Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Pride and Joy

Not exactly what I had in mind.
My oldest daughter Thumbelina - my pride and joy - is turning me into a bonafide cookoo bird.  This is a bad week.  That means we can barely exchange three sentences without one of us using The Dreaded Tone.  For a few minutes, we might be fine.  Then I’ll ask her to put on her shoes or suggest she turn down the TV, and I’ll be greeted with eye rolling and foot stomping and sighs so loud they make my ears bleed and my blood boil. 

There’s also crying.  For the love of all that’s holy, please stop crying.  I know that I must be the meanest mommy in the history of ever but I cannot take one more tearful, whiny flip-out over something like your water bottle being left at school or not letting you wear your Christmas dress to church in May.

Here’s how it works:  she does something slightly obnoxious that sets me off (taking 40 minutes to get dressed in the morning, for example.)  And instead of taking a deep breath and being all June Cleaver-y or Paltrow-y or some other reasonable standard of maternal perfection, I react badly.  About half the time I totally lose my schmidt. And if I don’t yell at her, I end up using that horrible I’m-not-actually-yelling-at-you-but-I'm-evil-and-scary voice that fools no one and probably leaves deep emotional scars. 

And then of course the conflict escalates and everything blows up into a million flying shards of crap.

I don’t understand.  She’s about to turn 8.  How can someone this young have such an advanced case of PMS?  I have no idea how.  But each morning she arrives sullenly in the kitchen in a vintage 1951 snit and begins acting like a turd blossom.  But that’s not the worst part.  The worst part is that her tone, her snide words, her Hair Trigger Bitch Syndrome – they’re all my fault

All the parts of this girl that drive me crazy are the ones she inherited directly from me; the aspects of my own personality that I can’t stand.  I used to think the worst thing in the world would be that I would to turn into my mother. I was an idiot.  I should be so lucky.  Now I know the worst thing in the world is for my daughter to turn into me.

I think it’s because she’s my first.  Being the oldest kid is both a blessing and a curse.  On the one hand, she gets to do more and have more. (By contrast, the only new thing the youngest one has gotten was her own placenta, and that was soooo in utero.)  On the other hand, my expectations for Thumbelina's behavior are probably not fair.  I unreasonably expect her to be good all the time.  And of course, no one can do that.

As my husband has reminded me on more than one occasion, I’m much harder on her than I am on the younger kids.  We could discuss that little tidbit more, but it’s a whole other post. I mean he’s right, but I still want to throat punch him WWE-style when he points it out.

Many of my mom friends claim they have similar issues with their oldests.  Which always surprises me. Because I think of these kids (the ones they claim are driving them to drink before Oprah is even over) as being amazing.  When I tell them that, they just shake their heads.

I should get it.  I mean, I hear from people all the time how great my daughter is.  Her teachers tell me she is smart, good-hearted, polite and kind.  And honestly, hearing that on a week like this… I don’t know whether to laugh or cry or just blurt out the truth:

“Thanks you so much!  I work really hard at maintaining the illusion that we’re a nice family.”

Things get better. Then they get worse. I try to be a good mom, but I fall short every day.  And it sucks.  And the next day I wake up, shake it off and try again. I guess the key is to never stop trying.  I'm so aware recently of how quickly she is growing up.  Of how hard things will be when she is a teenager . . . or possibly worse, a tweener.  And how little time I have left before she stops wanting her mommy to be by her side. I need to try harder not to yell.  To be a little more patient.  To remember that even though she’s the biggest, she’s still little.

That's how we roll, bitches.
I wonder how many more years she will want to snuggle on my lap and watch TV? Or read stories with me? Or demand hugs and kisses before bedtime? I’m terrified of losing her. Every time she opens her fresh mouth or rolls her eyes at me, I feel her slipping farther away.  I know the moment will come when she'll cease to be mine and start to be her own. And I know that’s as it should be.  

But the process of helping her get there is terrifying.  I want my sweet little girl back.  I want to go back to when it was all less complicated.  But I love her no matter what and too much to ever stop trying.  Even if she turns out like me, with a hereditary case of Hair Trigger Bitch Syndrome and vintage 1951 snit.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

74 comments:

  1. You could not have said this better and I can so relate! My oldest is 7 and I feel as though you are describing our interactions. The not yelling but evil and scary voice- yup she comes out on an almost daily basis lately.Thanks for making me feel a little less horrible! xoxo

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  2. It's the mother's revenge, having one that's terrifying in all the ways you were. Everyone has one, whether they know it or not. And someday she will think of you, realize "I should be so lucky" when she has her own terrifying child and is searching for mothering answers. I'm sure she's a good girl and you will see you did well once those terrible tweens hit and she's coming to you for everything :)

    My oldest is about to turn 7 and he's an angel. One day he won't want to crawl into bed with me in the morning. I try to remember to be thankful for the days he does, but sometimes I am not in the mood! It happens. You get the guilt, you try harder, you mess up again, you move on. That's motherhood for ya.

