T Saves the Day

Class starts in about 6 hours, just when my parent’s plane is supposed to land in Syracuse. I need to be cleaning the kitchen and writing a grocery list. So naturally I’ve decided to blog. The last couple of days have been supremely unpleasant. While I pride myself on being self aware when it comes to the mental illness I’ve been blindsided by the staggering anxiety surrounding this silly class. Two days ago I was getting myself a coffee treat at a shop two blocks from my house with the boys. As the woman was making the glorious, frozen, whipped cream covered, completely unnecessary and ridiculously expensive concoction I started thinking I might come to the shop to do my homework at some point this semester. Instantly my bowels liquified.

I hustled those kids out of there fast and high tailed it home. Didn’t even pause the 5 seconds so T could pick up his fishing pole (broken stick he found on the walk over) that he left outside the coffee shop. What a huge mistake. We got across the street before he realized we didn’t grab it and he howled the rest of the way home, throwing himself on the ground twice. Which took a hell of a lot more time than stopping for the stick would have in the first place. I was covered in a cold sweat by the time we got back and then he refused to enter the house. It took almost half an hour to calm him down once we were inside.

A small victory is I’ve managed to get through the week so far without taking a chill pill. But I’m violently reminded why I hate rocking the boat. Any change, even good change, is so fucking overwhelming for me. The anxiety starts to convince me that I’m not stronge enough to take a stupid class. I think about other people who can try new things without completely falling apart and I’m eaten up with jealousy and self loathing. Then I think about how much easier it would be if I wasn’t taking this class. How this week would be full of blissful sameness and safety if I didn’t put myself out there. But that safety wouldn’t really be blissful. It would be suffocating. Both choices actually have negative and positive repercussions. Choosing to live life has more of both, I made the right choice.

Yesterday I went back to the coffee shop for another drink I can’t afford. T didn’t want to do, I had to force him. It had been a rough day for him and me. He hit his brother for no reason multiple times, he wouldn’t listen to me, I was done with him. He was freaking out while I was on the phone with my sister-in-law and I didn’t have the emotional fortitude to redirect or engage him or do any other positive parenting and I didn’t even give a shit that I was being a bad mom for an audience. I’d been trying all morning and I was done. After the call I told him we were getting Mommy a coffee drink. He whined and said he wasn’t going. I told him he could either come or we’d stay at home and he would have a nap in his room. He put his shoes on.

On the way down the driveway he asked if I remembered him crying the day before because we didn’t get the fishing pole. I told him I did remember and that I was very sorry for not stopping. Unprompted he told me he was sorry, too. We had a great walk to the shop, and damned if that broken stick wasn’t still on the sidewalk in front of the shop. I let him take it inside after he promised to be careful and he fished for stuff while we waited for my drink to be made. He handed me imaginary napkins, fish, Baby C, birds and I pretended to put all the things away in my pockets. It was awesome. On the walk home he told me that he had so much fun at the coffee shop. It was time for his siesta when we got home. I put Sesame Street on for him while I put C down for his nap. A few minutes later I came down and hung out on the sofa with T. I ended up drifting off for a nap of my own. I’m not an attractive sleeper, I snore, I drool, I thrash around. My shirt rode up during my snooze exposing my stomach. When I woke up T reached over and touched my flabby and stretch mark covered skin. “Mommy, your belly is bootiful.” Toddlers are hard, and my belly is anything but beautiful, but god damnit, sometimes the unconditional way that they love is more healing than anything I can possibly imagine.

Monday was Z’s first day of classes. He has freshman for the first time at SU this semester, as well as sophomores and seniors. 
And here’s my back to school picture from this morning.  

A huge branch came down in our yard yesterday. I guess the chainsaw I didn’t want him to get does come in handy sometimes…
This is my favorite chainsaw.
Our sweet little house got a bit of a facelift this summer. Z remade the porch railing to match the latticework on the sides and the porch and front entrance got a fresh coat of paint. Now if we could only afford to get the asbestos shingles abated and restore the original clapboards that are underneath….
Advertisements

Too Much?

