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.

84 Responses to Tomorrow I Will Do Better

  1. Abby M May 11, 2016 at 11:52 AM #

    This article was exactly what I needed to read. I have been battling my 3.5 YO strong willed son theses last few months and after every day I to feel so exhausted, both mentally and physically. Thankyou for the honesty!

    • Jennifer May 17, 2016 at 8:45 PM #

      I’m in the exact same boat with my 3.5 YO strong willed daughter. I also appreciate your honesty, and especially the line “I am coming to realize that he needs me to play with him in order to avoid meltdowns.” I only made that revelation today, and it brought tears to my eyes as I recognized myself in this post. Thank you.

    • Angela May 19, 2016 at 8:57 AM #

      These early years are a cakewalk compared to the preteen and teenage years. It gets much worse. Be prepared as you can be.

      • Melissa May 19, 2016 at 8:44 PM #

        I agree Angie I have a 10 year old about to be 11. I also have an almost 2 year old and I am having a harder time with the older one then the younger one. Preteen years seem to be much harder then terrible 2’s

      • Patricia May 20, 2016 at 10:13 AM #

        Reading this article and being the mom of a 17 year old son, I find much of it applies now as well as the toddler years.

        It is a challenge but have realized to “pick my battles” and automatically react to the small stuff as I tend to do.

  2. Maggie May 11, 2016 at 5:51 PM #

    Beautifully written, Monica!! You ARE a wonderful mama to Luca and Lila!! ❤️?

  3. Amber May 13, 2016 at 7:12 AM #

    This is perfect. Thank you.

  4. Krista May 13, 2016 at 9:25 AM #

    Thank you for writing such a truly beautiful article! This is my life as well my children are 21 months apart, and being 1 and almost 3, we are still in the difficult years. You’re not alone

  5. Cherie Foster May 13, 2016 at 2:22 PM #

    Wow this article WILL change the way I “mother” my 4 children .
    It may be to late for the two oldest, as I have already “fought” my way through the “trainable” years with them.
    My daughter is a beautiful blonde, naturally curly headed, fitness guru. She works out everyday, sometimes twice a day. Her dedication shows and her spirit is captivating.
    She is the envy of all who come in contact with her, at the same time she inspires them.
    Yes she is “blessed with good genetics” however her attitude and dreams are all her own.
    The qualities she posses are those that require work to be what they are today…and I’ve never know an eighteen year old girl too be more discipline than Shelby.
    I know it sounds like I am just a proud mom, who wants to brag on her kid, but these are the things everyone say about her!
    when she was 3 yrs old, my mother driove 30 miles just to get a book titled, The Strong Willed Child”. To this day she has a “strong will” but now as a 2nd year college student and not 19 just yet, I see how that strong will was never meant too be tamed.
    I can’t begin too list the battles we; I waged in her younger years trying to break that “strong will when in fact it would later prove to be her biggest asset, in my opinion. Wow, God sovereignty is such a wonderful thing!
    HE KNEW that strong will would prove too be the secret to all her good choices later in life.
    The funny thing is, she got that determination from ME, the very person that fought to keep shoes on her sweet little feet, even when they weren’t going to come in contact with anything but someone thigh as they were letting her stand and sometimes climb all over them
    In 30 degree weather…she would be barefooted and it nearly drove me crazy!
    The thought of the moments I turned ugly that could have been different simply by ME using a different tone with her, brings me to tears.
    I’ve stayed on the subject of bare feet as if that were our only issue with the little thing, not the case. However, today I see it in a whole different light.

    Perhaps this is one of many reasons, grandchildren are so wonderful.
    The mother is fighting battles that we as the grandmother finally realized are just battles unworthy of the fight.

    I am a single mother of four wonderful children…3 girls and a completely wonderful son.
    The realization of what I at 48 years old now see with complete clarity would be the greatest gift I could give any 4 of them.

    Thank you so much for sharing your insight
    God bless you and God bless mothers.

  6. Stacy May 13, 2016 at 7:25 PM #

    I feel like this everyday “that I will do better tomorrow ” but the outcome is the same everyday, I continue to wish I could do better. How do I fix this?

    • Monica
      Monica May 19, 2016 at 3:51 PM #

      Hi Stacy, all you can do is try your best. We have to be ok at the end of the day with just doing our best. My intent with this post isn’t that I will be “perfect” tomorrow. Since writing this I still have moments where I don’t react in the way that I would like. But I am trying to live more in the moment and be more present. I find that by doing that I am much more consientious in how I parent. Have peace in knowing that you are a great mom because you care so much!

  7. Beth May 14, 2016 at 9:38 AM #

    Perfect! I needed this so much right now. Every night and nap time and time to eat seems like a battle. I’m exhausted. I have a 6 year old, 2 year old and a 1 year old. My husband works sun up to sun down. So basically I’m a single parent. I’ve never felt more defeated than right now. Thank you for this! I’ll try to remind myself today to do better. I can be the mom that’s not crazy.

