MOTHERHOOD

It’s Not Always Peace and Love…

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Last week was one of those weeks. One of those weeks where I call my husband up on the phone barely managing to maintain my composure (I didn’t maintain it for very long) while I unload  overwhelmed, end-of-my-rope feelings about being the mother of my two little girls. I felt like it had been escalating for the last few weeks–the bickering between them; the short, grumpy tones that I had no idea they could use; the lazy response to me asking them to do something. I felt like I was losing control, running out of my mother-ammo (if you don’t _______, then _______ will happen). It was just like that commercial with the invisible mother–folding laundry, making dinner. I was feeling a bit invisible when it came to my children, as if I was no longer speaking a language they could understand, or as if I was talking to them from inside a plastic tub, so that all they heard was muffled sounds coming from across the room.
And the bickering. One morning I actually thought, if only I had referee stripes and a whistle. That would be perfect for me! I can’t tell you how many times I heard, "not fair!", "I had that first!", and witnessed toy tug-of-war and pushing and shoving. Where the heck was this coming from? ….sometimes I ignored it, sometimes I got involved too soon. Ugh.
So, enough of the gory details. I’m sure all of us can relate. At least I sure hope so. Or else I’m going to start panicking about my parenting skills.
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When I got off the phone with Dan that day last week, he said one of the most important things I needed to hear: "Molly, you’ve got the hardest job in the world." That helped. It gave me a big breath of new air in my lungs. I hung up the phone, cleaned up my mascara smears and came back into the room with the girls. As I looked across the room, something caught my attention–the television.
I quietly unplugged it, carried it into the closet, came back for the DVD player, wound up the cord and carried it back to the closet too. The girls watched quietly, too. "Mommy’s throwing away the TV, Mary." I told them I wasn’t throwing it away, just putting it away until things got a little more peaceful around the house. Until everyone treated each other more kindly and was more helpful and caring toward each other. And let me tell you–it’s working. It’s working really well.
Now for the record, I’m not anti-television. I have some opinions about it, and I question whether the medium of television can really be educational, but I’m not the type to look down on anyone for popping in a video or turning on PBS in order to get 30 minutes of peace. In fact, I was scared to death to lock up my television, worried that I’d never get dinner made or a blog read ever again.
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For my children, it seems like the TV is a vacuum. It sucks them in and they can’t pull away. If it had a hose, they’d probably have dark purple,  circular suction-bruises in the center of their foreheads. (don’t we all know someone who’s done that?) And before I know it, they’ve been sitting, fogged over, in front of it  longer than I care to admit. And when it’s not on, all they whine for is when it will be turned on again.
This is the second time I’ve "locked up" the TV, and both times I’ve been amazed at the results–the immediate results. Our home has become so much more peaceful. And I’m getting more quiet, peaceful time than I could have imagined. They’re quickly finding things to do, and do together–which I love. Granted it might mean bigger messes because every pillow in the house is on the living room floor or blankets have been removed from all the beds to build a clubhouse, but gosh, I love it. It’s the peace of play. And that was missing in our little lives.

**if you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. I write this to remind myself of the before, the why and the how it’s working. And I also write it to catch up with you all–my blogging friends. If we were out for coffee together, I’m sure this is what I’d need to unload. Thanks for staying to the end….
Oh, and the pictures:  just a few little things I catch them doing "tv-less" and things we’re doing together–like painting those cute little fingernails the faintest shade of glittery pink…***