How much is too much to share on a blog?

Damned if I know. I did spend the day feeling moderately sick to my stomach about yesterday’s post. I’ve been sure that my excellent Mom friends read about me losing my cool with disgust and locking my toddler in his room with horror. Someone rightly pointed out to me that I don’t actually have to admit to my parenting failures publicly and write posts where I call my kid swear words. That someday he is going to be old enough to read this stuff and he’ll have feelings about it.

I’ve done a shitload of thinking today. Some serious navel gazing. And here’s what I’ve come up with:

It is effortless for me to write about my self loathing issues. I know it’s not fun to read, but it is a major part of my struggles with mental illness and I own it. I’ve said a million times that the reason I’m doing this blog is to write about taboos, what we don’t tend to talk about in polite company. We all go through hard stuff, isn’t it helpful to address it rather than pretending in doesn’t happen?

The parenting fuck ups are different. I take this motherhood gig seriously. It isn’t about me, it is about providing a good upbringing for my sons. So it is much harder to be forthright about my mistakes. T is not being a dick in a vacuum. 1-2-3 Magic  explains that when you are yelling at your kid you are throwing a tantrum yourself. When I first read that I thought, “Oh, that isn’t fair. What about when they are purposely pushing your buttons? Of course you are going to explode in frustration.” But I sat with it for a while and reached the conclusion that the book was 100% right. Sometimes the truth is just really hard to swallow.

I try to be a thoughtful parent, but occasionally I lose sight of my goals and get lost wading through the muck of everyday life. But I don’t believe I’m the only one. I mean, that would be too awful to live with. Even my excellent Mom friends must occasionally fuck up. But as long as we are aware that we are failing and we try to change for the better isn’t it that what matters? And shouldn’t we be talking about the awful stuff? Maybe sharing war stories so we don’t feel so alone? Each kid is different and needs a unique approach, but talking amongst ourselves can only help with ideas, right?

Discussing my failings here feels right as long as I’m striving to do better even if it makes me feel vulnerable. Blogging has become a helpful outlet for me, but it is also terrifying to admit the truth. I feel like I’ll get my “Thoughtful Parent” card revoked for confessing that I suck. I’ve been planning on writing about that damned turned lock since last fall. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it because it felt even more loaded than the sleep training. I even started a post about it titled “And I’m Not Even Going To Apologize”, but I didn’t have the balls to finish. You see, we don’t leave him there for extended periods, the room is child proofed, we needed him to stay in his room at bedtime, there is a training potty in there so he doesn’t have accidents. Yes, I am justifying. The thing is, I don’t feel bad about the choice Z and I have made. We simply don’t have the emotional bandwidth to do timeouts with him. C can’t just sit in a bouncy seat anymore (the guilt I feel about him doing just that for his first 5 months while I chased after T is another post entirely). I know what is right for each of my kids. We don’t parent on autopilot, we consider what each boy needs. I don’t believe T will be damaged in any way by our method of discipline. I just feel bad about how others will perceive it. It’s a good exercise, sharing something that scares me. Reminds me not to judge other people’s choices too hastily.

And about T reading this some day…..Right now he isn’t yet three and he’s going through so-typical-it-is-almost-boring developmental bumps in the road. At a certain point I need to respect his privacy, several blogs I follow stopped discussing their kids in detail when they turned 5 and that makes sense to me. They are developing into conscience-having beings at that point. They deserve to lead their childhood in private.

I’m going to screw up being a Mom. I’m also going to try and be brave enough to write about it in the hopes that another Mom might read it and feel less alone or even pass along some advice if she’s been there and done that. I’m going to admit to tough parenting choices we’ve made. We thoughtfully let our kid cry it out. We thoughtfully didn’t let our other kid cry it out. If our son throws a toy taxi at his dad and it hits me instead we are sending him to time out in his room. And if he won’t stay in there we are locking that door. On the other hand, when I make a parenting choice I’m not happy with (losing my cool and yelling at the kid in frustration) I’m going to take a hard look at myself and try to change. And I’m probably going to write about it all of it.