  8. Phyllis Moorehead May 15, 2016 at 8:56 AM #

    Sadly, you will probably not do better. You will want to. But, there will be an entirely different struggle. You will be tired, or have a headache, or something else to challenge your resolve. You will always be saddened by your perceived failures. You will delight in your perceived successes. As children grow and develop new situations will confront you before you’re prepared. Love. The one consistent answer is love. Make sure your child knows deep within every inch of his being he is loved. That is your safety net for the days of trial.

    • Jenny May 17, 2016 at 8:37 PM #

      Absolutely. My generation of parents beat ourselves up for not having a calm and scripted answer ready at all times, even when our kids are being ridiculous. Its not OK to not eat a meal and then snack in the car. Its not OK to demand to be entertained while I’m making the only meal that we eat together as a family. Yes, there are times for snacks and playing and messes and we should embrace these. But its not OK to continuously feel inadequate as a parent because we go to bed not having reached some unreachable standard of what a parent should look like. Its not OK to go to bed each night thinking that I will do better tomorrow. Its not OK to feel bad because you spent time cleaning bathrooms and folding laundry. Every day has its challenges and every day I try my best. Some days are better than others but my kids need to see that I am a real person with real feelings and that I fail sometimes too. That is a teachable moment. “Mommy lost her temper. She got angry because you interrupted me again while I was on the phone for 2 minutes. I should have reminded you that you shouldn’t interrupt me on the phone. You should have waited until I was done to talk to me unless there is an emergency.” I like my kids to understand that I am human.

      • Anya July 13, 2016 at 4:39 AM #

        Thank you! Parents are human, too. And our children will be better for witnessing that we are and that we fail, too. They will learn to deal with conflict by how we react to conflict and failure. There is no reason to shield them from our emotions as long as we don’t inflict harm because we can’t control ourselves as adults.

        I think the writer was appealing to her inner adult to be more calm and less reactive, but I agree with you that our weak moments can and should also be teaching moments and that we can embrace them.

    • Kelly May 17, 2016 at 11:19 PM #

      As I read this article I was overwhelmed with sadness for this family; the word “fight” is prevalent throughout the piece. I did not fight with my toddlers, I did not yell, occasionally raised my voice and we rarely experienced the time out chair. And, no, they weren’t perfect and neither was I, however I was also mature enough to understand babies and toddlers, a German shepherd dog and a husband who worked 15 hours a day. I raised them with manners, kindness, a gentle hand and I listened to them. I raised two daughters, 17 months apart, one with serious, life threatening disabilities after contracting a very rare virus at the age of 2 1/2 years young, her sister, barely 17 months old and suffers life long debilitating pain and illness to this day (she is 30).

      If you want to understand a real fight worth fighting about, sit in a children’s hospital cancer ward. Watch the tiny tots, young children endure chemo and suffer the intense illness and vomiting associated with their treatment. Hold your sleeping toddler in her bed after another bone marrow extraction, days of painful tests and the endless loop playing in your mind is you sweet girl screaming, flailing, grabbing for you while she chokes out, “mommy, why do you keep letting people hurt me!?!?!”. and let us never forget the alarms in the middle of the night, doctors and nurses running, families hearts, minds and souls destroyed and you listen to the primal screams, wails, pleading and begging for the child to survive, not watch them die. By the way, I was 25 years old with very little family support, living paycheck to paycheck, bills piling up fast and exorbitant amounts….I’d have paid any price to save my daughter from a lifetime of suffering and time away from my toddler. But money can’t buy health, happiness, kindness or love.

      THAT is a fight. Yours is something altogether different, a battle of control on your part, not his. He is learning to cope with life, sharing, playing, boundaries and a new little sister. Unless he is burning the house down, you should step back and consider a parenting class. Loosen the reigns and let him eat his cereal or banana in ten minutes. Set a timer for him to understand expectations and commend his good behavior without comparing it to a behavior you didn’t enjoy. I pray you think more, breathe deeper, hug tighter, overlook the insignificant issues, gently remind him to use his manners….raise him and teach him to be the kind of man you want your daughter to marry one day. God Bless

      • Beth
        Beth May 17, 2016 at 11:30 PM #

        Kelly,

        We are sorry for the fight you’ve had to live. It’s hard to imagine if you haven’t lived it and it sounds incredibly painful. But just as you had your fight, this mom has had hers too, and everyone gets their hard. Everyone’s hard is different, and some hards are unimaginable, but that doesn’t make another mother’s “hard” easy. This is a beautiful piece that has touched SO many moms, and our mission is to empower and inspire moms to be their best, and again, while we mourn with you and can’t imagine your battle, we ask that you engage respectfully and not judge or bring another mom down with comparisons. All the best to you as you continue to heal.

        • Freida May 21, 2016 at 2:30 PM #

          Beth,

          It sounds like you have some ownership in this site, by your response to Kelly. I understand that the article helped many. I know 3 women currently “fighting” with their male children, all around the age of 8 that have been diagnosed with ODD, which some say isn’t anything more than a strong will. But, I am also watching a single mom, watch her 14 year old daughter die of terminal cancer. I think the hardest part for Kelly was the word fight that was repetitively used, which in some, causes scenes of extreme yelling all day long to flash through their minds.

