There are many times when I feel less than enough. It’s happened most lately with the arrival of my (step) sons (we are working on eliminating the step from our vocabulary). My parenting skills have gone beyond the normal teenage angst testing. I have spent many hours in tears, crying in a corner of my kitchen, my children hiding in their rooms to avoid my wrath.
We have since discovered that my older boys suffer from PTSD. Specter has a nasty habit of bullying and using threats to cause bodily harm when his rage overtakes him (which happens quickly), especially in regards to his little sister. I think he sees and knows how good she’s had it yet doesn’t appreciate a lick of what she has (it’s true, although her appreciation has taken a turn for the better of late, it’s still got a long way to go) and it adds to his jealousy factor.
Then there’s Casanova, who at 14 cusses like a sailor, and is especially fond of calling his little sister names—and not the traditional ones like brat or snot. He uses the “b” word on her enough that if you opened the dictionary, you would see her name under the definition.
Of course, we have Jellybean, who is going through many emotions. She now has two more to compete against for her mom’s attention. Whatever dreams of how a big brother should treat her she had were shattered. She’s feeling left out more often than not because they have a tendency to gang up on the rest of us (yes, even me). She is the only one with her last name—and that reaches beyond our immediate family. Her last name isn’t even the same as grandma’s.
I feel like I’m constantly being graded. I constantly see a giant F stamped in red ink on the parenting paper. I’ve never been confident of my parenting skills. I’m constantly wondering if what I’m doing is normal since my own childhood was so abnormal. Am I too strict, too one-sided or do I go too far the opposite direction? How do you deal with a 14 year old with a potty mouth? Why have I procrastinated in getting Jellybean’s last name changed? How come I feel so out of touch with my kids?
I’m not afraid to admit that I am out of my league, because I totally am. I fear that anything I might do could trigger a flashback in one of the boys and all hell will break loose (because it has). It’s one giant power struggle and I don’t always win.
I know I can’t do any more than my best, and I have to realize that I am enough, but I can be better. With the in-home counseling (which is great! I want to keep her forever!!), researching and finding online parenting sites like Empowering Parents, and my faith in God’s hand in our lives, at the end of the day, I just have to take a deep breath, maybe cry a little, and stop beating myself up.
I’m only one person. This is as new for me as it is for them. We’re all allowed a few mistakes on the way.
PS. If you are a parent struggling with an “out of control” child, I encourage you to visit Empowering Parents and poke around, read the articles. I can’t even begin to tell you how much they have already helped me deal with these behaviors.