Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Do I regret having four kids?

That was the question my husband asked me the other night. The day that I totally lost it on our children. Thursday. In short, the answer is no. Absolutely not.  It has NEVER crossed my mind! Things have been so rough here lately. With three boys in school, myself in college, and a baby at my feet, afternoons, specifically homework time (3-6 pm), have been unbearable. No one ever wants to do their homework. Cullen's homework (in sixth grade advanced studies) takes him over three hours a night to do. He has to do it in his room because the rest of the house is so hectic and chaotic, and I honestly don't know what he is doing in there.  I have to sporadically check in on him, when I remember to.  At the end of the night, his answers are sometimes wrong, and they need to be erased and redone.  Aiden needs me to sit next to him and spell words out as he writes sentences (which he does not enjoy), and he needs to read to me.  Roman, well he needs someone to basically DO his homework at the age of four, as he is not great at finding objects in magazines, cutting them out, and pasting them in order correctly on the notebook page.  And then there's my homework!
The back talking, growling, hissing, fighting, fits, and everything else negative that is happening in this house, drove me over the edge Thursday.  I lost it on my children, yelled (and cursed) like an insane maniac.  I told them I could care less what they do with their life, they can fail and it's on them to repeat the grade, not me, and that I no longer would bother with trying to help them succeed (to put it all nicely).  I then called Jude at work, sobbing, telling him to come home before I did anything else stupid in the parenting department.  They won!  The little midget bullies in my home conquered me.  I was angry for the next 12 hours or so, though I did fit an apology in that evening to my poor, disturbed, children.  But, I have held a grudge the past four days and can feel a tiny distance between me and the boys.  I hate it.  I absolutely hate it. 
Jude was upset, concerned, and in desperate need of an immediate answer.  He tried talking to me that night, but it was of no use.  The following day, he came home early from work and informed me he had made an appointment with a family therapist; one to lead us in the right direction in this parenting saga.  I was a little upset at first.  In fact, it bothered me for days.  Until today.  Today was the appointment day and I sat in the office with my arms and legs crossed, sipping my Starbucks frap.  I wanted to see where this was going to go, but not necessarily "be there".  After 20 minutes of being in the room, I noticed my arms were unfolded, my drink was done, and I was talking.  Maybe being there wasn't such a bad idea.  The therapist had already suggested something I hadn't thought of in my time of desperation...a reward chart for doing homework.  The ol' positive reinforcement scenario.  She also said a few other things that made me look at it all differently.  I came home with a completely different attitude.  I made up a chart for all three boys that consisted of BEHAVIOR, CHORES, HOMEWORK, and EXTRA CREDIT.  We have a system!  We had a family meeting tonight following dinner, and after, I wrote up a contract.  They will sign this tomorrow.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I will no longer reward my children, unless it is earned.  Everything will be earned and/or taken away.  I will not be treated with disrespect and tortured.  Homework fights are over.  So is the back talking, sibling rivalry, disobedience, and tantrums.  I am taking back over control!  One of the things Jude and I have to do for therapy homework is to write a list of what we consider to be a good parent.  Should be a piece of cake.  I may post that later when it is done.
I have a few underlying issues with Jude and his parenting role.  One is-he is way too lenient and does not correct our children like he should.  I am the disciplinarian.  He is the passive parent.  No one ever really listens to him, and he doesn't seem as bothered by it as I do.  I feel like I am always picking up his slack.  Two is-he says, way too often, that we don't spend enough time with our kids.  THAT drives me nuts!  My entire life is centered around my children.  There are cub scouts, football practices and martial arts, Monday through Friday.  Every Friday evening is family night, which consists of pizza and a movie, or some other fun family thing.  That's been in affect for over a year.  Bedtime stories are read 6 out of 7 nights a week, always have been.  Dinner is eaten at the table together EVERY night; all 6 of us.  We attend church together at the church THEY want to attend, plus catechism on Sundays.  We also will fit in a weekend family fun day almost every weekend.  I am on the PTO at both schools, a room leader for my Pre-K student, home every afternoon when they get home from school, and we still find time to interact and play with them.  Yet, he feels we do not spend enough "time" with them.  That is something he needs to work out within himself, and I hope he can knock that out during one of our future therapy visits.  I think we spend TOO much time with them.  lol  WE need more alone time! We are doing the best we can with four rambunctious boys, but every now and then, we all need a little help.  I guess that is sometimes hard to accept, like admitting you are not doing that great of a job, when performing the most important job you will ever have in your life.  I'm glad I have Jude by my side.  There is such a long road ahead...

PS-I don't write this for you to judge me.  I write this to remember the hard times, so the good times will feel that much better.  I am not the only parent that has lost it on their children, and I hope this helps someone else maybe going through the same thing.