          You lovingly asked Kelly to respect the author. However, no one, including yourself, has asked the women who responded negatively towards Kelly’s comment to also treat her with respect. She faced a lot while her children grew, and she might never understand the battles a parent with a strong willed child face, but it is not right for her to be disrespected on this site either.

          • Beth
            Beth May 21, 2016 at 4:09 PM #

            Hi Freida,

            You’re absolutely right. I am the Founder of TCMB, and please know that we want to foster that respect not only for our writers, but all readers as well. I am just getting back into the swing of working after a few days of sickness, but otherwise would likely have responded to all of these comments in the same way I asked of Kelley. My deepest hope for our community of moms is to be one that is always respectful, even in disagreement, and that goes for any follow-up comments. Thank you for your perspective and calling us on it – it’s always good be kept in check.
            All the best to you,
            Beth

      • aubrey May 18, 2016 at 4:42 AM #

        Hi Kelly, i agree with you on a lot of the things you said in your comment. and I’m sorry that you have to deal with all of that. you’re right we shouldn’t fight with our toddlers and the comment about the kid not wanting the yellow cup but wanting the blue cup…. ahhhh.. i have 2 young kids and there is not fight or real discipline unless he hits me or does something dangerous or hurts an animal or his brother or something. we make him do a ton of chores, no fighting. eating a banana in the car is just about the most dangerous thing i can think of eating in the car even if the kid is like 5 its a choking hazard. on the other hand, she is right about raising the kids and fighting FOR them. my older son is extremely defiant and has hurt me and his brother and has damaged a wall. we think it is genetic or just a very strong personality like i have, and him not knowing how to express that anger. so sometimes it has to get serious even though he is not battling a terminal illness. we all have different lives and different kids each child needs different guidance. my husband is in the military so i often have to be in charge and my older son is figuring out now that when he is disciplined it is for his safety, and we always talk to him about why, and what we should do next time. this article had some really insightful things though too. i hope you’re doing well.

      • Katrina May 18, 2016 at 2:08 PM #

        Kelly, it sounds like you had quite an experience with parenting… But that doesn’t discredit what this mom is writing. Your comment was very rude and (I’m sure) very hurtful. She was writing this article, pouring out her heart, on something that a lot of parents of strong willed children can relate to. Kicking her when she’s down is not helping.

        It sounds like you don’t have experience raising a strong willed 2.5 year old boy… So you couldn’t possibly understand why it’s so hard for her to keep her cool and act with calmness. Having raised a very spirited little boy myself I can say I know exactly what that’s like. The two children I had afterwards were a completely different (way easier) sport. If I hadn’t had my oldest first maybe I would have been like you and judged her parenting skills. What we need to understand is that unless you know the struggle, it is not your place to judge or criticize. We are supposed to support other moms. Especially those trying their best.

        This is a real mom, who loves her child greatly… who consistantly tries and tries again to be better. Her article resonated with many people (clearly)… Please remember comments such as yours can cause a lot of unnecessary pain, as this is a real person, not just a computer, writing.

      • Dani May 19, 2016 at 9:05 AM #

        Overwhelmed with sadness?? Really? This is clearly a loving mom who cares great,y for her child. It is reality that there will be ” fighting ” or disagreements or arguments with your children. To think otherwise is foolish. I am sorry that you had struggles in your life, but this author is keeping it real for the vast majority of parents out there. No mother , no family is ” perfect”.

      • Jennifer May 21, 2016 at 1:01 PM #

        Your insight is incredible and commendable. Thank you so much for sharing.

      • Yeye May 21, 2016 at 3:51 PM #

        Hi Kelly

        I guess each of us, as mothers, has our own fights. As the author express we are here to raise good humans beings. Sometimes that’s the part of motherhood with the greater challenge of all.

        My kids are not suffering from cancer, but that does not mean I had it easy. I struggle every day. Somedays are better than others. Some are good days others not that much. Some days I just cuddle with them and fall asleep peacefully, other I cry myself to sleep.

        Motherhood is a journey, and each of us has its own ticket. Let’s not critisize one another and try to put ourselves in their shoes. Not every kid is the same, so neither are the mothers.

        Thanks to the author, as you capture my everyday struggle… “tomorrow, I won’t be perfect but I would be better!”?

    • Melissa October 26, 2016 at 12:09 AM #

      I absolutely 100% agree that LOVE is the key. As mothers we all are human, so we will continue to have our moments (good and bad). No matter what kind of day I have had with my 2 and a half YO, I always end the day with this: a hug, a kiss, and telling him that I love him “always no matter what”. I truly believe that our kids respect us more when they see we are human and make mistakes just like them. By reinforcing our love for them, they will always remember that love; All day, everyday!! Even if I am screaming my head off at him, my son knows how much he is loved and adored. And there’s nothing more important than that!