P1010008_5
Last week was one of those weeks. One of those weeks where I call my husband up on the phone barely managing to maintain my composure (I didn’t maintain it for very long) while I unload  overwhelmed, end-of-my-rope feelings about being the mother of my two little girls. I felt like it had been escalating for the last few weeks–the bickering between them; the short, grumpy tones that I had no idea they could use; the lazy response to me asking them to do something. I felt like I was losing control, running out of my mother-ammo (if you don’t _______, then _______ will happen). It was just like that commercial with the invisible mother–folding laundry, making dinner. I was feeling a bit invisible when it came to my children, as if I was no longer speaking a language they could understand, or as if I was talking to them from inside a plastic tub, so that all they heard was muffled sounds coming from across the room.
And the bickering. One morning I actually thought, if only I had referee stripes and a whistle. That would be perfect for me! I can’t tell you how many times I heard, "not fair!", "I had that first!", and witnessed toy tug-of-war and pushing and shoving. Where the heck was this coming from? ….sometimes I ignored it, sometimes I got involved too soon. Ugh.
So, enough of the gory details. I’m sure all of us can relate. At least I sure hope so. Or else I’m going to start panicking about my parenting skills.
P1010004_6
When I got off the phone with Dan that day last week, he said one of the most important things I needed to hear: "Molly, you’ve got the hardest job in the world." That helped. It gave me a big breath of new air in my lungs. I hung up the phone, cleaned up my mascara smears and came back into the room with the girls. As I looked across the room, something caught my attention–the television.
I quietly unplugged it, carried it into the closet, came back for the DVD player, wound up the cord and carried it back to the closet too. The girls watched quietly, too. "Mommy’s throwing away the TV, Mary." I told them I wasn’t throwing it away, just putting it away until things got a little more peaceful around the house. Until everyone treated each other more kindly and was more helpful and caring toward each other. And let me tell you–it’s working. It’s working really well.
Now for the record, I’m not anti-television. I have some opinions about it, and I question whether the medium of television can really be educational, but I’m not the type to look down on anyone for popping in a video or turning on PBS in order to get 30 minutes of peace. In fact, I was scared to death to lock up my television, worried that I’d never get dinner made or a blog read ever again.
P1010018_4

For my children, it seems like the TV is a vacuum. It sucks them in and they can’t pull away. If it had a hose, they’d probably have dark purple,  circular suction-bruises in the center of their foreheads. (don’t we all know someone who’s done that?) And before I know it, they’ve been sitting, fogged over, in front of it  longer than I care to admit. And when it’s not on, all they whine for is when it will be turned on again.
This is the second time I’ve "locked up" the TV, and both times I’ve been amazed at the results–the immediate results. Our home has become so much more peaceful. And I’m getting more quiet, peaceful time than I could have imagined. They’re quickly finding things to do, and do together–which I love. Granted it might mean bigger messes because every pillow in the house is on the living room floor or blankets have been removed from all the beds to build a clubhouse, but gosh, I love it. It’s the peace of play. And that was missing in our little lives.

**if you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. I write this to remind myself of the before, the why and the how it’s working. And I also write it to catch up with you all–my blogging friends. If we were out for coffee together, I’m sure this is what I’d need to unload. Thanks for staying to the end….
Oh, and the pictures:  just a few little things I catch them doing "tv-less" and things we’re doing together–like painting those cute little fingernails the faintest shade of glittery pink…***

42 comments on “It’s Not Always Peace and Love…”

  1. there are many a day where I completely consider not having a tv. I didn’t have one growing up, so I know its possible to do it, but then I like to watch tv, and I don’t have the strength to just throw it out. hmmmmmmmm, what to do. Oh well, I just wanted to tell you I feel your pain on MANY fronts….wait till your precious BABY starts in with the older ones….journey is just as much a part of the problem as the others now…ACK!!!!!!

  2. Oh what I would give to hear an actual “that’s mine” or “not fair” instead of the ear shattering scream that drowns out everything else in this house (including the sister she’s fighting with, the tv, my own thoughs, or the littlest one).

  3. i love that entry. i have no tv and only one child. but for us it’s the same with sweets. if i lock up the sweets (or throw them away) it’s more peaceful around here. evil drugs those are (sweets and tv) 😉

    you do a great job as mom!

  4. I think we all have those weeks. Last week was a tough one for me as well. Colds + teething + bad weather = chaos.

    Even though my boys never watched a lot of television, I decided to pull the plug completely 6 months ago. It was a great decision for our family. The house is definitely more peaceful.

  5. Well done – what a great idea! There’s definitely more ‘positive’ peace when our tv is off – kids ‘drugged’ by the tv may be pretty quiet, but it’s not peaceful.

  6. oh the bickering! boys do it too, sometimes violently (i find myself saying “get OFF your little sister” far too often!)isn’t it amazing what tv does to them? my mother still idolises the mother of one of my school friends who smashed their tv with a cricket bat and that was the end of that. a bit extreme perhaps? that’s what cupboards are good for, locking stuff up in.i hope your peace sticks around for a while.

