Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Criticism

I'm trying to figure out which hurts more: criticism that comes from someone whose opinion you actually care about, or critism that reflects something you know to be true (as in, the truth hurts). When it's both, it hurts all the more.

Tonight over dinner Michael commented on how when he got out of the shower this morning, all he could hear was me yelling at the kids. Upon hearing this, my defenses immediately went up. But deep inside, the criticism leaves me feeling small, and ashamed, and cut down.

It's true: I do yell at the kids a lot. I'm a yeller. I wish I wasn't. I wish I were one of those serene moms who speaks softly but firmly, and her kids actually listen. I wish my kids had so much respect for me that all it took was a stern glance from me to take command of any situation. But that's not my life.

What I defensively responded to Michael with was this: "I'd like to see YOU do what I do every morning! I'd like to see YOU deal with all six kids, by yourself, and get them all out the door by 7:20 every morning!" And that's the thing. I get up at 5:15 and spend the next two hours feeding, cleaning up after, getting dressed, brushing teeth, combing hair, making lunches, dealing with tantrums, breaking up arguments, urging them to hurry up, we have to GO! By myself. There's no time in there for me - I usually have about two minutes out of that two hours to throw on some sweats and put my hair up in a ponytail. Michael, on the other hand, gets up at 6 and spends the next hour and a half (simultaneous to my frantically getting the kids ready for school) getting himself ready for work, at a pretty leisurely pace, I might add. How dare he criticize me?

All that is true, and I do believe that I deserve some handicap points for that.

However, his criticism hurts because I know it's true. I do yell too much. Patience is not one of my strengths. The dilly-dallying, the bickering, the having to tell the kids 6, 7, or 15 times to do something before they actually do it . . . yeah, I just don't have the patience for that stuff. So I yell. And my yelling makes me feel like a failure a lot of the time, because that's not the kind of parent I set out to be. I don't beat the crap out of my kids, I don't berate or belittle them, but yell? Yes, I yell. And I throw the occasional (okay, frequent) swear word in there.

Michael has a lot more patience than I do. He's generally just a much more laid back person than I am. I'm pretty high-strung by nature. That said, Michael does lose his temper sometimes with the kids, and I have to say that when he yells at them, I almost feel a sick sense of satisfaction. "See," I want to say, "You're no better than me." And I really do think that his patience level correlates to a great degree to how much time he actually spends dealing with them. Let's face it, he's gone all day. He barely deals with them in the morning before work, and by the time he gets home from work, it's dinner and bedtime shortly thereafter - so in the evenings he's with them for about an hour. I really do think that if he spent as much time with them as I do (and I'm not complaining . . . much), he'd not be the saintly Mr. Patience that he is now.

Anyway, it hurt. It hurt because it came from him and because I know it's true.

6 comments:

Larry said...

Geez can I DITTO everything you said, analysis included! I am a yeller, which I hate, but try as I may I cannot seem to get through most days without at some point having to yell at them...and it is the over and over and OVER of telling them/asking them/cajoling them to do what needs to be done. I totally agree that the father's ability to remain more clam more often is directly a result of the 30 minutes of interaction in the a.m. and 1 hour at night - plus I love that Larry feeds HIMSELF, showers and dresses HIMSELF, checks emails and reads the paper while I do the morning kid routine all by myself and he can even see/hear me getting worked up and you'd think that would clue him in to stand up and give a helping hand but alas no...I have to scream at HIM to get that assistance :) And don't get me started on taking trips where packing the bags and car is involved...Oh well, there is always tomorrow...try not to beat yourself up about it too much and know you are definitely NOT alone on this one. Lisa

Angie said...

raising my hand here. Everything you wrote I could have wrote word for word yet I only have two kids to deal with... *sigh*

Carla said...

Count me in. :-( It is especially hard when trying to get out the door...and I only have two little ones. My husband likes to intentionally (gremlin!) irk me even more by saying things like "are you ready yet, can we leave yet, what's taking so long...?", while I'm barking at him and saying things like "I don't know, did you change the baby's diaper, has Claire gone potty lately, are there enough clean diapers in the diaper bag, did YOU pack any snacks...?"

Lucie said...

My sister said to me once- you must sleep in every morning while your kids go off to school- (she
likes to criticize me because I
chose to be a stay at home mom)
I replied-
Are you crazy -It's like dragging around 2 sack of potatoes getting them ready in the morning!!

I used to be more vocal in the morning now I just call out times-
7:50!
8:01!
8:05- walk fast to school!!!!
(school starts at 8:15- we live
2 min. from the high school)

My husband used to find it very stressful if he was home in the morning- watching me getting the kids ready- but as they get older
it will get quieter...

Nicole O'Dell said...

I was more of a yeller with my son, but doggone it, that kid deserved it! LOL He heard nothing else. But, the girls, gosh, they would crumble if I yelled at them and I've never really had the need.

I think that when you put a lot of different personalities in the same place, at the same time, trying to achieve the same objective (ie, getting out the door) and everyone goes about it differently...it's just a source of tension.

I know what you mean about your hubs patience. I about LOSE my mind when I'm at my wits end with babies and I can't get to their needs fast enough. I'm sweating, my hair is in my face, I'm struggling with two babies in my arms and I'm about to cry, Wil will walk in and say, "What's the matter with my baby?" and coo over them and they'll grin...UGH.

doulamom said...

I've heard the same thing... I have no clue how i became a yeller.. dammit.

It does suck.