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  3. Wow, I mean just wow. I have a 7.5 yo oldest son of two and I could've written this post. He is suer-sensitive and seems to have a hair-trigger angry button but other than gender everything you wrote rings true for me. Even the not-yelling, snarly mean voice. So I really feel for you. Please know that just the other week I was thinking all these things and (in addition to my husband having some talks with him about respect), I also started toning it down and realized he was just looking for more of my attention. Well, it worked. I yell a lot less and he acts up a lot less.

    Keep up the good work and even though it may feel like you suck know that you don't. I think you are awesome!

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  4. Fellow mama of an 8 year old oldest girl here. Man, do I hear you.

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  5. Did you just read my mind about my 7 year old daughter and I, and she's adopted so there's no way she inherited it. You have me all teary-eyed. I'm glad I'm not alone.

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  6. As a mother of a 2.5 year-old boy and a 1 year-old girl, I am terrified of the days you are talking about. The days when they start to pull away from you. I know it is a ways off for me, but given how quickly the last couple years have gone I know it will fly by.

    Thank you for being so wonderfully honest!

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  7. I was that girl to my wonderful mom- she was a single mom with 4 kids and all the struggles that come with it. I always made her miserable and I cringe when I think about it. I also naively think my 3 boys won't do that to me. But now my mom and I have a great relationship and she never fails to tell me how great I am - and to remind me that my kids really aren't trying to make me lose it - but that they are kids and it's not that easy! One thing she would do with us as kids was to take us out one on one for dinner once a month. We got to pick the restaurant and get whatever we wanted and maybe if we were lucky buy a new book or shirt or something. Those once-every-four-months dinners are still some of my favorite memories. I don't know how my mom swung it (we were THAT poor) but even if we were driving her absolutely nuts (like keeping a baby fox in the basement or trying to hide a stray cat in our bathroom) we still got our night out and it always brought us a little closer for just a few days. Sometimes the oldest just need to call the shots a little and know they are being heard - hard to remember at the moment but worth repeating during our rare moments of clarity!

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  8. It is so scary when you hear your own words and see your own attitude coming back at you. My 3yo just started adding 'right now' to the end of requests in MY scary mommy voice. Whuck?! What happened to 'please'? I know it's going to get sooo much worse, too. Thanks for your honesty on the subject.
    p.s. The placenta line made me snort!

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  9. So, um, not to revel in your struggle or anything . . . But I am so glad you wrote this post. I only have a frickin' 3 year-old and I can relate. I love love love your blog and I love it even more bc it occasionally has posts like this. Thanks for helping me feel less alone in my struggles.

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  10. Oh thank you!
    I have an 9 year old BOY who is the same way. I have, on occasion, threatened to give him midol. How long does PMS last on a boy anyway?

    All we can do is the best we can. You're doing it!

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  11. Ack! You made me cry. This is my 6 year old and me. She just turned 6 and it's make me so happy/sad to see her growing up too quickly.

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  12. Oh my word. My oldest is 8 and I can relate to every single thing in this post.

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  13. So with you, have been having similar struggle with nine year old son. Thank god for friends who are having same struggle and are willing to share how hard it is.

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  14. Headmistress YcaMay 18, 2011 at 8:21 AM

    My son is 11.5 and daily interactions with him usually require the United Nations to intervene. Part of it is that he's ASD, and there are many unique challenges that come along with that. But, I lose it. A lot. I struggle with my own issues, too, and sometimes our issues clash. The rolling eyes and the sarcasm gets so very ugly and out of hand. I'm not sure he'll live to see 16. Can we start a defense fund? *sigh*

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  15. Thanks for the post. You have an awesome way with words! I am so much harder on my oldest than my youngest. I justify it because he is 5 and she is only 17 months, but I do expect more from him (and have his whole life!). I love your line about the "illusion that we are a nice family"! So, so true.

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  16. Oh my god. We are raising the same child. My daughter will be 8 in July and I have been wondering where this teenager-like attitude has come from for about 6 months or so. The whining, the door slamming, the "whatever" remarks that fly at me when I ask her to do something besides watch tv or torture her little brothers. I asked her doctor and he said, prepare yourself girls... it may be the beginning stages of her getting her PERIOD. Yes. I'm frightened for my family if this is supposed to be an early version of her PMS.

