I Yelled At My Kid

T’s behavior is deteriorating in a very typical two year old way. The problem is as his behavior gets worse and worse so does mine. A few weeks back he was a little shit all morning. He wouldn’t cooperate to the point that I was worried we were going to be late for nursery school. He did something he shouldn’t have and it was just too much for me. I screamed at him. Like the loudest I’ve ever screamed at him. And it wasn’t even something that was a big deal, it just was an accumulation of the whole frustrating morning. I know intellectually that when he gets a rise out of me I am giving him an incentive to continue the bad behavior. I know I need to be calm and discipline without emotion in order for it to be effective. But in that moment it all flew out of my head and I lost control, furious that he was pushing my buttons with such precision.

Um, at this point it is his job to push my buttons. And if I don’t respond correctly I’m the one making it worse. He needs good positive parenting right now way more than he does when he is being an easy kid. And I fail again and again and again. I started writing this post a few hours after the yelling happened. But then parenting two kids got in the way. This blog ain’t gonna get me a book deal, or make me famous, or provide me a salary. Just a few of my friends read it (thanks guys!). But writing here helps me figure stuff out and I wish I was able to keep up with it regularly. The cool thing is it has been more than two weeks since the yelling and I’ve managed to not lose my shit with him again. I’m sure I will at some point, but the incident did help me take a step back and calm the fuck down.

At first I was so disgusted with myself for freaking out the way that I did. He burst into tears when I lost control. As soon as I got him into his time out (still his exersaucer, he hates being in there) and walked away the adrenaline started burning off and was replaced with shame. I felt sick to my stomach for the rest of the day.

But over the last two weeks I’ve realized some stuff. First of all, he isn’t going to remember that one time I really screamed at him when he grows up. It isn’t going to be a defining event to him, he won’t bring it up in therapy some day. But it can be a defining moment for me. I can either look back on it as one of the many times I lost control with my kid, or I can learn from it and remember to keep my cool. I can continue to rake myself over the coals about it, or I concentrate on fixing the problem. It’s easy to beat myself up about it, but the right thing to do is change my behavior. I need to try and do better, and in the short term I’ve proven to myself that I can. I actually feel pretty good about it.

Z and I often talk about how lucky he is to love his job so much, the thing is I’m lucky as well. This SAHM thing is awesome in so many ways, there is no other job I want right now. But no job is perfect (yeah, for example, I don’t get paid to do mine). No one loves their job every day. Being at home with the kids might not seem like work to some people, but it really can be more frustrating than any job I’ve ever had. There are days when I basically throw the kids at Z when he gets home. And it’s usually not to relax, it’s so I can get dinner on the table, or clean up a bathroom, or wash poop out of clothing. The poop thing was my Monday. Not a banner day at our house. Mommy had to take a chill pill that night.

And yes, my two year old is a royal turd sometimes. It’s the truth. But he’s also a sweet kid. The turd stuff is totally age appropriate. I forget that if we don’t spend a lot of time with other kids. Last week I was the parent helper at T’s preschool. It was a great experience all around, but it especially served to remind me that to be two years old is to be a turd at times. They were all turds at least once, every last one of them.

Identifying stuff on the wall of tools at Lowe’s is huge entertainment for both T and Z. 

Seems hella uncomfortable to me, but whatever works for him. 

T working at the bench his Daddy made for him.
This baby is very concerned. 
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Hard Days

And then there are the days when your son throws the biggest tantrum of his young life, one so intense that it interups the uninterruptible sleep of a newborn so there are two small beings screaming at the top of their lungs in the house. When this happens you will be shaking with hunger and will resort to shoveling granola into your mouth because you are resigned to not eating a meal for a long time. You will also be deliriously tired because the baby was up until 1am the night before, you had to get up before 6:30am so your husband could get to work. And you will be panicking because your sister and her family will be flying in that evening and your house will not be anywhere near as clean as you want it to be. The longer the tantrum goes on the more desperate you’ll feel because his very limited capacity to listen to reason slips further and further away. And you’ll hold him as he sobs hysterically and tries to explain why he is so upset, but your mind won’t be completely with him because you are listening to the newborn wail and you feel wretched for not holding that son. You’ll be grateful for the nursing pads you are wearing because the sound of the newborn crying will trigger your letdown and you’ll feel milk shooting out of your boobs. And if you are me, all this stuff will make you feel so anxious and so terrible and so defeated that you’ll suddenly feel tremendously fat.