Hey! I have an 11 month old baby! Did you know? Because I hardly ever write about him. The bigger struggles have been with his brother lately. This picture is from last night. He was tired and hungry because dinner was late. Yes, this is my baby being cranky. 

Here he is being his usual happy self. Kid loves rice and beans.

And his Daddy. 

This one is singing his heart out. 
Listen, even the crap days are filled with a lot of awesome. T mostly saves his worst behavior for home, which I understand is completely normal. Overall he is a delightful and bright little boy who climbs into bed with us every morning for cuddles. Today while on a walk with a friend he even said, “Excuse me!” before interrupting our conversation. I was very proud.
His favorite song.

How Did We Let Ourselves Get Here?

Last night after the kids finally stayed down for good Z and I got nice and drunk, and splurged on mozzarella sticks and wings from our local pizza place. Because of the journal I’ve been reminiscing about the life we used to have in New York and kind of mourning it afresh. Parenting an unruly toddler while hung over sucks (completely my own fault, I know), but you know what? I had fun last night. A whole lot of fun. It’s ok to miss the kind of fun we used to have, but it’s important to remember life now isn’t less fun, just different.

I’m trying to focus on the fun stuff.

It helps me keep my mind off how embarrassingly awful yesterday afternoon and early evening were. No one in our house behaved properly. Ok, to be fair C was fine. But T yelled, I yelled, Z yelled. The kind of yelling that the neighbors could hear. I know because we heard T loud and clear as we were taking out the garbage. Yes, suddenly we are those people. I sort of don’t want to show my face on our block ever again. I’ve been chronicling the deterioration of T’s behavior for months. There will be weeks where he does better, but the overall trend is jerk-ville. We’ve been counting to 3 and then giving him a time out since he was less than a year old. Back then the time out was just holding him in place for 10 seconds. For a long time it was putting him in the exersaucer for a minute or two. But a few months ago we started sending him to his room or the steps and he wouldn’t stay put. Which has emboldened him to misbehave in other ways. Managing his bad behavior would be a hell of a lot easier if we weren’t also caring for a baby who has become mobile himself.

We’ve gone from being the parents who calmly and consistently deal with bad behavior to the ones who just lose their shit, and yell all over the place. T is rewarded by seeing us so worked up-getting a rise out of us is what he wants. We aren’t following through properly when he behaves badly because it is hard to make sure a kid stays in time out when you are also trying to make dinner while watching an 11 month old who is crawling into the dishwasher.

I’m not trying to justify my own bad behavior. I’m not helping things by throwing temper tantrums right along side T. Dealing with an almost 3 year old and and almost 1 year old is the hardest parenting has been so far. You kind of get lulled into thinking you are rocking this multi-kid parenting gig when the second baby is new. Except for nursing and changing diapers that baby requires very little. You certainly don’t have to negotiate every fucking little thing. It’s the negotiating that wears you out. For ages T was an awesome sleeper with a predictable 20 minute bedtime routine. And over the course of a year in which he learned to whine and beg and manipulate we’ve realized that bedtime takes over an hour and we have no idea how we’ve let things get so bad.

When Z got home yesterday it was a breaking point for all of us. Our current situation is completely unsustainable. T is an asshole and we are enabling him. So we have a new plan. No more yelling. No more negotiating. We calmly tell him to stop his behavior or he will go to time out for a specific amount of time. Like if it is close to lunch until lunch. Or until Mommy cleans the kitchen. Or until Mommy turns the a/c on and gets C up from his nap. The length of time isn’t huge-5 or 10 minutes. But we get a break and time to regroup. He sees there are serious repercussions for his behavior and we don’t try to talk things to death and reason with someone who isn’t emotionally mature enough to participate. I think the next few days are going to be incredibly hard on all of us. But after a week or so I hope to see a change in his behavior. If not we will try something else.