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  17. Everything you said is so true and it is very accurate that there is a vortex around the oldest child that the rest of the family swirls around. So, it's understandable that when she's in a bad mood, so would you be. Stand strong moms though because the fact that our kids can roll their eyes and use the tone on us is good, they are figuring out their place in the world and where better than in the comfort of their own home and with the person they love most! It is truly a blessing to have an "Inside Devil and an Outside Angel" because imagine how awful it would be if it was the other way around and you only saw the good and everyone else got the bad..... There is an awesome book series by Ames and Ig, something like "Your 8 Year Old" - there's one for every age. They talk about that kids are in a constant state of equilibrium/disequilibrium and the only way they can grow is to get off kilter, then rise above it to the next level of maturity. Mine used to have the disequilibrium at his half year bday, maybe yours is just before she has her bday. Try to remember the more steady you are the more secure they feel and it helps them progress through each emotional stage. And thanks for being there for us moms cus it's a hard job and not a lot of verification that we're being successful, but we are - it's so nice to have this network. I wish I had it when mine were young and I struggled thru in isolation.

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  18. Thank you! I needed these reminders, too.

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  19. Wow, I see this as my future already and my oldest is only 3 1/2 and her sibling is still a few months away. Already at 3 (going on 16) she argues with absolutely anything I say that doesn't have absolute sound logic-that she can understand-to back it up. She never takes you at your word for a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g.(It took me 6 months to convince her there is a difference between dragons and dinosaurs and I am pretty sure she is already doubting the validity of Santa and the Easter Bunny) The worst is that is a trait she absolutely got from me. My dad is a lawyer and he gave up taking me on in any debate when I was about 8 and it looks like I am about to get my just desserts....

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  20. DAMMIT LYDIA! You are not allowed to make me cry in the morning...
    I am blessed that my oldest is older than 7 and still wants to hold my hand and hug me...but I know it is ending and _everytime_ I growl at her I want to say "I'm sorry! Let's have a tea party and play dress up, please?"

    Oh and the nice family line...yeah...I'm stealing that...
    LOVE YOU *BIGG HUGGS*

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  21. Loved your post today~but I always do! My "baby" is now 15 years old and I live in the land of Rolling Eyes, in Fresh Mouth, City. I thought you might appreciate this little tune(my apologies if you, like me, cry most of the way through it).
    Even though you are not quite "there" yet with your oldest, You'll be in "this place" sooner than you can even imagine. Savor those snuggles, hugs & kisses...
    http://youtu.be/yqXr3l8lrPs

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  22. How did you get inside my house and my head? I have the same almost-8 year old. She has fulfilled my mother's curse on me...you know the "when you are a mother, I hope you have a daughter JUST LIKE YOU!" one. I start off every morning praying for patience with her. If I'm lucky, I make it through breakfast. What's worse is that all of those just-like-me behaviors drive my husband crazy and make me wonder how he doesn't see those same things in me. Or maybe he does and he loves me anyway. Which makes it all ok because if my daughter finds someone like her daddy to love all of these same parts of her, she will be one lucky girl.

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  23. Girlfriend, try to imagine that the turd blossom and all of the snitty, snide hair trigger behavior, complete with crying screaming and foot stomping is coming from your stepdaughter. That's my life. I get all the obnoxiousness and none of the hugs or snuggles and good stuff. Being a stepmom at this stage sucks big hairy donkey balls.

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  24. Oh you are not alone! I have 11-yr-old twin boys, a 10-yr-old girl and an almost 2-yr-old boy.... It's SO true! Sometimes, though, I think my daughter gets it a little worse.... I expect the responsibility from all three of the oldest, but sometimes I catch myself being so hard on her, because she scares me. Not in the "she's a bad kid" sense... in the "she's so friendly and worried about everyone else *before* herself" sense. So I worry about her being hurt by putting everyone else first (could be I've been there....) AND I have to worry about all the potential wackos out there, too. Oh and the fits and tantrums *sigh* I won't say I wasn't a PITA, but I didn't get that far into it until I was 13 or so, she's been this way - well, forever. And still she has those moments of sweetness. I think girls drain us (mommies) more emotionally, the boys have their own problems, but those girls - OY!
    And yep, every day, I think of all the ways I suck at being a mom, the yelling, or the frustration that isn't really justified because they ARE just kids. Funny how we expect more of our own kids than we do of others.
    Thanks for the wake-up call. I needed the reminder that we all struggle with this job sometimes. :)

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  25. I have a just turned 8yo girl and I think that the over emotional dramatic crap must be pretty normal - insane making, but normal. I also completely relate to having unreasonable expectations for my oldest - I do it too and I have to work very hard to curb that so she doesn't grow up to be completely neurotic.

