Way back when I started this blog, almost two years ago, I wrote this post which discussed my parenting style, or lack of it. I didn't and don't feel comfortable labelling my approach to this crazy job in which the rules change constantly, the boss is an adorable tyrant and the wages swell no coffers but threaten to burst my heart every day. It's too unpredictable when you're dealing with human beings to say exactly how you're going to approach every situation that could arise, to say nothing of the fact that toddlers will throw situations at you that you never imagined possible. Once you've told someone not to rub his apple on his willy like it's a perfectly normal thing to say on a Tuesday morning, you begin to realise that in the game of parenthood, every ball is a curve ball. Add to this the fact that the little person you're dealing with hasn't even finished developing the neural pathways in their brain and is effectively still a work in progress (aren't we all?), and how can it be possible to insist that you'll only ever do X or Y, and NEVER Z?
However, there is one exception to this self-imposed rule, and it's one I feel quite strongly about. I don't want to enforce harsh discipline on my baby. I don't want to smack him and I want to avoid shouting at him. I've been the child cringing in fear at a raised voice or a raised hand, and I never want Dom to be afraid of me like that. Apparently, this is called "Peaceful Parenting", and it's actually A THING. If it sounds like it could be your thing, there's more info about it here.
Anyway. I don't want to get too into the nitty gritty of it, because I'm not interested in or here to preach at people to do things a certain way. If your kid is loved, fed, clean, warm and cared for, that works for me. Also, I'm not exactly the best example of peaceful parenting right now, as I'm in the middle of writing a blog post about how I failed miserably at it earlier.
I come from a large, loud family. Our time together is interspersed with arguments and laughter at full volume, and I love the chaos of that kind of family dynamic. Now that I don't live in it any more, I can see how it could be overwhelming to some, but it's a lot of fun to be around. The only problem is, growing up in a loud family means that if you want to be heard, you have to be louder than every one else. And my word, did I rise to that challenge.
I've been told various things about my voice - that I am unable to modulate it; that it's not so much the volume as the pitch that causes it to carry across rooms, offices, parks and beaches like I have a megaphone in my throat; that when I think I'm whispering, the family three blocks down would beg to differ. When I was a kid, my best friend's mum called me Foghorn Leghorn. I genuinely can't help it - I'm just loud. What I lack in altitude, I make up for in amplification.
Anyway, lately I've been feeling pretty good about myself as a mother. Of course, it's a constant guilt-fest about every thought that ever crosses my mind, but I can live with that. I've been feeling like I'm dealing well with Dom's challenges, or maybe there have just been less of them, but either way I've felt pretty proud.
Until today, when I gently but firmly told him to stop using his spoon as a catapult to ping rice and stir-fry all over the floor (where do they get these ideas from?). Afterwards, I thought I might have sounded a bit more grumpy than I intended, so I ran it by Mat. He answered that I hadn't sounded narky, but that we'd agreed not to shout at Dom.
I was taken aback. I hadn't shouted, had I? I certainly hadn't meant to shout. Mat, with fear in his eyes (yeah, I'm great at this peaceful lark, obviously), hesitantly mentioned that it wasn't the first time he'd heard me raise my voice to Dom. I didn't even know and am pretty crushed - I don't want to shout at him even when I'm angry, but it looks like I've been going around bellowing at him like an injured buffalo at the slightest provocation. Apparently, when I think I'm putting on a firm but kind tone, I'm just getting louder.
OK, it's not the end of the world. He's not being abused and it doesn't seem to have affected him. It certainly hasn't stopped him doing any of the things I was trying to stop him doing. But it's a wake-up call for me to pay more attention to how I speak and how I'm perceived. I'm 31, for the love of God - you'd think I'd have learnt to control my own voice by now!
|Traumatised, as you can see.|