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.