So far this SAHM thing with two kids has been going incredibly well. There have only been a few days that have descended into absolute chaos. My anxiety has receded far enough in the background that I have been managing to leave the house on a regular basis and I’ve been wearing something other than yoga pants all day long. But when the anxiety comes back it does so with a vengeance. I’ve been functioning so well that it almost takes my breath away when the anxiety manifests itself in a way that reminds me I’m not normal. I’m guessing that most moms don’t feel physically repulsive when things get a bit out of control. Maybe I’m wrong about that, maybe it is a perfectly normal response. I’d love it if you moms out there would tell me what it’s like for you. It would make me feel less alone.

Thanks to the 3rd trimester diet combined with the unfortunate postpartum hemorrhaging I rapidly lost the baby weight plus an additional 10+ pounds within 3 weeks. That sounds much braggier than I’d like. To put it in perspective my BMI is still in the overweight column. It’s not like I became a skinny-minny overnight, if I want to get to the “normal” weight range I’ve got another solid 10-15 to lose. But I do weigh less than I have in about 8 years. My food choices really shifted for the better during the latter part of my pregnancy and I’ve kept them up since C has joined us on the outside. I do have a lot to be proud of when it comes to my relationship with food. And yet, when I start to feel overwhelmed and out of control my automatic response is to feel fat. Not only to I feel fat, but I feel like anyone who sees me will be both disgusted by me and filled with pity for me. Which is bizarre because I certainly don’t feel disgust or pity when I am around overweight people. Whenever it happens I feel profound relief that I’m not parenting girls. How could I model positive self esteem when mine is so damaged? I don’t know how to stop the feelings, even though I want to. At this point I’m just grateful they have been rather intermittent. For the most part I’ve been able to cope with the craziness of parenting two boys two and under.

On the flip side, there are also the days when you are trying to not cry because your sister and her family just left for the airport at the end of their trip. And you are only doing a half assed job keeping it together as your toddler whines and begs for goldfish crackers while you try to figure out what it is he’ll eat for lunch that day. The baby will be sleeping soundly when you start make the grilled cheese sandwich for the toddler and you figure you have enough time to make a quick one for yourself because yet again you are shaking with hunger. But as soon as you start you’ll hear the baby take a tremendous crap from the other room. Moments later he’ll start wailing. So you’ll run to him and change the tremendous crap while you pray your sandwich doesn’t burn. You’ll run back to the kitchen to flip the sandwich with the baby in your arms and you’ll have to do it with your free hand because you won’t be able to find the spatula. Too late you’ll realize you’re using the hand you wiped the kid with and you didn’t wash it. You’ll realize that as the sandwich opens up and spills all over the place. The baby will still be wailing because he is starving and you’ll gently place him on the filthy kitchen floor in order to fix it. Then you’ll grab him and awkwardly attach him to your breast while standing at the stove (a maneuver you wouldn’t have dared attempt with your first kid). As you try and put baby carrots on your plate he will start to choke because he has a cold and your letdown is so strong it would drown an olympic swimmer. He comes off the breast and you spray milk all over him, your clothing, and the already filthy floor. You’ll get him back on the breast, get the sandwich off the stove, and go sit and eat with him still attached. And on this day you won’t feel desperate, even though you were crying when lunch started. You’ll laugh at the lunacy that is your lunch hour and life as a stay at home mom. And you’ll feel pretty triumphant that all three of you are sitting at the table eating at the same time.

More apple picking. 

My beautiful and sweet nephew.  

Sisters with our babies. 

The Cordano cousins take a bath.