  9. Becky May 15, 2016 at 10:32 AM #

    This was awesome! Exactly what our life is like right now with a 4 year old and 4 month old!

  10. Sam wells May 15, 2016 at 1:14 PM #

    Felt this for a week or more have 2 baby’s reading this makes me feel I’m not the only one !

  11. Marie May 15, 2016 at 1:51 PM #

    Beautiful message and so important for parents to hear. I feel like I have to leave a plug for Kirk Martin here. He has taught me most everything I know about Calm Parenting. His website is celebratecalm.com. His CDs are invaluable and have saved me so much stress and frustration. If you can, see if he is speaking at a location near you. You will feel like you’re at a comedy show while getting the best advice of your life. Thank you for sharing your story!!

  12. Page Nestor May 15, 2016 at 8:41 PM #

    I had 3 strong willed children and worked part time as a PT. I found early on that giving them choices between even a blue or yellow cup made everybody happier. Even a choice between two outfits to wear to day care and preschool. A little more work for me, but loess battles. Today they are college graduates and independent adults who weigh every decision wisely. I am proud of them and proud of me.

  13. Amanda K May 15, 2016 at 8:55 PM #

    I feel like I could have written this word for word. This is what I tell myself every single night. Tomorrow I will do better. Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone!

  14. Kelly Bay May 15, 2016 at 9:30 PM #

    I absolutely love that you will talk to him about waiting while you are preparing dinner to play with him! I always falter between feeling like a terrible mom for not dropping everything and wanting our children to understand that there needs will not always be the first priority in life… at home or in the “real” world. Thanks for such wonderful insight!

    • Kelly Bay May 15, 2016 at 9:46 PM #

      *”their” needs, not “there” needs. Gross.

      • Sc May 19, 2016 at 5:29 PM #

        I noticed it too but relax spelling skills do not prove intelligence.

  15. MrsSmith May 15, 2016 at 11:25 PM #

    Oh my gosh! This is everything I’ve done, felt, wanted to say, and so on! I have a 2 1/2 yo son as well. Strong willed, independent, opinionated, etc. I do let his stubbornness overwhelm me at times. Sometimes he can make me want to laugh, cry, and scream at the same time! Lol. His attitude is identical to mine. My mom has told me stories of my own toddler fits. Needless to say they weren’t pretty. But I don’t remember the moments my mom and I disagreed or fought. I remember her love, her letting me be independent (within reason). I didn’t get everything I wanted trust me. I hope those moments stick out for my son as well. I hope to be half the mother mom was/is. Thank you for this!

  16. Lisa Harkins May 16, 2016 at 9:42 AM #

    So well-said. I would give anything to have had that perspective at that stage. My first-born (my challenge child) is 20 years old and we have suffered many battles, many storms. As a result, and for many other reasons, my marriage did not survive and my relationship with my son has been damaged; I won’t say beyond repair. We are currently taking baby steps to forgive and heal and move on from the past. I was that mom. I was a yeller. But I also know I loved and loved deeply and there is nothing in this world that I wouldn’t do for either of my sons. I learned a little too late and for that I am regretful but I also am hopeful and optimistic that what was damaged can and will be restored and redeemed. My thoughts and prayers are with you to continue to fight the good fight, but with a softer tone! Bless you!

  17. Amy May 16, 2016 at 11:29 AM #

    Absolutely wonderful – thanks for good tears and a great reminder.

  18. Patricia May 16, 2016 at 11:41 AM #

    I want to laugh and cry as I read this! My son just turned four and he sounds so similar to your little boy! As I’m sure everyone tells you, it does get easier as they get older! However, we are nowhere near the “Golden age” yet in my house. Sometime around when my son turned three I came up with my “angry boss theory”. No one performs well when their boss is constantly angry and critical with them. I realize that I was the angry boss! Putting a temporary two week hiatus on all punishments reset both my and my little ones temperament. Most parents I know I have more agreeable children than mine. It makes me so happy to hear a mother like you write about your experience with your son. Thank you so much for sharing!

  19. Winter May 16, 2016 at 11:49 AM #

    Beautiful, made e think alot about how i am with my 2yr and half twin boy’s, born july 31st 2013, they drive me crazy.

  20. Samantha May 16, 2016 at 1:08 PM #

    I can so relate to this my son just turned 3. He is a lot smarter for his age but he know just what to do to push me to the edge. This was well written and very inspiring!!!

  21. Jeannine rogers May 16, 2016 at 10:25 PM #

    Exactly the thought of every mom with a strong willed child especially boys!! My son is 4 1/2 and I find myself getting mad at him all day even over the color of cup he drinks his milk out of STILL!!! And how he pesters his little sister (1) even though to him he just wants to play! !
    Thank you for such a great article
    Jeannine

  22. Denise Estep May 17, 2016 at 5:08 AM #

    Wow! This is me-my life on a daily basis. You would think behind a mother of 5 I would have mastered parenting – a big no. I will do better tomorrow??

