Tomorrow I Will Do Better

Tomorrow we won’t fight with him.

My husband whispered those words to me as he came into our son’s bedroom. I was sitting in the rocking chair next to his bed watching him sleep. I sighed. I had just been having the same internal dialogue in my head.

Tomorrow will be a better day.

Tomorrow I will yell at him less.

Tomorrow I will be more patient.

Tomorrow I will play with him more.

Tomorrow I will laugh with him.

Tomorrow I will do everything I can to make sure he knows how much we adore and cherish him.

Tomorrow.

Tomorrow offers hope. A clean slate. Another chance to be the kind of mom I want to so badly be.

Tonight my heart is heavy. It’s sad, beat up and full of regret. Lately I feel like every day I’m fighting battles. All. Day. Long.

Having a persistent, determined two and a half year old is hard. As charming and funny as they can be, they can also be downright maddening. Enter a mama who gets easily frustrated and well, things can get ugly. We are both stubborn, prideful and too much alike. We both like to be in control. The thing is, he is TWO and his behavior is to be expected. I, on the other hand, am a 30-year old mama who should know better. I should know to remain calm, laugh it off and move on. I don’t want to spend these precious days fighting battles against him. I don’t want to feel battered, bruised and defeated after a long day of fighting. If I’m being honest, fighting is taking its toll. It is stealing the joy of motherhood. It is causing a strain on my relationship with my toddler. I adore him to death, he is my everything- but- I’m exhausted. It is breaking my heart.

As I watch him sleep it dawns on me. I’m not sure that doing better means fighting less. The reality is that motherhood is always going to be filled with battles. It’s part of the job. Our job isn’t to keep the peace at whatever cost. It is to fight at all costs. The fight we are fighting is to raise our children. Children who are decent, responsible, loving, kind, respectful, honest. Children who can hold their own and succeed in this world. Each battle is a small victory as we progress through motherhood. I’m not fighting against him. I am fighting with him. I am fighting for him. This doesn’t mean I can’t change the way I fight. I CAN do a better job at staying calm during the battles. I can choose my battles more wisely, be more discreet. I can teach him to fight battles respectfully. I can fight for him in a way that doesn’t keep hurting our relationship.

Tomorrow I Will Do Better | Twin Cities Moms Blog

So while I can’t say I’m waving that white flag- I am going to change course. I’ll keep fighting the fights that are necessary for his well being. I’ll keep fighting for him to be his own self. But I’m also going to be more calm and let go of the frustration. I’m going to slow down and enjoy the ride. I am going to embrace having a little mini clone of myself and show him how I can keep my emotions in check.

Tomorrow I will keep my cool when he asks for milk and refuses the yellow Mickey Mouse cup because he wanted the blue Mickey cup. I’ll sip my coffee as I talk to him calmly about using “thanks” and “please.”

Tomorrow I won’t get frustrated when he refuses breakfast only to say “I’m hungry” ten minutes later. I’ll gently remind him that we have to eat at scheduled times and that he can have a banana in the car.

Tomorrow I will laugh at his persistence to wear his Jake and the Neverland Pirates pajama shirt to daycare. I’ll be silly with him and tease him as I discreetly dress him in a different shirt of his choosing.

Tomorrow I will be patient and let him walk to the car as slowly as he’d like. I’ll let him climb into his car seat by himself while telling him, you are so independent!

Tomorrow when he asks me to play with him while I’m making dinner, I’ll say just a minute. I’ll talk to him about waiting our turn while I get down on the floor and build Legos and do puzzles together.

Tomorrow I will say yes to his relentless requests to play swords. I am coming to realize that he needs me to play with him in order to avoid meltdowns.

Tomorrow I will be silly with him, make a mess and not care. I’ll be better at relaxing, other things can wait.

Tomorrow I’ll snuggle with him in his bed, holding him in my arms, feeling his breath on my face, his body melting into mine. I know he will feel safe and loved.

Tomorrow I will be at peace looking at him knowing that there is no where else I would rather be.

Tomorrow there is no other battle that I would rather be fighting.

Tomorrow I won’t be perfect, but I will do better.

Monica Hoss
Monica is mama to Luca (4) and Lila (1). She and her husband Chris are Woodbury natives and love raising their kids in this St. Paul suburb. Monica splits her time between working part time as a child and maternal health dietitian and her consulting business, Monica Hoss Nutrition and Wellness. Her drink of choice at Starbucks is an iced vanilla sweet cream cold brew and her wine of choice is a malbec. Monica enjoys staying active through running and trying out fitness studios. Her favorite writing topics are child nutrition and the challenges of motherhood. Her perfect evening would include family and friends gathered on her patio with a good cheese board and wine. You can find her blogging about nutrition over at Monica Hoss Nutrition. Follow her on Instagram to keep up with her family adventures.