    One thing I want to share that has been VERY effective in helping my children and I when we get into what I call the "downward spiral" cycle [ie: they act like rats and I over react and get all bitchy and then it gets worse... tit for tat until life sucks]. What I do when I realize we are there is STOP - I make sure that I take time every single day to sit down on the couch and hold them, snuggle, do nothing but talk, tickle, and giggle. I'll do that for a week or so [I should do it every day, actually, but life so often gets in the way]. I take a half hour to focus on JUST BEING with my amazing child. Nothing negative is said during this time - even though at first they are often still in little bitch mode in the beginning and I might want to do something like scream and storm off to goof around on facebook - instead I stay put and be positive. Anyway, these little "love sessions" seem to really pay off for us - after a day or two of that, behavior improves dramatically [for BOTH of us]. It is now my "cure all" remedy for children acting like brats and mommy acting like a screamig nut case.

    On other thing I do when we get to that downward cycle phase is try to concentrate on saying at least 5 positive things to my child for every 1 negative thing - I force myself to pay attention and notice what they are doing RIGHT [and sometimes I may be stretching: "gee honey, you did a really good job picking out matching socks today". lol!]. But the point is to make sure that my child realizes that I do feel positively about them and that everything I have to say is not some negative criticism. [and it helps me to remember that even when they are at an obnoxious stage, they are still doing a *whole lot* right, I just have to take the time to notice. ]

    Good luck! This stage is tough, no doubt about it :(

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  26. I have a just turned 8yo girl and I think that the over emotional dramatic crap must be pretty normal - insane making, but normal. I also completely relate to having unreasonable expectations for my oldest - I do it too and I have to work very hard to curb that so she doesn't grow up to be completely neurotic.

    One thing I want to share that has been VERY effective in helping my children and I when we get into what I call the "downward spiral" cycle [ie: they act like rats and I over react and get all bitchy and then it gets worse... tit for tat until life sucks]. What I do when I realize we are there is STOP - I make sure that I take time every single day to sit down on the couch and hold them, snuggle, do nothing but talk, tickle, and giggle. I'll do that for a week or so [I should do it every day, actually, but life so often gets in the way]. I take a half hour to focus on JUST BEING with my amazing child. Nothing negative is said during this time - even though at first they are often still in little bitch mode in the beginning and I might want to do something like scream and storm off to goof around on facebook - instead I stay put and be positive. Anyway, these little "love sessions" seem to really pay off for us - after a day or two of that, behavior improves dramatically [for BOTH of us]. It is now my "cure all" remedy for children acting like brats and mommy acting like a screamig nut case.

    On other thing I do when we get to that downward cycle phase is try to concentrate on saying at least 5 positive things to my child for every 1 negative thing - I force myself to pay attention and notice what they are doing RIGHT [and sometimes I may be stretching: "gee honey, you did a really good job picking out matching socks today". lol!]. But the point is to make sure that my child realizes that I do feel positively about them and that everything I have to say is not some negative criticism. [and it helps me to remember that even when they are at an obnoxious stage, they are still doing a *whole lot* right, I just have to take the time to notice. ]

    Good luck! This stage is tough, no doubt about it :(

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  27. O. M. G. That is my daughter already and she only just turned 5! I am SO guilty of that not-yelling-but-sinister voice and that only makes her whine/cry even more. But I feel like even when I try to have a sweet tone with her she just doesn't stop - or maybe I am imagining things, maybe I only talk kindly in my head or maybe it's such a short blink-and-miss moment and I go straight to Villainous.

    In any case, thank you for writing this post and reminding me that I should work to keep her close while she still wants to be. I can't even think about 5-8 years from now; I will break into sobs, LOL.

    Just remember that the fact you even recognize this about yourself makes you an awesome mom. ;)

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  28. I can also relate. My oldest is now almost ten and a full on tween :0 Although, ages 6-8 were worse than now. I think she was adjusting to being a big kid and not a little kid and was VERY emotional. She has stabled out a bit, probably to prepare me for the dreaded arrival of puberty. I get you with the crying,though, holy moses, not everything is that serious.

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  29. Yikes, sounds like my daughter, she started the smart mouthin' around 8, but there is hope, she is now 10 and she still loves to sit with me on the sofa and cuddle, so somewhere in there is still that little angel, and then blast, on the other hand inside is a young wildebeast. It's a mixed pot.

    Fantastic post!

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  30. Can you please take your cameras out of my house? Thanks.

