Hello, my name is Jill and I’m a control freak.
Parenting is very stressful for control freaks. It’s true. When I had my first son, I brought this tiny little baby home from the hospital and I, insanely, believed that I could control him. When he didn’t sleep well at night, it turned me into a complete anxious mess. What was I doing wrong? Surely if I did things right, he would sleep better at night. I tried holding him longer, swaddling better, letting him fuss a bit, bought a noise machine and on and on. I read books on infant sleeping and tried to become an expert. I was confused as to what I was supposed to do, but I just knew if I did things right, he would sleep through the night. I was told to let him cry it out, but I couldn’t do it. I had visions of him being two years old and still waking up at all hours of the night because something I was doing was screwing him up. Somewhere around six months, I gave up and accepted that he was going to do what he was going to do and I was going to live with it. He continued to wake at night and I’d put him in my bed so I could get some sleep. Eventually, he was in his own bed and he’d climb right over me in the middle of the night and make himself comfortable. He wouldn’t even wake me up. This went on for years and I never did anything to stop him. He was around 4 ½ when he just stopped coming to my bed in the middle of the night. On his own.
Potty training him was a nightmare that went on for over a year. I tried everything at least once; sticker charts, target practice with cheerios, bribery, begging, and eventually I think I even cried. Most of my friends’ kids that were the same age were already potty trained. Again, I put the blame on myself. I must not be consistent enough, I must not be trying (crying) hard enough. My mom assured me that no kid goes to kindergarten in diapers but I was starting to doubt her. Then one day, he was trained, and in time for preschool and everything. I hadn’t done a thing differently, I guess he just decided it was time.
A year ago I went to parent/teacher conferences at his preschool and his teacher told me he was brilliant, but I already knew that. She also told me that he was struggling with behavioral issues. I knew that, too. By this point, I had accepted that I couldn’t control my child. I could not stop him from acting out in school. The best I could do was discipline him, teach him right from wrong, and hoped that in time, he would learn how to control his impulses. That’s a hard lesson for a control freak to learn, but I believe I was given Brady to teach me just that. I had teacher conferences today and his teacher told me that she had no idea that he even struggled last year because he is so well behaved in school. She went on to compliment how he plays nice with all children. I briefly wondered if she was talking about someone else’s kid but then she told me how he loves to take things apart and see how they work, so I know she was talking about Brady. She also told me he was brilliant, but I already knew that.
And so, here I am, five years into parenting and I’ve given up some of my control freak ways. I’ve accepted that I cannot control my five-year-old’s behavior, but he’s growing up and learning to behave at school. I’m hoping he learns how to behave at home any day now. I have a 3 month old that can’t seem to sleep for more than two hours in a row and I’m just living with it. Well, that’s a lie. I briefly eliminated milk from my diet because I thought maybe that was bugging him, but it didn’t help. I’m LESS of a control freak than I used to be, okay? I have a 3 year old that does not appear to be getting out of pull ups any time soon and I’m not at all bothered. I’ve given up on believing that I can control my kids and make them something that I want them to be. They’ll get there in their own time. I’m embracing these days of sleepless night and kids that crap in their pants because, as so many issues that trouble us as parents, this too shall pass.