Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Hardest Part

Yesterday afternoon we met up with some friends to take the boys sledding. We were late, of course. And when we got to the hill we discovered T didn't have his gloves on. After a few minutes in the cold poor C's little eyes were watering and he'd make this confused sucking noise when the wind stirred up, looking at me with eyes that were asking what the hell was going on. T took one ride down the hill with Z and held out his red little hands, "Mommy! My. Hands. Are. Cold." Thankfully, I found a spare pair of mine in the pockets of my jacket so we didn't have to go home. And I held C tighter to try and shield him from the wind. As I stood there holding my baby and watching my son and husband chug down the hill on the old sled Z found at the flea market the most obvious thought in the world hit me-Holy shit. We are a family of four.

We went from couple to two kids really fast. We are still incredibly green when it comes to the whole parenting thing-see forgetting gloves for our toddler to go sledding. I mean, come on. We were still getting used to being parents of one when we got all crazy and went and had another kid two years, two weeks, and three days later. All things considered, transitioning from coupledom to kids has been pretty painless. I thank the god I'm not sure I believe in for that luck every single day.

But so far the hardest part of this whole parenting business (and I realize I haven't had to deal with the real hard parts that can hypothetically happen-health issues, developmental issues, bullying, teen pregnancy, drugs, accidents) have been the times when T is such a complete and utter shit that in that exact moment in time I really can't stand him. That sounds incredibly harsh, but I think every parent has been there. Or rather, I hope it isn't just me, that I'm not some kind of patience-less monster. It is impossible to like the people in our lives 100% of the time. We certainly don't like ourselves 100% of the time. I never ever want to lose my cool and tell T that I don't like him in the moment. Because it would be horribly cruel and not actually true. The moment doesn't define the relationship. 

The difficulty isn't only the white hot rage directed at the little person you simultaneously love and want to kill. It's the crippling self doubt. The questions like "How can I be raising such a brat?" or "How can I have so little control over a toddler?" or "How can he be doing what I swore no kid of mine would do before I became a mom?" It's the shock that you find yourself reacting with such venom to situations that aren't actually a big deal. He isn't acting like you want him to, but the truth is you aren't either. 

Z had to run an errand after the boys went down for their naps yesterday. And I had to get the pot roast in the oven. It was a small roast for 2.5 people, but even so it needed a bunch of hours to get tender and the clock was ticking. T started shouting for me, so I went upstairs and sure enough he had pooped. I changed him and got him the water he asked for. He took a huge sip, looked me right in the eyes, and very deliberately spit the water all over himself and the bed. It just kept coming and coming. I couldn't believe he could hold that much in his mouth. I was speechless. And while I was trying to collect my wits he said, "Mommy, clean me up!" I told him not only was I not going to clean him up but he couldn't have more water. He chose to have wet clothing and bedding and he needed to live with it. And I left. This was not a popular choice. 

Since he transitioned to his big boy bed he hasn't had toys in his room. Nap and bedtime were playtime until we removed the temptation, but slowly we've been bringing stuff back in. As he cried I heard him start to play with the toys. There is a wooden box filled with train tracks and toy trains. He became hulk-like in his anger and managed to throw the box. I still don't understand how C slept through it. And I was so angry I couldn't even speak to T. I entered the bedroom, just like he knew I would. But I wouldn't engage, I just took out every single toy and left again. A couple of minutes later he was sound asleep on his bed. Yet I was so pissed I was shaking.

He was trying to get me mad in order to delay the nap. But let's be serious, he didn't understand I needed to get the roast in the oven. He didn't understand that the afternoon is the time I get a break from the two of them to do household stuff. He didn't understand that my anxiety has been pretty bad since we came home from the holidays. But my anger was so encompassing that I couldn't remember all that stuff. I could only seethe and wonder how a toddler could be such a spiteful ass. 

I'm the grown up. I shouldn't let him crawl under my skin. And most of the time he's a great kid. He deserves better. If I find this stage so hard what the hell is going to happen when the real difficulties hit? I hope that being honest with myself about my shortcomings will help me learn from them, I hope that over time I become the mom that he deserves. 

His awesome hair post-nap. 

Yup, he believes this is a smile. 

By this point all was forgiven. I cannot resist his adorableness.  

And I cracked up at his reaction to being told he needed to eat a bite of carrot before Daddy would give him any bread. Dude ate the carrot. 

Mr. C learning to play the guitar.  

He has turned into such a little smiler, but I can't seem to capture that with the camera. Evidently, playing with the strings a very serious business. 


  1. Hey, chica, it's not just you.
    Our kids are all little shits at one time or another. They test us, and sometimes, we fail as much as they do.

    I've had to put myself in time out just as many times as I've had to put them in time out.

  2. I commend you for walking away and leaving him wet. Toddlers get that. Good for you! And you are not bad parents. Shit happens (like forgetting gloves) and you fix it--by having some in your pockets. Think back to your toddler days and, if you don't remember, ask your parents.

  3. Okay, I'm so not a parent, but I am a puppy owner (they scream like babies occasionally... at least ours does) and I am in a grad program with people who work with kids. I can say with some behavioral authority that you are right - he didn't understand what you needed to do, and was behaving to accomplish what he needed in those circumstances - and that you handled it perfectly! He didn't get what he was trying to get with that behavior, so hopefully it'll die down. Similarly, I'm hoping if we keep ignoring our dumbass dog, she'll stop shrieking when she's in her crate. Ah, it's all a learning process, but it sounds like you're doing it right. It's fine to get mad, but it's not okay to tell your kid you don't like them - you GET that, and you're doing it right.

  4. Holy.Crap.

    "He isn't acting like you want him to, but the truth is you aren't either."

    BAM! I so needed that. Thank you, thank you, thank you!