Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Losing It

My daughter licks the icing from her second birthday cake, marking the end of her time as a baby and the beginning of me facing the hardest year of her life.  We are at Sesame Place dining with the characters and as The Count and Big Bird dance around singing Happy Birthday I consider the many challenges ahead of us as I help blow out her candles.  The never ending toddler bed transition, introducing the potty, and part time pre-school.  Not to mention the myriad of tantrums and defiant behavior that will become more frequent than they have been in the past few months. 

After a fun filled day of taking pictures with Elmo and dancing with Zoe, the Terrible Two wasted no time rearing its ugly head as my naked daughter, refusing to take a bath in her over tired haze, crawled and clawed her way up my chest in our hotel bathroom.  My husband was out getting some food as I'm stranded, kneeling on the tile, asking her to please calm down and tell me what she wants.  She does nothing but point and scream in tones that are both familiar and new.  High and amazingly higher.  I take her to the common room of the suite and she demands we go out into the hallway, kicking the towel away from her bottom which I'm hoping prevents an accident on the rug.  After I tell her numerous times we can't go out without clothes on she cries for chocolate milk.  Halfway through my assembling her sippy cup she decides she doesn't want that and instead screams for something else I can't figure out.  My brain short circuits and I scream back.  This naturally does nothing but make me feel more defeated and sweaty.  I abandon the sippy cup and turn on the travel DVD player.  As expected Mickey Mouse Clubhouse puts her in a trance and I'm able to get her dressed and lay her on the bed while we both catch our breathe.

My husband comes back and I feel the urge to escape.  Looking around the hotel room we so neatly decorated with 2nd birthday balloons and streamers I feel this moment has tarnished what was such a great day.  I grab my cell phone and tell him I need to go for a walk, rushing out and into the elevator realizing I look like a mess with my disheveled hair and wrinkled clothes.  I go sit in the courtyard overlooking the indoor pool.  The sun is setting and there is a family inside with a young child, about my daughter's age.  I sit there wondering if that mother feels like a bit of a failure when her kid makes her crazy too.

In the past month I've completely lost it with her on more occasions than I'd like to admit. I am in charge of the unfun stuff which includes getting my daughter dressed in the morning, bathed at night, brushing her teeth and then to bed.  It gets exhausting to be creative with every task that needs to get done.  To make a game out of something to hold  her attention.  When I am out of ideas and can clearly detect her lack of eye contact and encore of "The Wheels on the Bus" as signs of procrastination and rebellious behavior,  I find myself storming out of rooms, leaving her screaming and crying, threatening to take her favorite stuffed animal away and then following through while resenting my own actions.  None of which seem to be teaching her a lesson and leave me feeling sad and frustrated, looking down at the imaginary "Bad Cop" badge on my chest.

I know I shouldn't be hard on myself for feeling this way.  I should know that my parents didn't feel like they were "in charge" until I was maybe three or four.  When I could really understand things and wasn't as frustrated with my developing communication and the overwhelming curiosity of a two year old.  But then I think I'm just giving my daughter a pass and making excuses for her behavior and my inability to somehow control it.  Instead of just understanding there are some battles I can't win and some battles I'm just too damn tired to fight.

The next day we go back to Sesame Place.  Upon entering we see a little boy laying on the ground in front of the gate with his sippy cup.  He's about three years old, eyes watery and likely fresh off a tantrum.  We smile as we pass but are ignored by his agitated mother who leaves her stroller and older son a few feet away to pick him up.  She wrestles the younger boy in the stroller as the older one pretends to punch him, making him cry and scream.  The woman is sweating, blowing her hair out of her eyes and trying to unlock the wheel brakes.  We make our way to the ticket taker just as she starts to push forward knocking the stroller into her older child who jumped in front to again agitate his little brother.  It  practically flips over.  "That's it WE ARE LEAVING!"  The mother screams, whips the stroller around and charges towards the parking lot.  She escapes my view as I hear her boys crying and pleading for her to go back. 

I look at my daughter and husband as they go through the gates, feeling sorry for the woman.  Wondering what her trip home will be like and what she will tell her spouse.  More importantly, I wonder how quickly the kids will forget what they did to make their mother crazy. At some point she will eventually cool down, possibly go over what went wrong, consider what she could have done differently if anything, and then realize none of it matters.  Because unlike me she's likely already learned that being a parent is just as much about keeping it together as it is about occasionally falling apart. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh Nicole, this post made me sad but at the same time I identified with you. I've had to hand Charlie to Mike and walk away on occasion. And sometimes I even get mad at the fact that he's never had to do that because he's the most patient person in the world. It's not easy, this whole parenting thing. But you and Kenny are two people that I can't imagine doing anything other than bringing up an awesome kid. Remember when you were a brand new mom and you thought those first few weeks of hard times would never end? They did! This phase might be a bit longer, but it'll come to an end. And no matter what, Jordan loves you and she knows you love her. :) So freak out if you need to! We're all human and she won't remember it anyway.

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