Raising a Blended Family

The Girl Who Cried Mama.

on June 6, 2011

Well, I was going back and forth between taking up Day 5 of the Un-Challenge or blogging about The Girl Who Cried Mama, and in the end I decided to go with TGWCM.

Lately, T1 has been a boundry-testing fiend. Last week she cut her own hair (again, for the third time, when she damn well knows better), Saturday she got into Mama’s perfume (again, a known no-no), and yesterday she tried to make a PB&J in the middle of the kitchen floor after she had been told no because it was almost dinner time (kinda cute, even though the disobedience itself is frustrating) and she went out to play and sneakily put on her good dress shoes when she knows those aren’t play shoes. So mostly minor stuff (minus the hair-cutting incident), yet still frustrating for the moms involved in these situations.

When she has these boundry-testing moments, she is presented with an age-appropriate punishment- a few minutes of time out in the corner, or some alone time in her room is generally what happens. It’s not a huge deal, although she’s not a fan of being punished and usually cries.

What’s frustrating to me though, more than the boundry-testing (which I know is age appropriate for a five year old), is that basically, any time I am the one to put her in time out, she cries harder and longer than if Mama puts her in time out. Any time I am involved in discipline, she looks at me like I am the scum of the earth (who knew five year olds could give such dirty looks) before she huffs away to the corner- Mama does not receive such looks.

For example: yesterday, she had been in time out for a few minutes, and I was talking to her afterwards about why she had been in time out, and what she did wrong, when Shorty walked in the front door, home from work. What had been a calm, tearless discussion of why we listen to our mommy when she says no to making a PBJ, turned into hot angry tears the second she saw Mama. When I had to leave to run an errand a few minutes later, and ran back into the house because I forgot my keys, T1 was in the middle of a full melt down about how “Mommy’s so mean to me,” and trying to hug up on Shorty. Shorty, to her credit, was calmly reiterating the need to listen to Mommy… but it still gave this lump in the pit of my stomach, and more than a few tears to my eyes as I left to run my errand.

It got worse as, later that night, we both tucked her into bed. I was the first one to kiss and hug and tell her I loved her, and then I moved out of the way and it was Shorty’s turn. As Shorty bent down to hug her, I heard T1 start to cry again and ask “Why is Mama so mean to me?”

Mean? Mean? It stopped me in my tracks. I’m not mean to her. I am firm, certainly- more so than Shorty. If T1 is misbehaving, I will send her to time out faster than Shorty will. I won’t argue with her or remind her as many times as Shorty will. I’m more strict…. but mean? Those words hurt more than anything has hurt me in a long time. My five-year-old is taking the punishments I give her- time outs she has earned, from bad behavior- and turning around to interpret them as me being “mean” to her. And of course, I heard Shorty explaining this to her in five-year-old terms, but it didn’t at all take the hurt away from being thought of as mean by my five-year-old.

People, I am going to tell you the truth. I don’t think I’ve ever addressed this before on the blog- I guess I prefer to focus on the fun times, the patient times, the times when T1 is not earning time-outs and calling me mean. But the truth is- it sucks to be the non-favorite parent. I am the non-favorite parent. This probably has something to do with the fact that Shorty and T1 had 4 long years together to bond before I came into the picture. It probably has something to do with the fact that before I came into the picture, T1 already had a Mommy and a Daddy, and I am the Third Parent. It probably has something to do with the fact that I am the disciplinarian in the family, while Shorty is more willing to let things slide. It probably has to do with any multitude of things, and I probably shouldn’t be taking it as personally as I am… she’s five, after all. Right?

But it’s still hurtful to hear your five-year-old tell her favorite Mommy that she thinks you’re mean to her. Unbelievably hurtful.


5 responses to “The Girl Who Cried Mama.

  1. A (A&K) says:

    Ughh. I’m so sorry, big hugs to you 😦
    On the other hand, good for you for sticking to your guns (even when she makes it difficult) and providing her with the consistent correction and or consequences as needed. THAT’s what she’s really looking for and THAT’s what every five-year old NEEDS. 🙂 Good job!!!

  2. Totally agree with A. Kids need boundaries, period. You’re doing a great job! I’m sorry it’s rough right now–big hugs xoxoxo

  3. meridith says:

    I’m so sorry you’re going through that. I’ve been the least favorite for a week (outranked by even the dog) and I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m the one removing her tiny hand from the thing she isn’t supposed to have (whatever that is) – and she can’t even talk. I’m sure you’re the favorite for something else, no matter how mean you are. I thought my mother was a terror, but she let me cook with her which made up for everything.

  4. Pomegranate says:

    i’m so sorry. i have no advice, not having been in the parental shoes yet, but it does sound like you’re doing all the right things.

  5. I’m currently feeling really lucky that Critter has not shown much in the way of parental preference so far. I know that at some point, he’s likely to do so, and that it will hurt. And then he’ll probably flip to favoring the other parent, and whoever used to be the favorite will be hurt.

    I don’t really have a whole lot in the way of helpful advice, since we haven’t really been there yet, but I do have a lot of sympathy. It sounds kind of like T1 is testing her boundaries, including how much she can play you two off of each other. I know you mentioned that you’re stricter than Shorty; maybe you and Shorty could have a discussion about standardizing things a little more, so that there’s less of a Strict Mommy/ Laid-back Mama dichotomy going on? I know PB and I have frequent discussions about trying to make our approach to naptime (a whole long story in and of itself…) as similar as possible. We don’t want it to turn into “I’ll nap when Mama puts me down, because I know she means it, but if I cry long enough Mommy will come pick me up” (or vice versa) because we’re inconsistent. I don’t know if that would help at all, but it was something I thought of, anyway.

    Also, I don’t know what y’all’s general routine is like, but maybe you could make a point of spending extra fun time with T1, just the two of you? (Ideally doing something where she’s not likely to misbehave and get into trouble…) I don’t in any way mean to imply that you aren’t a fun parent, but I just wonder if it might help if she had lots of positive interactions with you to balance out the (well-earned, I don’t doubt) negative ones. I’m not saying that I think you need to try to win her affection, just… that making a point to enjoy each other is nice, I suppose.

    So, mostly just sympathy. And as I am daily discovering, one of the cardinal rules of parenting is: Take a deep breath, and remember that this, too, shall pass.

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