How Many Times

July 29, 2010 at 12:02 am | Posted in Giggles, Lollipop | 30 Comments
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Lately, I’ve caught myself saying so many things I’d rather not be saying.

“Are you listening to me?”
“Did you hear what I said?”
“Why can’t you behave?”

And this one, over and over, like an annoying pop song I can’t get out of my head: “How many times do I have to tell you … ?”

How many times do I have to tell you …

… not to pull the cat’s tail?
… to leave it on your plate if you don’t want to eat it?
… that rocks and leaves need to stay outside?
… to use your quiet voice when the baby is sleeping?
… that it’s too hot to play out there?
… that Daddy will be home when he’s done with work?
… to share that toy or I’m taking it away?
… that hitting is not okay in this house?
… not to throw toys at the dog?
… not to throw toys at each other?

When what I want to say is, How many times do I have to tell you …

… that I love watching your imagination at work?
… that your tea parties are spectacular?
… that seeing you be so gentle with the baby reminds me of all the good in the world?
… that you make me laugh?
… that your sweet voices light up even the darkest spaces of my mind?
… that, yes, you can definitely have another cookie?
… that watching you master a skill today that you couldn’t do yesterday is like magic?
… that I can’t believe how fast you are growing up?
… that you are such good kids?
… that I am so very lucky?

What I really should be asking is, How many times do I have to tell me? And when will I listen?

How do you switch from a negative to a positive mindset when your patience is frayed? What broken rules really get to you? What would you like to tell your children?


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  1. Love this. Honestly, I had to smile at “to leave it on your plate if you don’t want to eat it?” because lord have mercy I have picked food up off the table/floor/my plate so many times.

    But you’re right. I’m asking the wrong questions and not learning a damn thing.

  2. Ark, this is faaaaabulous! But, remind yourself, it’s okay to wear the cranky pants sometimes. Really it is. As long as we’re donning the absolutely-loving-you-to-bits pants too.

  3. oh I so can relate… I want to smack myself sometimes I sound like a broken record, patience doesn’t always come easy for me 😦

  4. Oh Stacia. How did you know that I needed just this right now, when my 4 year old is grating on my every nerve. When I fall into bed every night wondering where the day went wrong and how I can possibly make it better the next. Because I’m already tired of hearing myself. And I’m afraid of what I sound like to him. Sigh…

  5. our words are powerful, and we can amplify the good but speaking the truth of it. such a good reminder!

  6. Like Christine, my 4 year old is sorely testing me. Thank you for making me smile this morning. I’m glad I’m not the only one who, at the end of the day, wishes for a re-do.

  7. What I am working the most on is positive, specific praise. Catching them being good. “I liked the way you and your sister went right to sleep last night.” “You’re doing so well sharing with your sister.” It’s not always easy. Bedtime is the worst for us. I’m tired and want to go to bed myself, and they are acting up in their room, and some nights I just lose it. I’m getting a little better, but, yeah, bedtime is the hardest time, still.

  8. Oh Stacia this is so beautifully written and so applicable to all of us Moms. I was just thinking that since I started my blog I have perhaps more often stopped to consider the magic that is motherhood with small children. So writing about it, as yo also do is one way to capture those sentiments that can get lost when patience is frayed and I hope my daughter will read some of this one day, perhaps when she has children of her own and just know all I really meant to say if I didn’t always get to say it.

    Recently we instituted a bed time chat. I ask my daughter what she wants to chat about and she will suggest a topic, usually something we have done or will do and I always take the time to recount my view of the day and tell her what I was proud of her for doing or happy about. So whatever has gone before we end the day on a good note.

  9. Stacia, I so hear you on this. I’ve never been a very patient person to begin with but my daughter has taken me to a level I never thought existed. I take deep breaths, I walk away, I close my eyes and count, and even then, sometimes I don’t catch myself soon enough.

    She is beginning to test/push her boundaries lately so when I say “don’t” it’s the magic word for her to repeat that act, except this time she looks me straight in the eye, with a small mischievous smile dancing at the corner of her lips, anticipating my reaction. I’m trying to be consistent with discipline yet I hate sounding like a broken record to which she will become immune. Interestingly, she doesn’t do that with her dad. Ugh.

  10. I can so resonate with all of those! I’ve found what helps me the most is when I purposefully let go of my expectations for the day and force myself to get down on the floor and hang out with them, I am usually surprised by how much I get done by the end of the day, and everyone is happier.

