyle. We've been dealing with bad grades & limited computer time for so many years (it feels like forever) and I can tell you that the one thing that has worked for us, without fail, is taking it away. We took it out of his room (though he would get very limited time on mine when he was doing well). And I did feel like the one who suffered the most. The constant badgering, the begging, the nasty reactions to not getting his way - at times, I thought I was going to go insane! I even cried (not in front of him, of course...). I stuck it out, this past year & while his grades weren't what I know he's capable of, they were much more consistent & a lot better than last year, or years prior since 5th grade. He'll be a junior in HS this year & he's scheduled plans to take 5 honors classes. We've discussed what that will mean for him, the commitment, & he says he understands. I believe in his desire to do very well. I have hope. (sounds so sappy, but it really does feel like that!)

Sorry to take up so much space. I just wanted to show that I absolutely relate to a lot of what you posted here. It's nice to feel not so alone!!

I can't find my blog said...

So much to say, so little space. ;-)

I put up with a lot from the kids but attitude is one that I won't tolerate. You may spend time alone in your room but when you're out with the rest of us there will be no ugly attitude. If it continues there are consequences-loss of computer/video games, no playing with friends, etc.

Positive reinforcement seems to work better. Good grades, good attitude, etc. gets you more fun times/things. Seems to work for us... most of the time. Maybe there is a happy(ier) medium that you and Tom can come to agree on?

Marital annoyances are normal-you've read about mine! I find that when I get uber annoyed with him, it's because he's having more stress at work, sleeping more, doing less around the house and I am being a whiny baby. While that's just us, sometimes it takes a step back and a view of the bigger picture to see what is really behind the crabbiness. (Taking my little blue pill doesn't hurt either.)

And finally, aren't you cute with your 6 lbs. If I only had 6 lbs. to lose I'd be doing the happy dance! I know what you mean though. I'm trying to lose 12. I don't think it will be gone by my reunion on July 8th, though.

Hang in there-we all have those days!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Different parenting styles is so hard. Chris and I have the same struggle - but I guess I tend to win more since our kids are so little. (I'm like you and tend to look at the "why" and try to talk it out).

As for the TV...that will never happen at my house. Chris would be lying in bed watching it all weekend long. Would be convenient sometimes...but I think it would drive me crazy - and it would always be one of his channels anyway.

katie said...

LOL. Thanks for this POST! I soooo needed it! :)