    No seriously, my daughter (my one and only) just turned 8 last week and believe me when I tell you that I could have written this post. I get it all. The eye rolling, the stomping, the hair trigger bitch syndrome and let's not forget the attitude worthy of a sixteen year old! Ugh! And she's pretty much great for everyone but me. It sucks. I'm already looking forward to 9.

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  31. Thank you, as always for telling the truth about raising kids. We love them so much. But they are very, very, very HARD WORK!

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  32. i read somewhere that children always act out where they're most comfortable. that's why monsters at daycare are usually suspected of something horrible going on at home, like a divorce, or a lack of t boxes. . .

    thank you for reminding me again and again that i'm not alone in wondering if mommy gwar voice-the one that sounds like you're joining a mommy death metal band-or wanting to throat punch your hubby for being so helpful with his suggestions is normal. love aims

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  33. I have some cups that say "As far as anyone knows, we are a nice normal family." And I feel like that most days!!!

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  34. Bless you. I'm close to tears because this is exactly what is happening at my house everyday. Thank you for constantly reminding me that there are other moms who feel the same way I do.

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  35. Oh even Yesser!!! I am so glad to know I am not the only one out there who feels like a schmuck mom when my 8 1/2 year old gets the best of me.

    (And how appropriate that my verification word was comytist??????)

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  36. i LOVE this blog! Are you guys spying on me 'cause this is how my son and I interact all the time. Do boys inherit the Hair-trigger-bitch syndrom? He's 8 and he likes girls but he has a temper like a wet cat.

    Thanks for being mom's like me...Supermom with issues.

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  37. My daughter is 10 1/2 years old and I could have written this post too. OMG...I was ready to lose it with her last night. Actually, I think I did lose it. Even though she can be disagreeable and argumentative, she is still a sweetheart and very loving. Constantly asks how others are doing, etc.

    But I should have seen it coming when it comes to the smart-ass stuff. Back one day when she was 4, I asked her who she was and where was my sweet little girl. To that she replied, "Aliens came and took her away and left me in her place." It was all I could do to not bust out laughing in front of her. I knew right then that I was screwed--not only was she smart but she had my sense of humor.

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  38. Quit writing about me! This is exactly what I'm going thru with my just turned nine yr old. So, I have to think that we are the norm and the paltrows of the world are just whacked! . Last night I got the "You hate me x 10" letter. All because we told to stop being a spaz and go study those social studies facts that she failed to answer correctly. I can hope it gets better, but it's probably gonna get worse. At least I know I'm not alone.

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  39. Wow - I feel like I wrote this myself! I am so glad that I am not alone! At least once a day I feel like I'm a horrible mother. My 7 year old daughter is not the oldest, however she is the only girl. Thanks for the wonderful post today - - and for the cry when I finished reading it :-)

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  40. Don't hate me,but my oldest (almost 14 year old boy) is an angel. Now, my 11 year old daughter makes me in-frickin-sane on a daily basis. No, on an HOURLY basis. Hubby says she's just like me. I think he's full of it.

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  41. wow. This post was perfect for me today. I have a 7.5 year old (going on 15) I am glad I am not alone ...and I am so scared of her tween and teen years...((cringing))

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  42. Wow you took the words out of my mouth!!! My daughter is 14 now and I completely relate to every word in this post!!!

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  43. Just yesterday, my oldest (a three year old diva who's been rolling her eyes since 18 months) told me very sternly "Don't talk to me, Momma, my hands are FULL!" Wha?! Okay, so you totally got that from me -- please, please don't start being like me. Not like that, anyway.

    Sigh.

    Thanks for the reminder. Maybe if I start practicing now, when she hits 7 or 8 I'll be able to get all the way to 10 before losing it.

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  44. It is almost as if I wrote this post about my daughter and myself!

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  45. OH MY GOD. It's like you pulled the words straight out of my heart and off my tongue. It actually makes me a little nauseous. PLEASE check out "The Highly Sensitive Child". Your daughter may not be but, if she is, it could make a huge difference.

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  46. I find myself taking a deep breath and saying almost daily, "Is that the tone of voice you want to use with me?" as in, with ME, the provider of all things good and fun in your life and the person who can say NO to everything fun you want to do and there's nothing you can do about it? Because I can make her life SO much more miserable than she can make mine....

    This little reminder of where the power lives helps me not lose it. Mostly.

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  47. Yup. That's my 5 1/2 year old. And I HATE the way I talk to her when she's exhibiting these behaviors. But I can't stand to think that she'll believe acting this way is OK. I start calmly to explain why she shouldn't be acting this way and crying all the time. But eventually I use the "by the time I count to 3", and the curt no-nonsense not nice voice - because it works, at least for that 3 minute period.