Loving My Boys

Part of my problem with taking a bit of a blogging break is it’s somehow overwhelming to get back into it. So much has happened that I’ve wanted to write about but I’m worried that I’m forgetting details and missing opportunities and frankly I’m so damned tired it is just easier to look at cool things on Pinterest than to write. Have you guys checked out Pinterest? It. Is. Awesome. And yet another time suck. So here I am almost 24 hours after the last post and I still need to get writing.

It is beyond amazing to have Charlie in our lives. I remember when T was tiny feeling incredibly overwhelmed. I was happy and completely in love with him, but especially before he started smiling it was frustrating to get absolutely nothing back from him. This time there is a toddler in the house who is giving back all sorts of affection it doesn’t matter a lick that the baby just blankly stares off into the distance. It’s amazing to feel two completely different kinds of love at the same time. We know T, his personality is very well developed, he is becoming more of himself every single day. Our love for him is not just based on the fact that he is ours, we really do adore who he is. We are biased, but we think he’s a neat kid and we are tickled we get to be his parents. And at this point our love for Charlie is intense, instincutal, almost animal. We are starting to see glimmers of who he will be, and we think he is beautiful. But we are hard-wired to feel that way. And evolutionary imperative or not, it is a heady and exciting love.

Before C was born I couldn’t comprehend loving another child as much as I love T. It’s not that I didn’t believe it would happen, I just couldn’t imagine it. But as soon as I held C my heart swelled. I’m not trying to make a tired Grinch analogy here, I’m saying I felt my heart’s capacity increase. The tired Grinch thing actually happened. And I know it would happen again if we were to have another baby. In fact, it was such an intense rush it almost makes me want to have another baby. This whole impulse to continue the species is a powerful thing.

Everything is different this time around. During T’s infancy I was so overwhelmed and terrified. I couldn’t believe we were allowed to be parents. I was sure everything I did was somehow wrong. It is so much more relaxing this time. The nursing only hurt terribly for under two weeks. C is an amazing sleeper, he barely cries. He’s just a pleasant little blob. The flip side is he spends way more time in his bouncy seat than T did. We always had T in our arms, but that just isn’t possible right now. T needs too much attention.

T smiled very early at around 5 weeks. Last night Z and I were cooing over C and I said I felt so guilty about not being able to give C more attention. I’d put money on C’s first smile being later than T’s. We aren’t constantly in his face, trying to get him to do it. I feel very conflicted that I can’t give the boys the same experience. They have the same amount of my love, but I need to get used to the fact that I will never be able to give them the same exact parenting. The circumstances are different and they are different people. They are going to need different things from me, and I’m going to respond to their personalities in different ways. My parents went to extremes to let my sister and me know they wouldn’t play favorites. I don’t want to favor either of my boys, but I also want to be realistic about the fact that they are individuals and I will never be able to provide the exact same experience for them. I want to get over my guilt because deep down I think it is good that we recognize they are individuals. All that said, I still wish there was more time in my day. I wish I was able to spend much more time holding my sweet baby who is already growing too fast.

Brothers cuddling. 
C was not thrilled with his first bath. He’s really warmed up to them recently. 
He did enjoy getting dry.
He so isn’t allowed to do this.

Still Here, Just Really Burnt Out

Every morning I get up and promise myself that I’ll write a blog post that day and every day I fail. And now it’s after 9:30 and I really need to get into bed. So I thought I’d do a short post in which I declared I will write a proper post tomorrow. Maybe about how disorienting and difficult those first few weeks postpartum are. Maybe about how my ass is in awful shape. Maybe about how happy Z and I are to be a family of four. Maybe about the difficulties T has been having adjusting to being a big brother. Maybe about how much easier a newborn is the second time, but at the same time being at home with two kids can be really, really, REALLY hard some days. I’ve partially composed all of those posts in my head. Arranging the time to type them out has been nearly impossible and I miss it. So tomorrow. I’ll write something tomorrow.

In the meantime here’s a shot of C taken by Ellie Leonardsmith.

And here’s a video of T using a hold fast on the workbench Z just made. Before yesterday I’d never heard of a hold fast and yet my two year old knows how to use one. Crazy the stuff Z is teaching him.