My NO and I battled again tonight. Same damn thing. But I didn't let it emotionally exhaust me to the same extent. We got home from a late trip to the grocery and hardware store at about 5:45 and I told the boys that while I made dinner, their job was to take out the garbage and recycling. It didn't happen. Of course. And yes, I got frustrated with them and showed my disappointment by saying I didn't want to be with them right now because I was frustrated with their choices and made them eat their dinner at the kitchen counter instead of at the table with little brother and me. They both really turned it around, especially the MC. My breathatarian as we call him has taken to eating lately and wanted a second breakfast (for dinner) burrito. Amazing. Anyhow, I made him clean up the effects of his toy/costume tornado earlier and HE DID! And then I made him a second burrito. And then he went upstairs and cleaned up his room. He was amazing. He completely and totally turned things around. He didn't even throw a fit about the bird's nest from several years ago that little brother found and smashed into little broken twigs all over his bed. It was incredible; he just got a container and started picking it all up. I've never seen him quite that responsible and willing to do work (that he hasn't chosen to do). Number One also turned things around, at least with his attitude. He still never managed to get the recycling and garbage out, but he did end the night respectfully. He was so tired that after brushing his teeth, he got in bed and wasn't even reading. I went and sat on his bed and talked with him for a few minutes before reading to the others (in a reverse of the normal routine). I told him what Dr. P and I had talked about. That I knew we would get through this and be able to look back on this really hard time and see how we found our way to a better time. In contrast to two hours earlier, when I kept pointing out that he wasn't being "on my team," I told him how much I loved him and how much I trusted that we were going to come out of this together. Our conversation (definitely one-sided in words, but two-sided in intimacy and emotions), went something like this:
"I understand that you're angry sometimes, kiddo," I said, "Is that right?"
He nodded his head.
"And sometimes you're angry with me, right?"
More nodding, sad, sorry eyes.
"And sometimes you're angry with me not about things like garbage and recycling, but because you wish I would make this whole big change in our lives better and make it not happen at all, is that right?"
He was snuggled under the blankets and his poor face showed me how close to tears he was. Fighting them back.
"It's ok to feel like that, kiddo. I still love you. I know we're going to get through this and it won't always feel like this. We won't always be battling. I know we love each other too much for that."
More nodding on his part with big glassy eyes.
And I can't remember what I asked exactly but I wanted to double check that I wasn't misinterpreting all that head-nodding, so I asked something to asses whether he wanted me to be there and having this conversation, and there was confirmation, so that felt good.
And then he came in and joined his brothers for a family story. It was a good tuck in. The older two were perfect and the LO was, well, what we know three-year-old's to be. Nothing that a stern voice and the threat of a closed door can't handle.
And I can't help but wonder if he has conversations like that with his father. I doubt it.
Dr. P said that research has shown that I only need to do a good job of this parenting thing 1/3 of the time. Go figure. I do a pretty damn lousy job of it sometimes, but I'm also confident that I'm doing a straight A job a 1/3 of the time, and I get passing grades for at least another 1/3. So, there. It will all be ok.