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  48. i could have written your post. word for word. it helps to know that someone else is dealing with this too. lets both cross our fingers that we (and our daughters) make it through unscathed.

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  49. OMG, this could have been me writing this!!! My daughter is almost 7 1/2 and I deal with these struggles daily. I cry and worry over it/her and our relationship incessantly. I feel like as well as having a 529 plan for college, we should have a therapy savings account as well b/c as we all know it always goes back to the Mother. Sigh... Thanks for sharing and knowing that we Moms are not alone in our Mother/daughter struggles. I try daily to make a change for the better.

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  50. My oldest was the same way and I love all the comments I have read. The only thing I can add is that when they get old enough to actually need a bra and you can allow them to have their own make up and straightening iron, things do get better. My daughter is 12.5 now and we are making progress.

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  51. Thank you. Seriously. My oldest just turned 8, and it was as if overnight he became a teenager. at school and everywhere else, he is a model child. At home we are greeted with the mood swings, the eye rolls, the snarky comments about everything, the aggression that we haven't seen before, and then the being downright MEAN to his little sister who LOVES him sooooo much... it has sent my husband and I over the deep end. It got so bad last month, that I actually started looking into child therapy. FOR HIM. After his comment to his sister, "I'd hit you if I wouldn't get in trouble for it." My hubby was/is just as worried as I am. Someone recently told me that boys this age are getting their first low-level doses of testosterone, and they struggle with how to deal with it in those little bodies. Mine in particular is a small dude. I don't know if this hormone thing is true or not, but I'll take any excuse I can get right now.

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  52. Hilarious as usual. I was that exact way with my mother and it got so bad she drug me to counseling- to no avail. But honestly I was over all that by the time I was 11 and high school was a piece of cake for our relationship. No more massive hormonal breakdowns...for either of us. Hopefully she is just getting it out of her system early :)

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  53. I went through this with my oldest (daughter) and am now there with my 2nd (son). There is light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not necessarily a train...my girl is now mostly delightful, with occasional moments of psychotic teenager. Have hope, moms, that there will be a stage again where you can have a conversation that is rational and pleasant. Me - I'm waiting for full-fledged teenager to hit soon, because I'm sure the nasties are coming back. I'm just hoping it's not until the boychild gets over this current "phase". :)

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  54. You just need to pick your battles more carefully. Really she is only seven, why not let her wear her Christmas dress to church, in May???? Really wouldn't it be easier? AND honestly it is not reflection of you. She wants to have some control and practice making choices. Now think about it for just a moment...does it really, really matter if she chooses what to wear? As long as it is clean and doesn't stink and it fits, this is a battle you could choose NOT to have. Let her have just that much control, or think of it as the ability to choose for herself. Set the limits then let her do it. You both will be happier. Thanks for sharing the realities of parenting!

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  55. I feel like you peeked into my life a few years ago! My mom assured me PMS starts at 7 for girls. She charted my sister for a while and found the mood swings were monthly!! Bah! And I found it to be true with my oldest daughter as well! Good luck!

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  56. My oldest isn't even 5 yet and she too has gotten a little drama queenie. I have had to do the Darth-Mommy voice a lot. I guess I'm lucky she doesn't really care about clothes yet. She has definate opinions about pajamas, but clothes..meh.

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  57. My daughter (our first) will be 6 months old tomorrow, and I'm already terrified that she will turn into me - I was a total bitch as a teen (ok, I still am). I just hope I don't, in turn, turn into my mother (if I haven't already) - she is really passive-aggressive. My Mother and I do not have compatible personalities AT ALL. I have at least another 6 months of bliss, right?! RIGHT?!

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  58. "I should get it. I mean, I hear from people all the time how great my daughter is. Her teachers tell me she is smart, good-hearted, polite and kind."
    Were you at my parent/teacher conference the other day?? My daughter's teacher said the exact same thing. To which my hubby responded "Are you SURE you have the right kid?!" LOL

    Her therapist (don't judge) says she acts out at home b/c that's the place she feels the safest. Whatever. But the whining HAS to stop!

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  59. I'm not alone? Awesome... I thought it was just cause my husband was deployed my 7yo daughter was being a schmidt. The 6yo is just like her sister. I *cannot wait* to see how they gang up on me as tweens and teenagers.

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  60. First this comment is two parts. One part oldest child syndrome and one part mom of a tween.

