Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Where it Gets Hard

For the past three or four months, I've really been feeling like I've hit my stride as a mom of two kids less then two years apart. I know how to get them both in and out of the car; how to get us through a trip to Target or the grocery story; precisely how long I have to run errands with both boys; how to get us all dress and fed everyday; how to conquer dinner and bath time solo; how to get the laundry done every week; how to hug two squirmy boys at once.

I've been feeling pretty proud. More than a little smug. Like I'm a fucking rock star or something.

Then, yesterday, Oscar handed me my ass. Just served it up to me on a silver platter. Here you go, Mom. You suck.

And now, it's hard again.

Yesterday was quite possibly the hardest day I've ever had as a parent. I had more than one moment where I thought, "I can't do this. I'm not doing this well enough. I'm completely failing these boys." It was really, really shitty.

I wish I could pinpoint the moment when it started so I could go back and change everything. Was it when I allowed Oscar to stay in his PJs all morning? Or when I let him have half a piece of Cinnamon toast and two cups of juice for breakfast? Or when I insisted he change his full diaper against his wishes? When I finally made him get dressed? Could it have been starting the day with a movie instead of Agent Oso? Or was there no particular moment?

Oscar was difficult yesterday, to say the least. The very least. He was mean; he was slapping and punching and kicking Miles and I. Trying to knock us over. Laughing at his brother's tears of pain and frustration. Kicking me and laughing when I put him in time out and refusing to stay put. Throwing toys with every intention of causing injury to others.

He would not sit still. Not for one minute. Not for 30 seconds. He was throwing his body full force on to me or onto Miles. I stood up, holding Miles from his reach and he came at me fast and hard, trying to knock me to the ground; pound on me with his fists; scratching at me with his nails; kicking me with his feet.

I tried to put him in time out; I tried raising my voice sternly to him; I tried putting him in time out again; I tried explaining that he was hurting me, hurting Miles and that was not nice; I tried ignoring him; I tried distracting him; I tried giving him something to eat; I tried getting him to take a nap, like Danny; I tried hugging him.

Nothing worked. Nothing. Everything I tried just made him more and more angry. It went on for nearly two hours. I didn't even recognize him. He was not my sweet boy.

I put in Grouchland again, and he lay calmly on the couch for the duration. I went to the couch and asked for a hug and he just clung to me for dear life for several minutes and then I knew it had been as bad for him as it was for me. It was over. He continued to be difficult for the rest of the day, but he wasn't mean so I just let it go. He fell asleep at 6pm, before dinner, and we put him down fully clothed.

I woke this morning determined to make today a better day. Because yesterday was awful. It was awful for me and I'm sure it was awful for Oscar.

He woke up early, before I even finished my shower. He wanted to wear the same shirt he'd been wearing all night and the previous day - I allowed it. He chose his breakfast and settled in sleepily for some early morning Sesame Street.

Oscar and I spent the morning playing cars while Miles played beside us and the TV hummed unwatched in the background.

Right now, Miles is napping and Oscar and Danny are playing a very involved stacking game. I was waved away, "Go sit on big chair, Momma. I play with Danny."

Today is a better day and we are moving forward. I'm thankful that it is not awful, that I do not feel like I'm failing my little boys and that Oscar's delicate balance has not been upset. Not yet, at least.

I've been humbled by my two-year-old. This is hard. Really, really hard. I don't win every day. I don't even win most days. And I still have get up every morning, game-face on, trying for a win even after my ass has been royally kicked. Especially after my ass has been royally kicked.

But today, I don't care about winning. I'm just hoping for a draw.


Anonymous said...

This, too, shall pass. xo

Susanica said...

Hi Jenni. So sorry that yesterday was so hard. I do know the feeling. I was thinking about the "winning-losing" thought process you described. Also known as the "Zero-Sum Game". It got me thinking about negotiation strategy and the classic book "Getting to Yes" where there is no winner or loser. Everyone's interests (which are different) are met so everyone wins. Must think more about this.

Bottom line is that you are a great mom. And these two year old are brilliant. They know how to push every button. And they are also experts at "triangulation". Pitting one parent against the other. Oh yeah. Anyway, I hope today is better for you. And your number one son. -Monica

Erin said...

sounds like yesterday was really a rough day. i'm sorry, those are so hard, and i've never had one like what you described, so i give you major props for holding yourself together!

you are doing great. being the best mom you can be. and that is all anyone can ask for :)

Sprite's Keeper said...

Oh wow. I really hope yesterday was a one hit wonder!

rachel said...

Ben gets like this more and more lately. It IS awful! I had my stepsister come over one time and he stopped immediately. It's like he was ashamed of himself and didn't want her to see how he had been acting. I think you are exactly right about it being as bad for Oscar as it is for you when he gets into his mood... Good luck and if you have success with curbing it, please tell me. ;)

Jenn said...

Post-Halloween crazies? Finn has been especially "special" since Halloween. I think all the commotion and excitement of Halloween (not too mention all the freaking candy) creates havoc. When they go so high, coming down is NO FUN AT ALL.

Keely said...

Ugh. Xander will have an occasional, random day like that. I've never been able to figure out what, if anything, caused it either - bad sleep? teething? constipation? woke up on the wrong side of the bed?

*hugs* You're not failing, not even a little bit.

Anonymous said...

It's called "The Terrible Twos" and it stops sometime around the time they turn, oh, 24.

Not really, but it will often seem that way. Days like this aren't a reflection on you or the job you're doing as a mother, so keep that thought close.

Parenting: never easy, often exhausting, eternally rewarding.


Jan from the Sushi Bar

Veronica said...

Some days are just shit and you hang on by your fingernails, praying for it to end. Days like that make me tired and anxious and it's horrid. I hope it gets better from here on in.

Heather said...

I have had a day like that not too long ago...and you left me some great advice and words that helped me. Being a parent is HARD! All I can say is thank god it's not every day that they act up like that! Those precious little bundles passed to us in the hospital that filled our hearts with such love have a way of getting under our skin like no other can. And, it hurts more when it's them because we just love them so damn much! Wishing you lots of luck that you don't have another day like this for a long time.

Mrsbear said...

Phew! In my head I'm singing the Facts of Life theme song.

You need those rare wins to balance the losses. Of course you're not failing them. Every day is a new chance to prove it. Or crawl in back in to bed with a box of cookies. If you don't choose the cookies, consider it success.

Hope today and tomorrow are better.

Captain Dumbass said...

You're always going to get days like that, just remember, you're a fucking rock star!

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

Awwww! Sorry you had a bad day. There will be more, but you'll muster through them - because you ROCK! :)

blissfully caffeinated said...

Oh, jenni. I'm so late to this post but I wish I could give you a giant hug. It is SO HARD. It is. I've had those days, and you handled it better than I did. You are an awesome Mom and you are doing a great job with your boys. Do not doubt that.


Casey said...

It is hard, you know I'm in the same boat since we emailed about our pleasant kids a few weeks back.

So my latest thing is that I'm anti-food dye and we went dye free a few days back. I'm going to email you some links on the effects of food dye and behavior problems and you'll be all WTF! Or you'll think I'm weird. Either way.