Friday, May 29, 2015

The Day I Felt Like a Failure

The day seemed to start out like any other.  It was an ordinary Tuesday.  I woke up to Carter coming into our room with his daddy so Ty could say good bye and I could get up with Carter.  Looking back there were so many things working against us.  Carter had been sick over the weekend running a 101-102 degree temperature and hadn't slept in bed by himself since the Thursday before.  Elise caught whatever he had which made her clingier and fussier.  Add onto that Carter's already higher than usual maintenance due to not feeling up to par and I should have been prepared.  We didn't do much the day before since we were all tired and both kids weren't feeling very good.  We grocery shopped in the morning, Carter visited Uncie J while I took Elise to the doctor, we ate lunch, we napped, we went for a run, and played for a little while at the splash pad.  Carter had actually asked to go home while we were at the splash pad which has never happened before.
Our day started off with some peek-a-boo in the laundry hamper.

That morning things quickly took a turn for the worse.  Carter was jumping on our bed as I was getting dressed.  I told him to stop because it wasn't safe and he could land on sissy.  He stopped but then walked right over and stomped on her leg.  I took him to time out and then we talked about how he had hurt sissy, he apologized, kissed her leg, and made sure she was okay.  Then next thing I knew he was kicking Harper so again to time out.  Again the apologizing and making sure she was okay.  After my run I left Elise in her car seat because she was asleep and put her in the doorway while I showered so I could keep an eye on her.  She was still asleep when I got out of the shower so I left her.  Carter went over and started kissing her which was fine.  Then he stood up and started rocking the car seat with a vengeance.  I told him that was too rough and he didn't want to wake sissy because she'd cry and I'd have to get her out and we would be late to the park.  He looked right at me and started slapping at her.  So another time out.  It wasn't even 10:00 yet and he'd already been to time out 3 times.  We had a morning playdate at the park and I was hoping that would be exactly what he needed.  I figured he just needed to get outside and run off some energy.  Then he would go back to normal.  We were ready early so we headed out and played before our friends arrived.  Carter was having a blast, trying all the ladders and splashing in puddles since he was wearing his boots.

Our friends arrived and in retrospect he was already getting tired, but it didn't register at the time.  It was after 11:00 and he had woken up early and had a rough night of sleep on top of that.  He was playing nicely with his buddy Landon and then Landon ran off to play on some other equipment.  He wasn't being mean or leaving Carter out on purpose, he just wanted to climb a ladder he hadn't yet.  Carter ran after him screaming, "NO LANDY!!!!"  I reassured him it was okay and that Landon just wanted to try out the ladder.  Wish I would have stopped right there and realized it was probably time to go home.  Elise started crying because she was hungry so I pulled her out of her car seat in the stroller to nurse and put a cover up on.  As we walked back over to the equipment Carter approached a little girl probably around a year and half old.  He went to hug her, but she turned so he hugged her from the side, they got off balance and fell down.  With how it happened it looked like he had tackled her, but I knew what he had tried to do.  As I was reminding Carter to be gentle and going to help them up, her mom ran over and pulled her up giving me a dirty look and chastising Carter.  As they walked away he slapped at the girl.  I told him no and walked him over to sit for a time out.  That's when we for real should have packed up and gone home.  But did I pick up on that?  Unfortunately, no.  So we stayed and after a while of playing nicely Carter did the same thing to a little boy.  He hugged him, but for too long and too hard so they both fell down.  As they were getting up Carter slapped the boy in the head.  I took him to time out again and had him go apologize and check on the boy.  A little while later Carter asked to go home and I happily said good bye to the moms we had met there and loaded up to go home.

I had felt pretty good all morning and really refreshed after our run.  The incidents at the park hadn't really bothered me too much at the time.  But on the drive home I started thinking about it more and getting more and more upset.  Leave it to postpartum hormones and sleep deprivation to make your mind go to dark places.  I started wondering where I'd gone wrong as a parent that Carter felt it was okay to hit other children.  Then I started thinking about all the ways I had possibly failed him to make him feel that way.  By the time I got home I was close to tears because in my mind I had failed miserably as a parent by raising a child who would become a bully in school, being mean to other children and physically harming them.  I stood making his lunch, my mind still reeling, when he out of no where blurted out "Grandpa Eddie".  I stopped and stared at him, wondering how he knew exactly what to say.  My Gandpa Eddie was notoriously a jokester and was ornery as can be all through childhood and honestly somewhat in adulthood, but he turned out to be an amazing man.  The kind of person who touched the lives of many people around him.  People I'd never met but felt inclined to share stories of him to me after he had passed.  I felt much better and put Carter down for his nap with somewhat uplifted spirits.

When Carter woke up from his nap it started all over again.  The terrorizing Harper and not being gentle enough with Elise and I lost it.  I just sat down on the couch and cried.  Carter came over, sat next to me, looked right into my face and asked, "Mommy okay?"  I told him I was sad.  I was sad because he had been mean to me, to Harper, to friends at the playground, and to sissy.  He looked me right in the face and said, "I stop all of that."  Although I knew he wouldn't follow through with that promise, it was a sweet sentiment.  That evening when Ty walked in the door I couldn't help it, one look at him and I began crying all over again.  I was exhausted.  I was tired of the time outs, of the hitting, of the kicking, of Elise's constant need to be held.  I wanted the day to be over.  I wanted to start over again.  I wanted Carter back to his normal self.  It had been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  I felt like a failure as a parent.  The time outs weren't working.  Talking wasn't working.  I just wasn't getting through to my son.  After Carter went to bed Ty and I had a long talk.  We came to the conclusion that Carter was overtired, jealous, and needed attention.  We realized I should have left the park after Carter's incident with the first little girl.  I shouldn't have stayed letting it spiral out of control.  In my heart I knew it was just a bad day, but I couldn't help feeling worthless.  I cried more times than I'd like to admit.
I walked in to find Carter consoling Elise later in the day which almost made up for how mean he'd been to her earlier.

That day I was convinced I was a failure as a parent.  I had gone horribly wrong and ruined my perfect angel baby.  While having a conversation with my dad I told him I felt like a failure as a parent and he responded with, "And it won't be the last time."  Parenting can be hard.  Both babies were sick which meant I wasn't getting enough sleep.  I was tired, hormonal, and stressed out.  In my head I thought, "Maybe Carter would be better off going to daycare all day because I'm such a worthless parent."  Then I remembered having that thought before when Carter was around 2-3 months old.  I had set him in a laundry basket on the counter while I put away some folded laundry and it tipped over, spilling him out.  I remembered thinking, "Carter will be better off at daycare, at least they won't almost kill him."  When I remembered that thought I realized this day wasn't the first time I'd felt like a failure and as my dad pointed out, I know it won't be the last.  But I'll keep going and doing the best I can because I love my precious children more than can be described.  Although my day was terrible and I wished I could forget it ever happened, I was glad it reminded me not to put too much weight on just one day.  You can't measure anything in just one day and I shouldn't have made large generalizations about Carter's behavior and future based on a bad day.  Thank goodness we got to wake up and start over the following day!  


  1. Oh my gosh! You described my life! It is so hard not to feel like a failure when you see your child demonstrate behaviors that are so opposite of what you try to emulate! Liam's been going through a terrible time lately, too. I read somewhere that kids go through leaps at their birthdays and half birthdays. So maybe since they're approaching 2.5, they're just going through a leap? Hang in there though! And know Carter isn't the only one being rough with his sibling and dog!

    1. Oh girl, let's just say it's the age! Thank you, it helps to know I'm not the only one.