84 COMMENTS

  1. It is good that you are not just thinking about today, but might I suggest focusing not just on tomorrow, but some day much farther in the future? Perhaps college graduation or a wedding, or birth of a grandchild? Especially when raising strong willed or difficult children, even thinking as long term as high school graduation isn’t far enough in the future to give you the proper perspective. My husband and I have 9 children, aged 9 to 28. All are strong willed, some to the point of being practically impossible. We have always had to sit with them at night until they fell asleep, just to keep them in their beds. Our youngest finally found an enticing enough incentive to go to sleep on his own and stay in his bed all night–about 8 months ago. It was a huge relief.
    But, we have dealt with refusing to get dressed, not eating when necessary, refusing to do chores, lying, skipping school, and just general lack of respect from all of our children older than 12–even our 14 yo who has down syndrome, and communication difficulties–but she can still act rudely, and tell me to go away or be quiet.
    Most of these issues have been solved in the same way we got our youngest to just go to bed and stay there–inadvertently. Even though my major was unrelated, I still took some psychology and child development classes in college. I remember the professor specifically mentioning one of his children who just wouldn’t get dressed before pre-school. Instead of fighting with him they decided to just take him in his pajamas, one day, which he didn’t like, but he always got dressed after that. You might try taking your son’s clothes with you, and putting them on him before you get out of the car.
    I don’t know if you sing to him at night, but that helped my kids, not to go to sleep, but to feel loved. If there is something a parent can do to make non sleeping kids do so, I haven’t discovered it yet. All of our kids that were the most uncooperative at bedtime, still hate going to bed, even though our oldest–the absolute worst– is now a mother of 3 herself, and the otherreally difficult ones are all adults.
    There have been many times that I felt like I might as well not exist, for the amount of attention my kids paid to me, but I have found some things that helped. When our 21 year old son would just ignore me as a child, and then get into trouble for it, one day, I just felt really really sorry for him. I told him that, and that I loved him, and hugged him. Then I asked him to please just do as he was supposed to, and much to my surprise, he did, without even complaining. I also found that tickling a grumpy, stubborn, procrastinating child will get him or her to listen better, and not just when they are little, even as teenagers. I think because it relieves the stress and hard feelings, and resets the mood to something positive.
    Another inadvertent discovery was when someone did something very inconsiderate, creating tons more work for me, and I sarcastically said out loud, yah, I love you, too. It made me realize I really did love that person, and took away my hard feelings, even though the offender wasn’t even in the room. After that, I deliberately said it to whoever was being uncooperative and rude to me, usually our 4th daughter, and it would give both of us a better perspective, and allow us to start over from a better place.
    Once, when our third daughter, kept refusing to eat before kindergarten, and I could see the bus way down at the end of the road, I simply stated the fact that now she didn’t have time to eat because she still had to get dressed, too. That made her determined to eat, and she managed to do that and get dressed in 5 minutes, even though I had been begging her to do both for more than half an hour. I did not intend to use reverse psychology, I was telling her the truth, but she very happily, proved me wrong. Afterwards, when she was taking really long, I would just remind her of that experience, and the problem would be solved.
    That brings me to the most important realization–as long as I was begging, and she was ignoring me, I didn’t have a leg to stand on. Kids somehow realize how desperate their parents become, and take advantage of that. Even our daughter with ds, has become an expert at it, despite her lack of other communication skills.
    Now back to perspective. Strong willed children often have adhd, and/ or odd, which also brings a much greater incidence of depression and other mental illnesses. As a young adult our oldest made some really poor choices. So many times, I wondered how and why she had done those things and I felt that I had truly failed as a mother. It sounds silly, but it just seemed so ‘unfair’ because I had tried so hard, I had done so much, and sacrificed so much for her. I felt like I had done my very absolute best for her, so how could those things happen? At the same time, the daughter of an acquaintance made some choices that were worse, and I was wondering if that mother regretted things she had done with her kids, when suddenly, I realized that I really had done my best, that i had done everything for my children that I could, and there wasn’t anything I needed to regret, regardless of what my daughter had done. At the same time, I knew the other mother did not have that comfort.
    That is one reason why love, compassion, patience, sacrifice, forgiveness are so important, not because of what your son will do next year or when he starts middle school, but because of what he might do in 20 years. Not only do you need to give those gifts of love to your children for their sakes, you need to do them for your sake –because you never know what will happen.
    Fortunately, the choices our daughter made were not as permanent or as damaging as I was afraid they would be, and she now has her life under control. It is still hard, and a lot of work, but she and her husband are managing, so far.

  2. Well said… I am having this same struggle with my 5 year old. Some days are better than others and there have been many times I have gone to bed thinking and feeling like I am a terrible mother. The battles are exhausting and I am trying to remind myself that he is only like this for a little while.

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