    My dad (and I really do love him) and I can't agree on ANYTHING. I used to be the BIGGEST daddy's girl. My mom and I always butted heads because we are too much alike and I actually recently learned she was jealous of my relationship with my dad. We are close now, my dad and I not so much. I can't tell you exactly when it changed but I think I was around 16 and stopped revolving my world around making him happy. He always had higher expectations of me than anyone else in the free world and he still does. That's saying a lot considering he owned a business with 50 employees. When I hit about 14 I realized this was the case. By the time I hit 16 I quit aspiring to be something I could never reasonably be expected to be and I quit trying all together. Call it teen angst, call it rebellion, whatever it was, if he said jump I sat down instead of asking "how high?". To this day his expectations are unreachable and although I love him and value his opinion I have stopped hanging on his every word. It sucks. I would give anything to fix it, but I just can't. I've tried and tried and TRIED. The up side is my mom and I are very close and recently I discovered that she has been telling him for years to ease up which made me feel better because I thought I was the only one who realized how bad it was. If I could give you one piece of advice as the other side of the equation it would be to have the expectations of her that you want to have because we ALL want what's best for our kids and despite their opinion we do know what they're capable of and it's not a crime to push them to be what they can be. However, if it's not tempered with love it will backfire, just ask my dad. Also? Sometimes when you have "older child syndrome" it is the smallest victories you cling to, so let her win once in a while. I can step outside at 33 and realize he meant well and it came from a place of love but that doesn't make it hurt less. So, no matter what. Love her and let her know how proud you are of her even when she's at her brattiest.

    The second part? Ages 7-? (I can't give a baseline because my kid is 11 and still I want to throttle him daily and it's getting worse) suck and society sucks and because so many parents don't care what their kids are doing the kids are out of control and it will rub off on your kid no matter how hard you try. My only consolation is that my kid is male because the girls his age? SO MUCH WORSE! If she hadn't inherited it from you she'd be picking it up at school. I guarantee it. It stings a little more when the inflection used to cut at you is yours and you recognize it, but even if you were June Cleaver she'd still have that eye roll and snotty attitude down pat because she and her friends are practicing it on the playground. My son's favorite thing ever?! When his dad is giving him a lecture he'll put his hand up like "stop now, I get it, you can shut up". WHOLLY crap is that the worst option ever!! He didn't get that from either of us, we never do that. Sometimes I worry I'll have to become Superwoman and vault the coffee table in a flying leap to keep his dad from grabbing that hand and snapping it clean off.

    The only advice I can give you is to walk away. Take a walk and then come back and see if your perception of the situation is changed. Also? Kids are pack animals and your younger kids are watching everything and absorbing it. Be prepared for that because pretty soon you'll have a not quite 5 year old mini-version of your oldest. That's the joy that is my life right now.

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  61. I.Am.Right.There.With.You. Single mom of 3, lose my schmidt on daily basis, wake up every morning thinking: This is the day I'll be a great mom..." Every Sunday in church I pray, "Please give me the strength to stop yelling at the kids..." So glad I'm not alone!!

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  62. This was the perfect day for this post. My oldest is only 3 1/2, and I expect so much from her, probably because her little brother came barreling in to the world when she was only 13 months old. Today she had a screaming blowout tantrum because her peanut butter sandwich was not in the right SHAPE and I completely lost my schmidt, threw a couple of pieces of bread at her, and told her to make her own damn sandwich. Which she did.
    I am so going to mommy hell, but at least when I go I know my little girl will be able to make herself a sandwich.

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  63. I already see some of my worst traits in my daughter and she is not even 2 yet. Oh boy, this is going to be fun, isn't it? My poor husband.

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  64. Please read a book called "ScreamFree Parenting" by Hal Runkel. It has helped me manage my anger considerably, and my daughter is only 13 mos old! I'd end this comment by wishing you the best of luck with Thumbelina, but seriously, you won't need luck if you read this book. I promise.

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  65. I am so glad you wrote this. I was laying awake in bed last night with this post almost word for word whirling around in my head. I don't want to be a yeller and it's the stupid things that seem to set me off the worst.

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  66. I'm sitting here bawling after reading this post because it sums up exactly how I've been feeling about my 8-year-old daughter this week. I see her growing up and I don't want her to! We have more and more head-butting moments and I get glimpses of the massive arguments we'll have when she's a teenager. But, I also see what an amazing, wise, beautiful teen she'll be, too. She's such a mini-me -- all the good and all the bad. I need to take some deep breaths and remember she's still my little girl for now. Just tonight she said "We never get to cuddle anymore" and she's right. I see lots more cuddling time in our future (and hopefully less yelling!). Thanks so much for this post.