  7. I’ve said before that I feel we have parallel lives! We are having a week ban on tv (can’t physically move it..nowhere to put it!) and the kids are calmer and different. They have to play and sort themselves out without one resorting to the tv to defer the tension. They love musicals and documentaries and i wouldn’t want to limit any of that, but a week without Annie and West Side Story is improving their debating skills!I too have rung DH with THAT phonecall and luckily he has assured me that life at the coal face is not an easy ride.Take care….xx

  8. Trust me I get it. I’m not anti-TV either in fact I hope to work in TV/Film someday but my daughter seems to be pulled by the same vacum. Couple that with her incredible memory and she can spit back all that she watches which lead to the elimination of the Disney channel and their pre-teen romance drama ;). When we do watch it’s movies that I have seen before hand and Food network. My husband found the chef jacket and hat and I found the plastic foods, plates, etc… Much better than what happened after watching Disney channel.

  9. OOh it’s like if I were reading my story LOL Sometimes,… well really often… I need to hide the remote control to hear silence and peace here LOL I understand you sooooooooooooo well 🙂 BTW I hope you’re fine and your pregnancy too 🙂 Tons of hugs ! I’m impatient to have your news

  10. I could live without the tv, infact i don’t watch it except for ER when it’s on and my husband watches DVD’s. I think i may try limiting the girls tv viewing to playschool in the am and pm and 1 dvd. Let’s see how long i last before i give in.

  11. Good for you! Children who know how to entertain themselves can go anywhere in the world and find something for themselves. What a gift you have given to yourself and your daughters! Keep up the good work!

  12. Hope the peace stays for sometime but as I mom and probably like every other mom, I do know what you mean and feel. I remember I had a major break down when my 2 oldest were little. There was crying and fighting and we were stressed. I just went outside and I cried so hard while my kids looked from inside the house crying for me. I never want to go back to that but I do agree there is something about a TV that turns kids into sort of like little monsters.

  13. Oh sweetgirl – anyone with children, we’ve all been there. I’ve only got the one kid, and I’ve still been there. Kudos to Dan for being brilliant, and saying the only possible “right thing” to say at that time…

    And kudos to you, for the success of your TV TimeOut! I hope things stay merry and bright for the rest of the season….

  14. first off, yes i know exactly what you mean, i need a whistle too. second you wear mascara?? wow. i never get that far. third, i need to do this. i am scared to do this, is there a way to make it just for mom & dad? if only it would fit in our room… ps. you know you can talk about anything here. it is your blog, remember!

  15. Molly – it is the hardest job. I need to be reminded of that sometimes too. And having two girls close in age, while mostly delightful, is sometimes really difficult.

    And, wow, I am impressed by the TV lock-up. Good for you. I am going to remember that for next time I am about to lose it!

  16. Mama is very difficult job sometimes! I’m glad your husband sees that, too – just that is such a help.

    Good idea with the TV — it sounds like it is working. I’m not anti-TV either, but we really try not to have it on much. I like quiet!

  17. Thank you for your post. I totally agree with all you have said. At age 4, I have already had to explain to my daughter that TV is something she is allowed to do SOMETIMES. It is not an automatic given that she is allowed to watch every day. And I will say that she is much more pleasant when we have already determined that today is NOT the day to watch any TV. Even though she has no siblings to play with, it is remarkable what she can find to do on her own during those times when I must make dinner or finish a large task. Teaching her to use her mind and her imagination is much more important than learning a new song from TV.

    Take care…you sound like a great Mom to me 😉

  18. I think this is one of my favorite of your posts so far. Motherhood is very hard work, and sometimes feels like it’s more than we can handle. I feel like I have the 1 or 2 hours in day when Henry is napping to get EVERYTHING done, and when those naps are short- I get a little cranky. I feel like I never get anything done. Anyway, right now he’s our first and is only 18 months- so no bickering yet (I’m sure my day will come)but yes, I need to limit the TV- he’s not glued to it, it’s usually just a few glances here & there, he’s mostly obsessed with playing with his trains, but I do agree with a lot of what you said. Thanks so much for sharing. (this is my longest comment-EVER!) Sorry!

  19. i am certain thatanyone who has more thanone child can relateto what you have written here…my own are 7 and 11and some dayscan be bickering for hours…this summer i threatenedthem with the task ofwriting “i will not fightwith my brother/sister”50 times the next timei caught them fighting…that usually workedquite nicely…heehee…:)and kudos to your husbandfor saying just the rightthing at just the right time!

  20. I know what you mean…and I only have one tot! You know we can all relate. sigh.We don’t have the tv on much around here- 30 min. of PBS is about it.I hope you are having a peaceful week and feeling better.

  21. How does the television do that? And then how do I forget that it does?

    We have all had those days, and yes, there are no harder jobs. But no more important or rewarding ones either.