Part of what is making this approach possible is the fact that the lock on his door is turned around. I know, I know. We lock the kid in his room, we must be monsters. We turned the lock around last fall. The transition to his big boy bed was pretty damn smooth. But after a month or so he figured he could get out of his room. So we nipped that in the bud. And then, over the course of several months, we started leaving it unlocked at night. He handles it pretty well. Most of the time he doesn’t open the door, or if he does we tell him if he does it again the door is getting locked. And if we do lock it we just unlock it on the way up to bed for the night. But during this period we are showing him we mean business with the locked door. He isn’t going to get us to change our minds about giving time outs no matter how impressive his tantrums are.

We have been bullied by his tantrums and threats of tantrums during C’s naps and bedtime. The last thing we want is for the baby’s sleep to be interrupted. But for the next few days we need to let that go. T is tantruming it up in his room as I write this. And C is taking a nap. At least I hope he is, he might wake at any second. T wants me to bring a specific shirt up to his room for naptime. He’s using it as a stalling technique. I told him no. His freak out is so impressive that I am dying to get him the shirt to shut him up. But 1-2-3 Magic (it’s a great book) is right, if I get the shirt for him I’m teaching him his tantrums will be rewarded.

So yes, we are in the middle of a rough patch. Ultimately I think we are going to be grateful that we had the boys so close together. But right now they both require a massive amount of hands on time. It is frustrating to know that we never would have let T’s behavior get so out of control if he was the only kid we had to worry about. But that isn’t really the answer either-letting him be the sole center of our universe. We are teaching him that there are other people in this world who have needs that are just as valid as his own.

Who knows, maybe this won’t work. But Z and I are committed to finding something that does. I know we will figure this out. We need to not just for our sanity, but because we want to teach him to be a decent person. Damn, this motherhood gig is hard. If possible go hug your parents, people. They deserve it.

 A lot of our day is spent having fun. Here he is dancing with his shadow while we were watching a digger tear up the lawn across the street because of a sewage problem. 
This has been out front several times over the last few days. The joke never gets old.

He majorly digs finger painting.

Playing and singing with his Daddy who just finished making those ukes.

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

This weekend was a rough one at Chez Cordano-Leonard. Seems like a good time to post the “Being a Toddler Sucks” thing I started on March 27th of this year and never finished. Four months later we are struggling with the same shit.

————————————————————————–

Last Friday T, C, and I hosted the playgroup we are part of at our house.

(Can I start with another tangent? I resisted playgroups for a long time. I didn’t want to make friends based solely on the fact that the people were parents because I didn’t want my identity to be that tied to being a mom. And then I grew the hell up and realized that I didn’t have to be best friends with every mom I meet, and that when you make friends there is usually a commonality so who gives a fuck if that commonality is parenthood? I know many wonderful people who don’t have kids and who also managed to grow up, but clearly I was unable to be one of them. Mothering has been a kick in the pants for me, I’m still a self absorbed jerk, but I’m less of one now that I have kids. Kind of shameful, but at least the growing up is happening, you know, in my mid 30s. So yes, I love the playgroup.)

One of the moms has a son who just turned one. She heard me “counting” at T as a disciplinary technique and she asked when I started that. We had a conversation about it and she noted that it really has worked for T and that he does a great job listening. I said something like, “Well, he has a really long way to go.”

A few minutes later I realized how incredibly unfair that was to him, so I found my way back to her and thanked her for complimenting his behavior and said I agreed that he was doing well. My expectations for him are high. And my reaction was colored by a really rough week. T’s teacher told me that kids often experience a major backslide in behavior when a sibling gets very sick, so he’s coming by his behavior honestly. But his father and I have been ready to wring his adorable little neck.

There is a lot going on in T’s world right now that is awesome. He is lucky enough to go to an amazing preschool, he has a father who absolutely revels in spending time with him, his grandparents who he adores are here for a visit, and now that his brother and he go down for naps around the same time and there is only one of me he gets to watch a video in the early afternoon while I nurse C to sleep upstairs. Life is damn good for this kid. At least that is what I’m constantly telling myself. I also tell myself that I would love to trade places with him. I’d love to spend all day playing, to have everyone else cater to my sleep schedule, to have all my meals prepared, to get snacks whenever the hell I want them, to have someone there to kiss my boo-boos when I fall down, to nap every day.