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  67. I swear you looked into my head and my heart and put it all down in this post! My oldest was 7 in February and we have this EXACT relationship! One part screaming, hissing fits, one part heart swelling pride at how awesome she is and one part hair-pulling, soul searching as to why I thought it was such a brilliant idea to have kids in the first place!
    LOL!
    I loved your comment about the youngest never getting anything new. I have 3 girls so this is definitely the case in our house! Which leads me to my favourite tantrum cause - when one of her sisters DOES get something new and she doesn't. Sheesh!!
    Thanks for this. It's so good to know we are not alone!!

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  68. Oh, if I had a nickel. Tonight my 2-year old actually muttered the phrase, "I'm a fairy princess," as she proceeded to bitch slap me with the fury of a thousand angry birds. What I'd give for one fleeting glimpse of the angel she used to be (and the one she morphs into at bedtime, as Thumbelina does). And BTW, it takes MY princess 45 minutes to pick a book at bedtime...and "FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY" can be heard resounding through my halls every 36 seconds also...soul sistas, I tell ya! Hang in there, girlz, it doesn't get better...but there is always a fresh bottle of $3.99 vino at the closest Target calling your name.

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  69. Wow, I just cannot believe how many of us connect with this in such a specific, exact way. Amazing. Thanks for being real, it helps everyone decompress a little bit, step back and make some conscious choices about how to respond next time. You're doing a great thing, on so many levels.

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  70. My daughter is 7yrs old too and just last week I was in a discussion with a group of mums about how challenging life with a 7yr old is. We are all experiencing the same thing which made us all feel a little better.

    I've always remembered what someone told me years ago - one of your aims is to raise children who know how to behave in public places, such as school, friends homes and birthday parties. If they are an angel away from you then you have done your job and you should be proud. They can't be perfect all the time so it is better if those not so perfect moments happen at home, behind closed doors.

    Lately my daughter has been asking me for more of my time. She was subtle at first and then she told me, in a teary mess, that I wasn't a normal mum because I didn't stay at home and just look after her and her brother. I'm a SAHM - so that made me sit up and pay attention. She is obviously feeling like she is not high on my priority list.

    Thanks for writing such a great post.

    Jane
    http://thisisnoordinarykid.blogspot.com/

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  71. Been there, done that - with three stepdaughters! I completely agree with the previous poster, who mentioned having to deal with the drama without getting the softer, snugglier side of the kid - it sucks!! It's so amazing to watch them grow, though - once you're out of this stage you'll look back in amazement (just as with every other stage) at the way the little person you knew suddenly became the person they are. My oldest stepdaughter graduates this weekend, and as much as I've spent the last six years gritting my teeth and wondering what in the world I was thinking when I agreed to marry a man with three daughters, I'm so incredibly proud of the young woman she's become, and the part I played in that.

    Ya'll are scaring the crap out of me with this talk of boys being the same way, though. I really thought that when I birthed two boys I'd escapsed the PMS risk. Damn!

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  72. I was reading this. And thinking Oh I can see myself writing this. And then I reach the paragraph were you say she is 8 and My heart stop. Not because she is 8 but because mine is not even 4 :(. And she behaves like that and I explode like that. And implode too.

    People tells me she is so well manered, and empatetic, sucha beautiful girl, my family most be the most calm and nice family ever. OMG. There are days I swear I can't even hear my brain because I spend the whole day screaming ans shouting and she is shouting back. And the poor little one.. oh poor thing he just hides. ANd I feel so bad, and guilty and dumb of strting or continue a fight with a 3 yo!. :(. And then I look at her and discover what I had always known but choose to forget in moments like those... physics laws are always right. We share the same polarity, we are the same, so obviously we are going to crash and not accept each other. As we are exactly the same stubborn pair of related blood and genes. She might look exactly as my husband but she is exactly me. The stubborn me. And that is why we crash so often. One of us has to grow and start been more intelligent. I'm afraid it has to be me :(

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  73. wow. This totally spoke to me in a way no other blog post ever has. You took every thought and word right out of my mind. This is exactly the kind of relationship I am so afraid to admit I have with my 7 almost 8 yr old oldest daughter. I was laughing and then I was crying. I just found your blog tonight and I will definitely be back. Thank you, thank you, thank you

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  74. I have to agree with Sabrina. I feel like such an idiot when I realize that I am yelling at my son when he gets all tired, whiny, and just impossible. How much of a loser am I that I feel the need to yell at a 2 year old the way I would yell at an adult? And it all comes down to the fact that I am tired, whiny, and impossible. He is being the same he always is and I am the one having the temper tantrum. Let The Guilt set in....
    At least, in the end, we do realize it is out of love and we try again. Every day.

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