  23. Lisa May 17, 2016 at 7:04 AM #

    That was a great read. I struggle with this with a very active 4 Y.O. , 5 Y.O. And a 12 Y.O. (Pre- teen) with a new attitude and one on the way now ? I just tell myself it will all calm down in about 6 more years!! I relate to your emotions on all levels (just multiplied). It’s nice to hear another mother express those feelings and thoughts.

  24. Shannon May 17, 2016 at 8:04 AM #

    Love the article and I feel the same way. I have three children and my 5 year old is a strong willed boy. He pushes my buttons to the limit on a daily basis. He had him tested but he was only diagnosed as mild ADHD. He is doing well in school and I am extremely proud of him. I know God has big plans for this special boy.

  25. Jennifer May 17, 2016 at 8:39 AM #

    I can definetly relate to this!! My 2.5 YO is a very strong willed little man, and although a blessing, it does take its toll on us both some days. I find myself saying the same things to myself that you have written, so thank you I really needed to hear that I am not alone in this. I also need that extra boost of you can do this! ?

  26. Cindy May 17, 2016 at 2:24 PM #

    After a meltdown by my 6 year old last night, and him telling me “home is not fun” “I don’t want to be here” and consequently breaking my heart with those words. We stopped. We cried. We talked. He was upset that I’m always rushing him (in the morning and at night). That I ask him to do “something” over and over and I don’t see that he may be already doing it (like walking to the bathroom to brush his teeth while I’m running around getting lunches made). That I’m always yelling at him. That’s not what I want to hear as a mother, that is not who I want to be as a mother. I want to be kind, nurturing, foster independence, show how much I love him and I’m proud of him. Sometimes the day, the schedule, “life” takes over. Anyway, last night we talked – how can we make things go more smoothly? Perhaps Mom and Pop can be more patient. Perhaps we can create some space in the morning and evening routine for more relaxing, more fun. So working with him, we created a morning schedule with times and activities – and an evening schedule with the same. Wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, get in car. We worked together to pick the times, allowing for enough time to do the task, and to not rush. The chart hangs in the living room and we all know what the expectations are. Parenting is not easy, we are finding our way, sometimes we have to stop, catch our breath and say wait, we can do this better. Thanks for the article!

  27. Sharon May 17, 2016 at 3:00 PM #

    My children are now teenagers and I still have days that feel this way, but they’re fewer and farther between now – I learned the hard way to offer choices (would you like the red or blue one) and list the consequences (you will be hungry if you don’t eat and we won’t have time if you don’t do it now) before a meltdown could occur. I struggled to find ways to say yes to my boys – yes you can play with the puzzles, after the blocks are picked up – yes we can go to the park, after you take a nap. I’m still trying to find ways to say yes – yes you can drive to work tonight if you promise to come straight home. While understanding that there are just times that you have to say no – no you can’t stay up til 11:30 on a school night to watch a movie (that you’ve seen 3 times already!)
    Keep your chin up and know that you are a good mom!!! The fact that you are writing an article to express yourself is proof!! Just read to, play with and love your child – the laundry, dishes and cleaning will all get done….eventually!

  28. Margaret May 17, 2016 at 7:25 PM #

    I could have written this – and replaced the age “two” with “eleven.” As a seasoned veteran of three school-aged kids, I can tell you it doesn’t get better. It gets different. Hang in there. It’s a rough ride. Hopefully worth it!

  29. Nicholas May 18, 2016 at 2:25 AM #

    As a single dad, who has a daughter that is a spitting image of my own stubbornness, and short temper, I can honestly say that I struggle with this exact issue quite often. I find it hard to get advice on parenting as a single father. It’s hard to be the only enforcer and the one she comes to for comfort. I feel as though this article was like a door has opened for me to become a better, more involved, level headed parent. I’m so glad I stumbled across this.

  30. Megan May 18, 2016 at 2:25 AM #

    Beautiful writing. So many of us can relate. It’s just nice to know we are not alone.

    Thanks!
    Megan

  31. Kathy tamilio May 18, 2016 at 4:52 AM #

    I remember this feeling when I was raising little ones. The yearning to be THAT perfect mom and never feeling I quite got it right. Now I am on the other end and see the fruits of all those fights and although my children are great adult people doing amazing things. I will always wonder if I could have done a better job. This is what being a parent is about always wanting to do our best. To raise respectful, loving and physically /mentally healthy children who will be kind, thoughtful independent and productive adults someday. I sometime wonder if our best isn’t good enough. I’ll never give up on being the best mom because there is always tomorrow God willing!

  32. Chez May 18, 2016 at 5:35 AM #

    Thank you for writing this article and sharing your story. I felt like this was written about me and I have saved this page to refer to as needed. Very sound and real advice. Thanks again.

  33. Andrea S May 18, 2016 at 7:21 AM #

    Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, do it today, do it now.