But the truth is being a toddler sucks. He is desperately trying to figure out his place in this world and our family. He wants to know what he can get away with, it is his job to push boundaries. Suddenly he is shouting “No!” in an incredibly disrespectful way at us and at our friends. A few months ago he started telling us he didn’t want stuff. Like his book before bed or his drink of water or even his dessert. And the second we say, “OK, no dessert.” He shouts, “I WANT DESSERT!” What he wants is to see how long he can get away with jerking us around or how long he can drag out the bedtime routine. We’ve been proactive. We’ve explained to him that if he says “No!” to something we’ll give him to the count of three to change his mind, but then we are going with what he said. He’s getting it, not all the time, but he is getting that we will not spend our entire day indulging his every whim.

The “Whys?” have started as well. “Why can’t I have a bath now?” “Why can’t I say ‘No!’ to you?” “Why can’t I have a chip?” Sometimes I completely fail. I tell him, “Because I said so!” But a lot of the time I answer the questions as well as I can. Sometimes he is stalling with the questions, but he is also actually trying to figure stuff out. It sucks for him that I get to say, “No!” all day long and he can’t say it back to me. It sucks that I’m in charge and he has to listen to me, even if I explain that it is my job to tell him “No!” so he can learn how to be a responsible and kind person.

Some days I feel bad for him, some days I wallow and feel bad for myself for being stuck with him, and some days I do manage to feel grateful. He is hilarious and cuddly and holy shit, the other day I was trying to nurse C before his nap while T was supposed to be watching a video downstairs. Suddenly I saw him wander by C’s bedroom door, naked from the waist down. The moment he came into my sightline a little nugget of poo fell from his bottom. That stuff is the comedy gold and it helps get me through the rough days.

I love my frustrating, frustrated, joyful, confused, pissed off, amazing little boy.

And now it’s time for a quick “No Shampoo” update. 
Front view.
I’ve been shampoo free for more than 8 months. This summer has been pretty frustrating. Part of the reason is I’m still shedding so much that I’ll be completely bald come fall. My initial postpartum shedding started when C was about 3-4 months and continued for several more months, but slowed down at the beginning of the year. Around that time I started taking the low hormone birth control pill. I now remember that when I was 16 and started the pill I had terrible shedding. In March I started losing hair again, and it hasn’t slowed. It has been pretty awful.

**Update** The shedding has nothing to do with how I wash my hair. Sorry for any confusion. 

Side view.
But there have also been issues with the cleaning process. Initially I used 1 T of baking soda. I’ve now cut that in half because it was so drying on my scalp it started giving me dandruff. Not cool. I’ve also had to wash with baking soda/apple cider vinegar every other day or so (down from every four days) because my hair is getting dirty and greasy in the heat. I’m still sticking with it because I know I was unhappy with conventional shampoo when I was using it and I really don’t want to go back. On pinterest a friend pinned a link to this technique, and I might give it a try. If I do I’ll let you guys know how it works. 
Back view.
These pictures aren’t filtered in any way. Just no flash in our 3rd floor bathroom. They would have been better if I’d gone downstairs to grab my comb. But the uncombed look is definitely more honest, and that my friends, is what this blog is all about. So it’s still pretty darn shiny, which is nice. Just ignore the fact that I need a trim, and that I’m, you know, balding. Anyway, I’d still recommend the technique. Be aware that you need to pay attention and constantly tinker with the amounts. If anyone has specific questions I’d be happy to answer away.

My Charming Son

A few weeks ago I heard Z say to T, “You have to tell Mommy what you just told me!”. T was standing in the middle of the kitchen naked with his underwear in a lump at his feet when I walked over to them. “MOMMY!” he shouted. “I went to the bathroom! And I didn’t pee on my hands! I get a square cookie!”

I totally lost my shit. “You didn’t pee on your hands? THAT IS AMAZING! I can’t wait to give you a cookie after you eat lunch!” It was the highlight of my morning. But the I started thinking about it and I wondered how we fucking got to that point. How was I celebrating the fact my kid did not wipe pee all over himself? Had pee wiping really become normal expected behavior in our lives? Um, yes. Yes it had.

