This is a bit of a resolution post. I try not to make resolutions because they’re usually made in a moment of clarity (or manic upswing, drunkenness, post-coitus, etc.), which makes them difficult to stick to, and I hate setting myself up for failure. But I’ve decided to make a couple of new commitments.
To keep myself on the ball with this blog, I’m committing to six new posts per week. OK, let’s call it 4-6 in case of Acts of God and such. I’ve sort of set myself up for writer’s block with an admittedly short history of long, introspective posts. If I am to stick to this new commitment, I might have to let go of the notion that every post needs to be long in order to be substantive. I’ve been mostly happy with what I’ve posted so far, and I’m hoping I don’t let quality take a back seat to quantity. But this blog is for me. It’s about honoring my thoughts and feelings enough to give them voice. I’d like very much not to let myself down.
My second new commitment today is to be a better dad and step-dad. Work has been stressful for almost a year now. I was promoted ahead of other employees with more seniority at my institution, but who didn’t necessarily have more experience in the field, and it caused a bit of a rift. It was the proverbial last straw for a few. Those few folks resented me and our boss, and eventually left the office, leaving a huge gap in service coverage. I haven’t been able to perform my job duties as well as I’d like, and more and more is being expected of everyone. Anyway, I’ve been having a difficult time leaving my stress at work, so when I come home to shouting kids, kids in time out, kids tattling, kids hitting kids, kids peeing on the floor, etc., it sometimes takes all I have left not to slam my head into a wall.
So in not managing my stress well, I’ve taken to yelling at the kids on a regular basis, and even swatting the occasional defiant butt. I swore in my BK (before kids) years that I would never spank my children. But most of us eventually find ourselves parenting the same way our parents did. I guess it’s a matter of catching ourselves when it happens. I feel completely shitty and unjustified every time I swat one of my kids’ butts or knock ’em upside the head. It’s not quite enough to hurt them, but enough to get their attention. At any rate, it sucks, and I don’t want to be that kind of parent.
As a quick update to the post I called Zen and the Art of Step-Parenting, I’m definitely still practicing, but I think things are definitely improving. I recently spoke with my brother-in-law about step-parenting. He married my sister almost 6 years ago, when my niece was about a year older than my soon-to-be step-son, L. He said they’re just now starting to feel like a cohesive family unit. *sigh*
Last night I made a more concerted effort to accept all of my kids’ (especially L’s) individuality and needs. (There is almost no better, more direct path to happiness than acceptance.) I showed them more interest in what they had to say. I rode my bike with them. I put a positive spin on the things that I usually come down on them for, and was way more successful in redirecting behavior. Of course, none of this is new to me. I understand these concepts. But putting them into practice lately has proven difficult. And maybe it’s because I’m a dad, but I took it a little too far, as usual, keeping the kids awake a few more minutes than they needed to be with my silliness. And that’s OK.
On a related note, I also decided that I need to smile more. Here’s a tip: If you find yourself smiling and you notice that it’s uncomfortable, you probably need to find a way to smile more often. Enough said about that.
So today, I am improving the quality of my family life by being diligent in the tasks that take care of Me, and by accepting the things I don’t have the power to change. (Serenity, anyone?)
Parenting (and conjecturing) from the bungalow,
P.S. As always, comments are encouraged and appreciated!