  34. Maureen Spain May 18, 2016 at 8:52 AM #

    This made me cry. My sons are now 15, 12, and 9, and I would love to tell you that the fights have lessened in frequency and/or intensity. They have not. But on the good days, I believe we are all making progress together. Today is one of those, thankfully.
    Thanks so much for sharing.

  35. Martina May 18, 2016 at 9:00 AM #

    I raised two little boys who are 20 months apart and it was not always easy. They are now both in college and good young men. Enjoy them while they’re little,folks. Pick your battles. Time and life pass very quickly.

    • Monica
      Monica May 19, 2016 at 3:29 PM #

      Thanks for the reminder Martina!

  36. Jolene May 18, 2016 at 3:07 PM #

    Love this. I wish I had this year’s ago. I still battle with my almost 22 and 25 year old. Yes I said 22 and 25. I wish when they were younger I would have enjoyed the little problems more. Bigger kids bigger problems. I am extremely lucky to have the great sons I have and I believe its because I kept on the little things. We have the hardest jib, yet most rewarding.

  37. Kristine May 18, 2016 at 6:52 PM #

    This is my life! I am a mother of a very curious 3.5 year old son and 8 month old baby boy. You literally captured everything that I have been thinking and going through. You are not alone! You are doing a good job!
    Thank you for sharing!

  38. Erin May 18, 2016 at 8:57 PM #

    I feel like my name and picture should be at the bottom of this blog. It is exactly me. Even your description (minus the coffee and wine) is the same. Thank you for putting it into perspective. Beautiful!

  39. Brittani May 18, 2016 at 9:33 PM #

    Great read. I have a 13 month old and already so much personality and very defiant…. I’ll keep this post in mind. Thanks for sharing.

  40. Nikki May 18, 2016 at 9:41 PM #

    Love this! It is so important to take a step back and see the big picture and enjoy it while we have it! Great read! Thank you for your piece of inspiration.

  41. Melissa May 18, 2016 at 10:24 PM #

    Thank you to this, I needed it tonight. Though my strong willed boy isn’t little anymore, he’s 13 now. All of this applies for me even now. Instead of which color mickey cup it’s now , that he wanted to wear the shirt he wore the other day but it’s dirty and he needs it washed now or a meltdown may insue. Instead of refusing to eat at a specific time, it’s; we are on our way to school and I forgot to make my lunch, can I have $5? But above all that, it’s now rebellion, just like when he was little. And a whole Lotta, I don’t want to. Thank you for writing this, it helped me to take a step back and breathe.

  42. Cara May 19, 2016 at 4:17 AM #

    Pick your “battles” mama. Who cares what color cup he wants? Who cares if he wants to wear a pajama shirt? My daughter used to dress herself in 5 tank tops at a time and 3 skirts at that age. Who cares?
    They’re learning independence and how to express themselves and if their parent is constantly saying “no” they can’t do that and will just fight harder (and get sadder).
    It’s hard. It’s hard for all of us in different ways.
    But truly a lot of this is making it hard on yourself in ways you don’t need to.

    • Monica
      Monica May 19, 2016 at 3:28 PM #

      Hi Cara, that is what I am trying to do. There is no need to be rude. I am learning how to parent my child and you’re right. I do have to choose my battles! It doesn’t mean I can’t write about my struggles as I learn along the way.

  43. Linda LaCourse May 19, 2016 at 12:29 PM #

    Beautiful story and made me cry because I was just laying in bed last night crying (again) because I felt I lost another battle and that I was not being a good mom. I have a 3 1/2 yr old and he is VERY strong willed, stubborn and headstrong. I feel as if I lose battles everyday and that Im not as good as a mother as I want and desire to be. I cried last night thinking Noone told me parenting would be this hard. Noone prepared me for how hard parenting can be. Noone told me that it can be a daily struggle, that it would leave me mentally, spiritualy, physically and emotionally exhausted on many days. We waited 12 yrs to be able to have a baby. We eventually decided to adopt and he came into our life almost 4 yrs ago when he was just 5 wks old. By then, we had waited 15 yrs and were totally over joyed to be picked as his forever parents.. He is the joy of my life, the child I prayed for and I love him with all of my hert and soul. But some days Im so beaten down by the power struggles. I too want to be a better mom and pray continually, Lord help me be a better mom tomorrow. God is showing me I can only do it thru him. Get my strength from him.I cant do it alone and need his help. Like you said, choose your battles. Decide what is important and what is not. I try to remind myself that a strong will is not necessesairly bad, that it will serve him well as he becomes and adult. That I need to embrace it sometimes, rather than fight against it. To let him do things that he wants to do, help how he wants to help and be there for him when he wants me to play w him. Parenting I have found, is the absolute hardest thing ive ever done. I am an older parent, we married late and because of infertility, it took a long time to decide to adopt. I love being a mom, but its so hard. I have to remember though that I am setting an example to him. How i react, how I respond, has a direct affect on how HE reacts and how he responds. We are” training up a child in the way he should go, that he shall not depart from it”, as the bible says. We are his role model.He learns from me how to act. As mothers, we fail, and get back up and we try again. As mothers we are not perfect. But we can learn from our mistakes and go on. Thank you for your real and transparent look at yourself and motherhood. We all need to learn to be that way and not pretend “everything is perfect” Thank you for helping me undertand that a lot of mothers out there, including me, struggle w this very thing. It makes me feel as if im not alone in this.

