Warning: I don’t curse in front of my toddler. I do occasionally curse in writing when I am venting. You have been warned. If you don’t like it, well, read the post and you’ll know what to do. 😉
I wasn’t going to write here, because I don’t have anything inspirational to say. I don’t make sensory bins for my kid, we don’t go outside and color on the sidewalk with non-toxic chalk. Most days, I don’t think about those sorts of things. On the days when I do, I feel like a bit of a failure as a mom. Am I not providing enough enrichment experiences for my toddler? Anyway, we’ve been having kind of a shitty week. My almost 20-month-old, J, is going through the dreaded 18-month sleep regression. If you haven’t heard of that, it’s when your blossoming toddler basically quits sleeping normally, regardless of whether they’ve been sleep trained or not. Something about their newfound sense of self and developing unique identity causing a second wave of separation anxiety… Great…
I’m not a hero. I’m a normal, average mom trying to practice mindful, respectful parenting and some days it all goes to shit. Unfortunately, when you’ve committed to not yelling or hitting, you can’t take out your shitty days by “disciplining” your kid, so you pretty much have to suck it up, or wait for your spouse to get home, and then take it out on them or keep sucking it up, because there’s more shit to do. There’s always more shit to do when you have a toddler and my house is rarely as clean as I like it. By the way, if you want me to tell you a story about how magical it is to have a child, this is not that story. We have our magical moments, and most nights, when it’s all working the way it should, I hug and kiss my ‘baby’ when he goes to bed and he blows me a kiss and says something that sounds like “sweet dreams” and the days frustrations are washed away. But anyone who tells you having a kid is all fun and games and Pinterest photos all the time is lying to you. Worse, they’re lying to themselves. No one can live up to that kind of perfection.
A couple days ago I let my kid cry in his crib at nap time, because he needed to sleep and I needed a break. I couldn’t keep up with all the requests for potty and food and water, because apparently he has learned that those are the things he can ask for and I won’t say no. Well, I had to say no. He cried and screamed and wailed for 45 minutes while I sat outside his door and periodically reassured him (and myself) that I could hear him, I was there, and it was time to rest. He finally fell asleep and when he woke up, he was fine. Not only was he fine, but I think he’s actually taking my limits a little more seriously now. I guess he really was just begging for me to be serious about something and set a real limit (which, by the way, I thought I had been doing all along). When my baby turned into a real toddler (I think it happened around 15-16 months), I don’t think I even realized how many limit-setting opportunities I was letting slip by or being indecisive about. Now I’m starting to see more of them, and hopefully I’ll be able to provide the certainty and structure that we both need.
So today, this was how the first half of our day went:
– I pulled my kid out from under my bed by his feet, because he crawled under and got stuck while I was trying to get another couple minutes in bed with my eyes closed. I kept hearing him saying “dee doo”, which accompanies the sign for “help me”, but the first two times, I saw his head next to my bed, and I knew he’d figure it out (whatever “it” was), so I let him be and dozed off. I heard it a couple more times, then he started crying. I looked over and didn’t see him, only to realize the cries were coming from underneath me! So I pulled him out and got up without as much rest as I wanted. I had to suck it up, but I didn’t yell.
– Mostly chewed and soggy pieces of the snack bar I had given him were stuck to the cream-colored carpet (Mistake? Maybe, but it looks great and it’s only in the bedrooms and basement), so I got the carpet spray and cleaned the spots. I sucked it up and scrubbed.
– Downstairs, I scrounged in the mostly empty fridge for something to feed us for breakfast, because I hate grocery shopping and haven’t been to the store in two weeks. I sucked it up, found something to eat, and didn’t yell when he threw his fork on the floor before he ate it all. I just calmly ended the meal.
– Later, J was slamming a couple of cabinet doors in the kitchen and when I reached down to stop him, I got my finger in the way and he smashed it so hard I screamed in pain and ran out of the room. The whole time I was worried that he was going to be totally terrified and freaked out, but when he came out to find me, rocking back and forth on the couch, clinging to my smashed fingertip, trying not to cry, he started laughing! In my head, I thought of all the curse words and horrible things I wanted to say to him, then I sucked it up, got the ice pack out of the freezer, sat on the kitchen floor, and showed him my red and swelling finger and told him how much it hurt.
– I tried to medicate the giant sore on his bottom (impetigo?), but I want to do the best I can for him, so I may have overmedicated (I have repeatedly killed plants by overwatering… DH teases me about it): colloidal silver, two different essential oils, calendula and aloe when he started to cry… I finally washed it all away with an antiseptic wash and coated it in coconut oil and he calmed down and let me clip his fingernails. That was the first time in quite awhile that we’ve gotten them done, and the first I can remember with no fight. Even though it was nap time, we went outside to play in the sun to let his bottom dry out. I sucked it up and crossed my fingers he would still nap later.
– Finally we came inside and got ready for nap and he did all the sweet things he does when he’s tired (but not overtired – that’s a different beast). He finished nursing on one side and sat up and said “Dah sie’” and switched sides, smiling. I carried him up to his room where we read a story with him snuggled in my arms. I sang his lullabies and carried him to his bed. When I laid him down, he sat up and my heart skipped a beat, because nap-times have been hell recently and I was so afraid he wouldn’t sleep, but when I lifted his blanket, he willingly laid down again to be covered up, and blew me a kiss.
So here’s where it all ties together: Today was a normal, average, meh day. It wasn’t amazing or exceptionally shitty. It had its moments that made me wonder “What am I doing here?” It also had moments where I thought, “My god, I love my kid!” I think that’s a normal day. That’s the kind of example we should be setting for one another, not painting pictures of the day we wish we had by cutting out all the tough parts. When you look at someone else’s life, you only see what they allow you to see, so I’m allowing you to see me being real. Some days really suck and I have yelled at my kid and my husband and my dogs. I have said hurtful things to them and to myself, but today I didn’t yell (as long as you don’t count the scream from the smashed finger). I carried on and sucked it up. I don’t do the best every day, but I do my best. I try to take care of myself, I have people I can vent to when I get frustrated, I read and ask for help when I need it, and I keep trying to find ways to wash my frustration away and keep blessing my son by being the best mom I can be. Now I just have to figure out how to apply that kind of patience to my interactions with my husband as well and I’ll be super mom! Because to me, super mom is not someone who always has perfect days. Super mom is someone who keeps pulling it together, over and over and over again, who tries not to screw up, but still does (and apologizes for it), and who, above all, puts her heart and soul into taking care of her kids and her husband and HERSELF in equal parts.