Mac and cheese with a side order of guilt please

Over the last few weeks (okay, okay – the last few months) I’ve gotten into the bad habit of letting Cameron eat lunch in front of the TV. For some reason I decided today was the day to revert back to eating lunch at the table. What a disaster!

I was totally unprepared for the resistance I was faced with. I ended up eating alone while Cameron lay on the couch in floods of tears, alternatively asking for ‘Beebees’ (TV) and Bunny (the only thing in the world who understands him). The situation escalated far more quickly than I anticipated and I found myself in an unplanned battle of wills, having to stick to my point even though I wasn’t sure why I’d decided to make it in the first place. I’d told him he could watch TV after lunch so in the end I got him to eat three forkfuls at the table and then let him watch one show.

I’m still not sure who won.

I find these battles utterly draining, especially when they sneak up on me like this one did. Cameron moves on from them before the tear stains have even faded but I find the fallout much longer lasting. I know how important it is to stand my ground, but I often find myself having treacherous thoughts like, ‘I should have given him some warning that the routine was going to change.’ And today as I sit here devouring his uneaten mac and cheese (assuaging my guilt with carbs), I have to wonder if he’s fallen asleep hungry.

I find disciplining a toddler hard, hard, hard work. The frequency of ‘boundary battles’ is just discouraging at times. A perfectly happy morning can disintegrate into a war zone in seconds, and then swing back to a peace and tranquillity shortly after. (If I had to experience the level of emotion that Cameron does in the average day I would be an utterly exhausted wreck! I don’t know where kids get their stamina from.)

But I think the biggest problem is that these situations often leave me with a gnawing feeling of guilt over how I handled them. (Having the maid hovering at the doorway with accusing eyes while Cameron flings himself dramatically on the couch probably doesn’t help.) Mom-guilt is an insidious, evil beast, and as there’s never a right answer when it comes to parenting, it has ample opportunity to attack.

The worst part of it is that now I’ve started this process so for the next few days I will have to continue with my quest to have lunch at the table. Not a thought that encourages me. I think I’ll go find some chocolate now …


6 thoughts on “Mac and cheese with a side order of guilt please

  1. I hear you mama! My toddler is something else. Some days are so exhausting and draining, I’m a total wreck by 3 PM. He’s just started to really push boundaries and I’m constantly wondering if I’m handling things correctly, but I guess I’ll never know. Wish he came with a users manual when he was born…no such luck! 🙂

  2. Hi. You describe what happens in all homes with toddlers and reading your feelings on it makes me feel less inadequate 🙂
    Take heart in the sure knowledge that most moms feel like that at least once a day and it is actually pretty “normal”, though not nice at all.
    Pierre and Anné are two very different children and having the wisdom how to defuse each bomb (they usually happen in unison) takes wisdom from Above.
    You will know in your heart when you have truly messed up, and there is also grace. So keep on doing the good work and don’t be to hard on yourself. You are pregnant after all :)!

  3. Stick to your guns, Luce. It won’t be long before he gets the idea of lunch first, TV later. They can be very manipulative at that age and can turn the waterworks on and off at the drop of a hat.

    Makes you feel very guilty, but if he’s not actually suffering any harm, do what you feel and know is best in the long run.

    Look forward to meeting him in October.

    Lots of love

    Margie xxx

    Sent from Windows Mail

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