    You are a great mommy. And how I wish there were a “Patience and Kindness in a Bottle” magic spray.

  22. If only I could actually go a whole week without that feeling! (Of course, my son is rather ‘special needs’, but still…I still feel like a HORRIBLE mother.) Go read my BlogSmith blog (http://lorilaurielauri.blogspot.com) You’ll find plenty of those kinds of posts! You are definitely not the only one!

    My husband always knows what to say, also. Thank goodness for those keepers! lol!

    The thing about the TV though…it’s so funny…when just Claire and I are home, it’s rarely on. But, if Ethan is home, at least one TV is on…but he rarely watches it! He just has to have the background noise I guess. And he can tell from across the house if I have turned one off…it’s so weird! lol!

  23. OH I can so relate, it is weird I could have wrote this. Except the putting the tv away part, but I’ve serously thought about it, I think it is making them wild and mean to each other, and it’s deffiently turning them into couch potatoes. Your such a good mom to put it away, I think when John goes back to work on Friday I’m going to make a few changes around here, #1 being less tv.

  24. Molly this is just a fantastic post, you have such a way with words. The one thing we probably argue with the kids most about is the TV. We have always tried to keep a tight reign on it (there are other families we know that do not and it gets out of hand fast!), and if the scales start tipping to much on the TV side, my kids are always whinier because of it. They ask me why its bad. I say because you’re not using your brain or you body, which is not good. That usually gives them enough to consider and think about (although they aren’t happy about it). You’re doing the right thing, its like a drug. xo

  25. We have lived without a tv for 8 years now and are still immensely happy with our decision to boot it.The children have never known any other household than this, so they never complain about it. I’m absolutely sure they play and craft more this way.For us, it has given us so much more time and opportunity to do other things like reading, crafting and blogging, we wouldn’t want to miss that 😉

    Hope your girls continue their “peacefulness”, so you can have a bit of a break!

  26. I’ve been there…except that I have 2 boys and now a little girl, too. Not that you need any more advice, but sometimes when my boys are particularly argumentative, I make them play in separate rooms. When they can play together again, they seem to appreciate each other a lot more. We struggle with the TV thing as well.

  27. I rarely get a chance to comment on any blogs I read because of these same reasons. As-a-matter-of-fact I have a little one sitting next to me asking me 3 questions of which I only have the answer to 1. Quiet time is relished in this house. 🙂 Great post!

  28. Good for you!! Those girls have a great Mom!!! I have so been having one of these same periods lately. And it is the nastiness and bickering that gets to me the most–and the whining of my 3 yr old after the fact. As an only child, I just don’t understand it or have a clue what level is “normal” and what is not. I just know that I hate it and don’t want it in our home! Is it too much to ask your children to be sweet to each other all the time?? Isn’t that how we expect they treat others?? Anyway, I’m super proud of you for hanging in there and extra kudos need to be given to that wonderful husband of yours whose wisdom is astounding 😉 Keep up the good work, sista!

  29. If you lived in Boulder, Colorado I would take you out for coffee any day and let your kids play with mine and let you unload. I feel the same way sometimes especially when I don’t get as much support from my husband as I think I should. We do have the hardest job in the world and we sometimes crave adult interaction for geez, at least an hour of our day! You made a wise decision with the t.v.! I’m new to your blog by the way. I love a person who is honest and likes to talk. We all need to talk (or blog). I don’t have a blog anymore because I frankly have no time for myself, blogging, painting, crafting, reading- all that has gone out the window for me for now. I will someday soon take back my life and enjoy some ME time. Keep up the most precious work in the world… being a mom!

  30. Trust your instincts!

    I had to get rid of my tv years ago. I was the one who would get sucked in… life has been so much better since (though all my cultural references are now 10 years out of date lol!)

  31. Hope you’re feeling better, sweetie. We’ve all been there, and I seem to have been there more recently…keep you chin up. I’m feeling good, thanks for asking!

  32. I am a so-far comment-less reader of your blog– but I had to write here– because your post really touched me– mainly with its perception– that the amusement that TV can produce for a few minutes is not akin to peace. You have really made me think about real peace, and how to foster it in a bigger sense than a few minutes of quiet to take a bath, but in the way we are with each other in our home.

    We had already cut back to a set of rabbit ears that gives us a couple of pbs channels and not much else, but you have me thinking. . .

    Thanks fot your lovely blog!

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