  44. Cheryl May 19, 2016 at 1:49 PM #

    I read this with tears in my eyes. I have lived this life with a “strong -willed” child, who is now 13 and rejecting every thing I’ve ever done for her and every value I’ve ever tried to teach her. I know that she is not typical, and her emotional issues are also contributing, but I have been having the same conversation with myself over the last few weeks. My job as her mother is to fight for her. It literally never ends with one constant barrage of emotional attacks after another. I just don’t know where else to go or what to do when the fight is too much.

  45. Debra Roberts May 19, 2016 at 2:46 PM #

    Kelly wrote about what a real fight is, from her viewpoint it’s a life or death situation not whether the schedule for the day came off without a hitch. This provoked a negative response from several of you, calling her out for trying to explain the difference between the two concepts. Kelly doesn’t know how she would have viewed these smaller, seemingly inconsequential matters without the cancer. All she knows is that she had a third-world problem but and sees everybody else having first world problems. Of course she didn’t fight with her children. There was no place for a fight. Cut her some slack, ladies.

    Whatever life throws at you as you raise your little ones, there are two things that really matter. One, major in the majors and two, be consistent … never ever say no and then give in to whining. Even if your no should have been a yes, stick with it no matter what. And let logical consequences end the battle over mealtimes. If they don’t want to eat and it’s a control issue (sooo easy to spot) let them have their victory with only saying once “you are probably going to be hungry before it’s time to eat again if you don’t eat now.” It will only take one or two times and they will decide to eat when it’s time to eat. No need to carry a backup meal with you, bring/offer only what you would have had they eaten when it was time. Finding out what hungry feels like is not bad parenting.

    Kelly just wishes that had been her issue, are you going to eat now versus are you going to live now.

  46. Nikki May 19, 2016 at 4:20 PM #

    Haha. Wait until he’s 9! The battles never end. You’re a good momma.

  47. Kelly May 19, 2016 at 4:40 PM #

    I SO needed to read this! I have been in tears lately because my son has been acting out more and more lately. The difference, I am referring to my middle child, my perfect 8 yr old son with Autism. I get SO frustrated trying to get everyone to the bus stop in time and he is dragging his feet and ignoring everything I ask him to do. I get frustrated he takes his shoes off three times until finally I am clamoring to get them back on so everyone can be on time. I get frustrated that he won’t stay near me, hitting me and telling me I don’t love him and he hates me. I get frustrated when he tells me he wishes he could just die.
    I cry a lot on the inside….and a lot more on the outside once I am alone. I needed to read this to remind me that we ALL need to be more patient. I’m not the only one going to bed because I feel like I have failed that day. I need to summon all my strength and prepare myself to do my best to just make tomorrow better. Thank you so much….this post will become my daily mantra and hopefully, I will have more patience tomorrow, than I had today!

  48. Kelly May 19, 2016 at 10:42 PM #

    I recently came across the celebrate calm podcasts and the teaching had been so wonderfully helpful! Kirk Martin is the amazing teacher’s name. We do need some real tools to deal with our children, as they often press us, but it’s often to find the safety of knowing they have a leader they can trust and follow. If we are continually frustrated, it’s a key that something is off. No shame in that, but “willing” the change of emotions won’t usually help. The emotions typically are letting us know that something is off balance – usually that the kiddos are the ones running the show! Live and logic, Danny silk or Kirk Martin are some grey resources I’ve found for real
    Tools that put the responsibility on the children in a loving, partnering way that empowers parents to help raise their children to their potential.

  49. Joy May 19, 2016 at 10:59 PM #

    Thank you for sharing your struggle. This article brought back so many memories of the struggles that I had with my now 25 year old first born son. He was a handful! Strong willed, stubborn! I went to bed in tears so many nights when he was little. I swore to myself SO MANY TIMES that tomorrow I’d be better. On top of it all I had postpartum depression. 25 years ago, it wasn’t talked about. I felt ashamed and envious of how easy other moms seemed to have it.

    This last mother’s day, I wrote my two son’s each a letter. They are 25 and almost 20 now. To my oldest son, I wrote an apology to him for the early years that we struggled. I told him how sorry I was for my impatience and frustration. This article sounds a lot like my letter. I’ve told him over the years to please come to me and let me know if he has any memories or anything that he would like to tell me that bother’s him from his early childhood. He was barely done reading my letter and he said, “Mom, you have to read my card. Right now!” I opened his card and in the middle of his sweet words of love to me, he wrote this, “I forgive you, Mom. For anything you feel like you did wrong in my childhood. I do not hold it against you. I would not be where I am without you mom. I love you.”

