There was a moment on Sunday that sort of summed up the last two days–C was in the tub and I took a quick pee (yes, I had eyes on C the whole time). You know when your period ends? And almost 24 hours goes by? And surprise! Your period didn’t really end, it just took a bit of a vacation? Yeah, not to get too graphic, but the mess was EVERYWHERE. T choose the moment I was making this discovery to bust into the bathroom and demand to poop.
Or how about this one–It was a beautiful day, so while C napped T and I played out back in his sandbox. T came inside to pee. He came back out carrying his pants, which were wet. “What happened?” I asked. “I don’t know” he told me. I went to the bathroom and the rest of his clothing was in a pile on the floor soaking up the puddle of pee surrounding it. I asked him why he peed on the floor rather than in the toilet. He told me it is what he does when he is mean. I told him he lost the privilege to play in the sandbox for the rest of the day.
Or when he threw a stone coaster at this brother’s head.
Or when he was in time out in his room and pooped in his training potty and got shit smeared all over his ass, legs, hands, and the toilet seat. I wept as I gagged while cleaning off the seat as T played merrily in the tub and C threw all the toys I’d collected back into the water. The toys I’d removed so they didn’t get poop flecks on them.
Or when I told him not to touch his brother’s cheerios until he finished his yogurt and he calmly looked me in the eye, grabbed some cheerios and ate them.
Or when he hit his brother’s head with his red plastic drill over and over.
Or when I told him to get off the chair and away from the butcher block and he grabbed the loaf of bread and sunk his teeth into it.
People, he is sapping my will to live. I had him home yesterday because he is sick (actually all four of us are sick) and it was a disaster. We are so frustrated with each other right now. Yesterday I grabbed C and took him into the bathroom with me (I cannot leave them unsupervised together) and locked the door. So I could take a crap. T followed us an banged on the door and wept like his heart was breaking, “Mama! Mama! Mama! I NEED to see you poop!” I called back that I needed privacy. And I started crying, too. Not because I hurt for him, nope, I cried because I want to defecate in peace. I think that is reasonable. I have a cold, I am exhausted, I need a fucking break from my children. And I want to poop alone. After I openend the door I held him as he sobbed and told him I give him privacy when he poops and he should extend me the same courtesy. “NO!” he shouted, “I get privacy when I poop! You do not get privacy when you poop!”
What the fuck, people. What. The. Fuck. Last night I called Z moments before he was getting ready to head home. He dreads those calls, the only time I make them is when things really aren’t going well. I started out calmly explaining the poop spectacular in T’s bedroom. And I don’t even know how it happened, but suddenly I was hysterically crying and choking out an overdramatic monologue about how I swore I wouldn’t raise a brat and I’m the worst mom in the world because I am raising a brat and I don’t know what do to and I suck, I just suck at parenting. I am a failure as a mother. And by the way, T is a shitty little asshole. And I know that is my fault, but still he is.
I think Z was trying not to laugh. Which is really good. If he laughed I would have gotten in my car and driven to Canada. He told me he really couldn’t understand everything I was saying because of the crying, but he said I wasn’t a failure as a mother. And he said that T wasn’t a shitty little asshole. And he promised he’d be home soon, which was exactly what I needed to hear.
Oh boy, I have written about the battle of wills between parent and child before. I write something and think “There! I have conquered that demon!” That is bullshit. The demon might go to sleep for a while, but then it comes roaring back. It helps no one for me to engage him in a battle of wills. It helps no one for me to lose my temper all day long. It helps no one when I seethe with rage at him because I can’t let go of my anger. It helps no one when I bemoan the fact that I am not the parent I was sure I’d be before he was born.
The only thing I can do is take a step back and regroup. I can start over. I’m the adult, I need to change my approach to him. So last night I bought A book about parenting a defiant child and I need to brush back up on 1-2-3 Magic and I need to remember T isn’t my adversary, he isn’t my nemesis. He’s my kid. And most of the time I think he’s pretty damn great.
The other big thing is we need to figure out a break for me. I get that SAHMs have been doing their thing stoically for years. But I am not stoic. I’m a selfish baby. A selfish baby who has not had a full day away from her kids since they were born. I’ve never had a night away from them, the only nights I wasn’t with T were while I was in the hospital having C. I need to get away for a full 24 hours. Really, I need more than that. But I’m going to start with more attainable goals. The problem with this SAHM gig is you are on call 24 hours a day forever. Yes, every parent is on call that way. But the ones that work have other obligations as well. Z gets to travel for work a hell of a lot. He gets nights in hotel rooms, just this Sunday he was in Philly for the day. His work event was only 4 hours, and it was a grueling day, dont’ get me wrong. But he also got to eat breakfast at Reading Terminal Market and visit the Liberty Bell. He had fun. He did stuff that interested him and didn’t have to think about the damn kids at all. He is a committed partner when it comes to raising our kids, but he has a rich life away from us as well. I’m glad he does. I just want one myself.
Ok, I know I sound like a spoiled whiney brat here. I don’t really give a shit. I’m not a perfect mom. I’m not a perfect person. I need to get some good solid rest so I can give my boys what they need. I need to regroup. Because raising a couple of decent humans is the most important work I will do in my life. I shall not fuck it up, thank you very much.
And it does take a village, people. Special thanks to J and C, our closest friends here in Syracuse who came over on Sunday night while Z was away and helped me out when I really thought I was going to lose my shit. They rock. After spending a few minutes here J asked, “How is it you haven’t killed T today?” I told her some of the adorable things he’d done that day. His cuteness does save him sometimes.