There is no smooth transition to a different topic, so I will just jump right in.
As a parent, there always seem to be infinite behavioral issues you need to deal with. During toddler and preschool years, tantrums, screaming, hitting, scratching, biting, not sharing, straight-up saying no (just to name a few), seem to be the big ones. At times, you don't know where to start. Sometimes I just think, "Wow. I am really, truly a terrible mom and I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing." I do seek advice from other wonderful mothers who have gone before me, and one suggestion I have tried to follow is the concept of focusing on one behavior at a time. With that, actually teaching them how they should respond, instead of just consequences when they exhibit poor behavior. That way, they know what they are actually supposed to do. With this method, I do try to pick my battles so I'm not forced to really accept other terrible behavior... meaning I try to avoid putting them in situations that I know will cause an issue if that is not what we are working on right now. It doesn't work all the time, but I attempt. If this made no sense to you, the point of all of this is that parenting is ridiculously hard and can feel impossible, like ALL the time. And you feel like you are screwing up, like ALL the time.
You can have a moment when you are excited how your kids are acting. I'm not saying excited as in proud or arrogant that they are angels... they are not, they are children who act like children. I'm talking excited as in you actually see glimpses of progress in areas you are working on. It is amazeballs! A major thing here with Layla and Summer is when I tell them something and all I hear are the choruses of "But mommy..." and other whining. So I have been working on them saying, "Okay mommy." That is all I want to hear, end of story. Whining sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me, I detest it. A major thing I have been working on with Olivia is her reactions... aka not scratching, drawing blood and giving her poor cousin scars (Sidenote... for whatever reason, this is her reaction with her cousins but not her sisters. No idea why, but regardless it is just not okay). This was her "thing" for a while. It was a terrible "thing," and we have been attacking it full-force for a while with decent results.
This past week, we had walked over to my sister's with Layla and Livi for a few minutes. At one point, my niece Madelyn had something that Livi wanted. I have no idea if it was taken from her or any other context of the situation, but instead of gouging Madelyn's poor skin with her nails, she just ran straight over to me and said that Madelyn wasn't sharing. I realize that it was very probable that Livi just wanted what Madelyn had, but she didn't react!!! I cannot begin to explain to you my excitement over this. She was met with a situation she would previously have drawn blood for, and she walked away. MIRACLE!!! HOORAYYYYYY!!!! I praised her up and down and she was thrilled. Progress!!!
Several minutes later, I called down to Layla that it was time to go. As I waited for the whining and begging to stay to begin, I heard it. Music to my ears. "Okay mommy." I almost keeled over. I basically grabbed Layla and bounced around my sister's house whooping like a crazy person. It is really just so exciting to see the fruits of your labor in action. This may seem like a ridiculously small wins to non-parents, but try battling a small child when they are tired and have absolutely no desire to do what you are saying. We joyously left, with me still on the high of an actual checkmark in the win column with both of them.
Then... it came crashing down. Just minutes later. I mean, we weren't even home yet... And that will put you right back into your "I am such a terrible mother" zone. On the walk home, Layla decided to have a straight-up conniption that she wasn't the "line leader"... aka walking ahead of me and Olivia. I'm talking sobbing-in-the-middle-of-a-field conniption. It was not awesome.
So you get put in your place very quickly. It is endless; it is always something. But you keep trying, because that is all you can do. I love them too much to let them become brats. It is hard to remember to praise the good behavior, not just get upset at the bad. Despite my efforts, they most definitely have their moments... and moments they are. Ahhhh motherhood.
In other news, we had a fantastic Saturday night at my cousin's wedding. It was down outside of Ocean City at a brand new gorgeous yacht club... and new is an understatement. I think they installed bathrooms last week. I saw my cousin's now-wife a few weeks ago, and this will give you an idea of her awesomeness. When asked if she was stressed out about the place not being finished, her response was, "If it has a dance floor, a bar, and bathrooms, we'll be good." They are such a phenomenal couple and the wedding was perfection (in part because one of the specialty drinks was an Orange Crush. I die).
It also happened to be the weekend of the OC car show, where sitting in the back of your pickup truck, drinking beer, and watching traffic with crazy cars mixed in with normal ones is actually THE event. My grandma could not get over it.
Yesterday was a major event in our house: it was Layla's last official day of school for the year (please don't ask me how I am going to entertain her every day. I'm working on that). She was in class three days a week with my two favorite teachers in the universe (they were Summer's teachers last year, and will be Olivia's next year... yet they still like me. More miracles!). Here is a side-by-side of her first day of school and her last:
I'm so sad that her baby-ness is going away. She is really turning into a little girl, WAY too fast. Well, except for the whole line-leader conniption thing.
Another major event occurred yesterday... I became an aunt for the 10th time. Matt's sister Katie and her husband Garrett had their second girl, named Brooklyn Rose. It was a delivery surprise which I absolutely LOVE (both Layla and Olivia were... it is the last true surprise in adulthood and I definitely recommend it. Such an amazing and exciting moment). Their daughter Kemper will be a phenomenal big sister. I think because of my relationship with my own sisters and having three girls of my own, I just get so happy when a girl gets a sister. Built-in best friend for life. We are also awaiting another major moment... Matt's brother's wife is due with twin boys any nanosecond. The latest they will let her go is tomorrow, and she is SUCH a champ for lasting this long (38 weeks!!!) with two in there. I really, truly, cannot imagine her discomfort, but I have not heard a single complaint out of her mouth. True rockstar.
Hope everyone's holiday weekend is phenom... I will be running that 10K on Monday, so hopefully I will survive to write another post next week!