  11. This was so wonderful to read… I’m so there with you.
    (I’m having a “sick day” – a touch of the flu – and my husband is home to tend to the kids… and I think HE needs to read this today as well…)
    Thank you for linking up!

  12. Yes, we all have those days. I try to make the day following this a better day, but sometimes being a mom means saying some of these things every day. Being a mom is hard… we get to do the hard things because we’re teaching them all sorts of good stuff.

  13. Oh, yes. We’re there too. The thing that gets me the most riled up is hitting. My big girl hitting the baby. I have to literally hold myself together, because my mama bear instincts want to take over. Some days I just have to change the venue, do something different. It is so hard for me.
    And then I forget that they are both learning, just learning. Rules take time to understand, and more often then not I need to give them examples of good choices, not just what I wish they would stop. Like setting up a bowl for flowers and leaves and stones outside, so they stop coming in.

  14. Wow. Here, I thought I was being all “positive” by posting about my good part-time job. And then here you go with the “children are so wonderful” post, listing most of the things I say on a daily basis.

    You seem very spiritual about your mothering, Stacia. Your kids are lucky.

    • And when I say listing the things I say on a daily basis, I was talking about the negative things. 🙂

  15. S,
    I love this today! It’s my first time being on the subscribed email list & loved reading this! Thank you for the reminder on a day when crib tents had to be installed for the twins!

  16. Why do the frustrated questions come out so much more easily? I struggle with this one all the time…

  17. This helped me stay a little more focused on the positive on a very rough day. We’re past the week’s point on summer colds all around, and at the end of another week of J. traveling, so I’ve found myself yelling these same things far too often. I fear “how many times do I have to ask” is one of those phrases that just has no actual meaning to my children’s ears, just something Mommy says. (along with ‘you are driving me nuts!’) But sometimes I really DO want to know how many times. If I knew it was five, for example, maybe I’d just go there and not get exasperated about it.

  18. Love this, so much. How much could our world (even our own, secluded house-world) be changed if we focused on the good, and downplayed the bad? If we lifted them up instead of knocked them down?

    Wonderful, wonderful post. Simple and memorable — thanks 🙂

  19. This is really beautiful. And actually just what I needed to hear tonight. It’s so easy to get caught up in the negative, but the positive, the beauty is right there, if we just take the time to find it.

  20. bam. this post hit me in the gut. because i sound a lot like the first girl, and not so much like the second.
    thanks for the gut check…..

  21. Some days I cannot even formulate questions anymore. Instead of asking why my boys have to hit each other and steal toys, I just end up saying “Guys” in a pleading, frustrating tone over and over.

    When I’m in the right frame of mind, I have a phrase I say in my head — “deposits of love” — which reminds me that however my kids are acting, I can make the situation somewhat better by showing my love for them: slowing down, hugs and pats, a gentler tone of voice, more patience, specific praise, more smiles. I’m not always successful at shifting from negative to positive, but I try.

  22. oh boy oh boy welcome to my world. I agree I wish I would be saying instead ” Oh I love you so much you all are inspirations, keep being creative, keep pushing the envelopes because the world is your oyster and yours to explore and enjoy!”
    well at least I am plenty positive when they are asleep’cause they are such angels 🙂
    Here is a version of this blog that I did on my personal 1st blog!7AABB9D36AB80AAE!2958.entry

  23. I have to catch myself as well. I love this reminder. I know sometimes I am so hard on my little one forgetting that enthusiasm and repetition are just her everyday friends. She wants to know about any and everything and I have to tell myself that I need to learn to be more patient.

  24. When I need to switch, just reading lovely reminders like this can lead to a change in my mindset. Thanks.

  25. It is so easy to get up caught up in the everyday dreariness. I’m so glad you posted this reminder that the children are what matters, not a spotless house or accomplishing everything on the to-do list. I love the lines, “What I really should be asking is, How many times do I have to tell me? And when will I listen?”
    Thanks so much for the reminder. This time will pass so quickly; we need to enjoy it all we can.

  26. I love your second list and I love it when someone, like you, shakes me and reminds me of what is truly important. Thank you for that.

  27. It’s tricky, babe. And it’s a lifelong battle against being negative mommy instead of positive mommy.

  28. oh my gosh, this is perfect! i feel so known.

  29. Love this, Stacia. Especially because I often feel that it’s the negative I’m spouting as well. Sometimes I can catch myself, take a deep breath and try to do it differently. Sometimes.

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