    That strong willed boy that I fought with has become an awesome man and he is someone I would want my daughter to marry. I learned to fight FOR him not with him. I am a better person for having parented him. Tomorrow came and I did do better. This Mother’s Day I accepted his forgiveness and I forgave myself. Mothering is not easy. We need to give each other and ourselves grace. Raising good humans is hard, discouraging, amazing, exhilarating, exhausting, fulfilling, humbling, and a privilege! Thank you for being real.

  50. Erica May 20, 2016 at 2:35 PM #

    This was perfect wording . I am a mother of 4 kid’s and my husband works out of town he is gone monday- Friday and some times Saturdays I have a 13yr old an 8yr old a 3yr old and a 7month old baby and I recently found out I’m pregnant again my birth control failed on me so I can only say this is another blessing.I work full time and I don’t have family or friends in this city I don’t have much help at all .. I have fights with my oldest everyday because I want them to help out but they are kid’s and want to play and be outside and then I have 2 small kid’s that depend so much on me I’m so frustrated most of the time and too busy with everything from cleaning laundry and cooking and working that I have no time to enjoy my kids fustration leads to fights with the kid’s and every night I sit in bed wondering how I did it and feeling guilty for being upset half of my day. These were the perfect worrds to hear .

  51. Brian May 20, 2016 at 4:31 PM #

    There is much wisdom in the following:
    “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.”

    I would change the “motherhood” to parenthood however. 😀 Unfortunately it is wisdom that VERY few find or even realize. As a result we have a generation of children being raised by parents who are more concerned with being their child’s FRIEND instead of their PARENT, never saying no or setting (and enforcing) guidelines or boundaries. It is a wise parent who realizes those boundaries sometimes look like battle lines, and as hard as a child may try to break those boundaries, they really are testing them, to see how strong they are. For in those boundaries they find comfort and in a way, strength which in turn develops the very tenacity and strength that turns them into “are decent, responsible, loving, kind, respectful, honest children (and then adults) who can hold their own and succeed in this world.
    Well written and Thank you for sharing!

  52. Lisa May 22, 2016 at 9:00 PM #

    I used to always say “Will it really matter ….whatever happened … In five years? Pick your battles wisely and spend quality time with your kids.

  53. Hailey C. May 23, 2016 at 10:21 AM #

    I don’t think this could have come at a better point in time for me. I have been to the point of tears from pure exhaustion and feeling like a failure every time I argue or get upset with my 3 and a half year old nearly every day. She is so much like me and we both could argue black is white if we tried and I know that certainly doesn’t help in reducing the daily battles. I know I am a good mom and I love my child to the ends of the earth – this reminder to work through it was perfect.

  54. Jessica May 23, 2016 at 10:32 PM #

    You have no idea how much this has helped me. As I read every word, I felt as if I had pulled a book from off my bookshelf – one I never published or even wrote on paper. Tomorrow is going to fun! Tomorrow, my house is going to be messy! Tomorrow, I’ll let my 1 and 3 year old teach me how to be a kid again. Tomorrow, I’ll nap with my little ones instead of picking up toys for the 10th time only to do it 10 more times before bed, doing the dishes or scrolling through my facebook feed from my phone. Tomorrow, will be great! Thank you!

  55. Missy May 24, 2016 at 4:03 PM #

    I was looking for a little morning mantra to review to help me start each day with more patience and gratitude for the only 18 or so short years my kids will live with me. This article will do. Thank you!

  56. Ana May 25, 2016 at 9:25 AM #

    I absolutely enjoyed reading this article, thank you. Being the mom of two boys ( 10 and 4), as well as working a full time job is so challenging. I was able to relate so much to this article. I tend to lose my patience easily, and at night I watch them sleep and promise that tomorrow will be different. Thank you again for beautifully written article, look forward to reading more of your blogs.

  57. Alyssa June 1, 2016 at 10:45 PM #

    Thank you for being a voice for exactly how I feel. I needed to know I’m not alone. Awesome read.

  58. Yolie June 7, 2016 at 9:16 AM #

    Rings True… having teenagers is tough. My son told me yesterday that he hates how protective I am, can’t stand it. I explained that he is my son and I will never stop being protective…from his first breath to his last. Sometimes frustrations run high and we all say things we wish we had said differently…but the love and desire for safety and happiness will always be ther

  59. Sylvia June 14, 2016 at 9:58 AM #

    Godddddd! I thought it was just me. I thought there was something wrong with me! Thank you for making me realize I’m not the only one who’s having a hard time at times…..

  60. Sophie June 29, 2016 at 11:22 AM #

    This article actually changed my whole outlook on parenting. I can’t even begin to say thank you enough for speaking EXACTLY what my heart needed to hear!!!

  61. Rekemo September 27, 2016 at 11:36 AM #

    This is SO true and so well said! i am so glad to know I’m not the only one who feels the joy turn to frustration at times.

  62. Nomi October 18, 2016 at 11:08 PM #

    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.

  63. Allyson Taylo May 20, 2017 at 6:42 PM #

    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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