Let me back up a bit. By the time the morning in question happened T hadn’t had a treat in about 3 weeks. Because one day he just started rubbing both hands all over his junk after he peed, so that last little bit of urine was spread all over the place. At first I freaked out. But as we established on the comment thread on FB from this post that is a really lousy response (thanks again for your help, friends). So I managed to remain calm and inform him he didn’t get dessert. Every single time he peed. Dude loves his treats, but evidently he loved wiping pee all over himself much more. Until one day he was ready to stop, and since that morning he hasn’t done it again. He’s decided he likes to take a square or two of toilet paper and dab himself dry, which is a little weird, but whatever. It’s harmless.

I’m out of my league here folks. I don’t understand how to effectively parent an almost three year old. And frankly, I don’t enjoy doing it. The ability to reason with him does not exist. He just does whatever he wants to do and it drives us crazy. We discipline him over and over but the bad behavior remains until he arbitrarily decides to cut it out. Z and I feel so completely helpless. After we returned from our trip down south Z and I had a therapy session. We hadn’t been in over a month and our guy asked how we were doing as we sat down. I said, “My son is a dick.” He looked over at Z, who tends to be the less dramatic of the two of us and was clearly expecting to hear that I was exaggerating. Z very calmly said, “He is a total dick.” Our shrink laughed nervously.

Bratty kids drive me nuts. They turn into bratty teens and bratty adults. I swore I’d never ever have a brat for a child. What’s the old saying? The best way to make god laugh is to tell her your plans? T is a total brat. And it makes me feel like a failure. I’m not sure if this is nature or nurture, but it drives me so crazy. And a crazy me is not a helpful me. When we were visiting my parents my wonderful cousin and his family were there as well. He and his wife have two little girls and T terrorized them. My cousin and his wife were pretty relaxed about his shitty behavior, but I really let it get to me. Which he recognized so he kept it up. I really hate myself for making a moderately crappy situation much worse. But I couldn’t bear that he was being mean, so I just couldn’t leave well enough alone. If addressing the bad behavior makes it worse what the hell am I supposed to do?

He is rude and willful and cruel. He’s experimenting with telling people he doesn’t like or love them. He is physically aggressive with his brother. The bottom line is I’m embarrassed and frankly hurt by his awful behavior. Nothing seems to get through to him. We speak calmly and he ignores us. We yell and he laughs at us. We do time out and he doesn’t give a shit. We take stuff away and he cries, but doesn’t adjust his behavior. He’s frustrated at us and we are frustrated at him.

Part of the reason that I’ve been writing about Z so much is it is easier to blog about the stuff in my life that is actually going pretty well. I started writing this post the morning that T didn’t pee on his hand, but just couldn’t bring myself to finish. One of the many unfinished posts I’m working on is from months ago, I revisit it ever few weeks. It’s about how hard it is to be a toddler. Because even though I’m angry and venting here I understand he’s also having a difficult time. Figuring out your place in this world in an enormous undertaking. And he is sweet and fun as well as being a pain in the ass. During C’s nap time T constantly asks when he is going to get up. Of course when C is around he does things like cover him in a blanket and squeeze him. That was a fun moment. But he also gently touches him or pops C’s pacifier back in his mouth or gives him a toy. He gets in bed with us in the morning and cuddles. He begs us to play with him, he really wants to interact with us and I know the day is coming when he won’t want to do that.

I know he won’t be a toddler forever (thank fucking god), I know that the only constant is change. This is just a particularly unpleasant stage. I need to not capitulate to his unacceptable behavior. We let him get away with being a brat now and he’ll just keep on being a brat. And though god might be doubled up laughing right now I proclaim I will not have a bratty school aged kid!

OK, he’s a dick, but he’s also pretty adorable.
I mean, look at his sweet and fierce concentration while reading at the library.
 And his wacky humidity curls.
And his very first temporary tattoo, which he simultaneously wanted and didn’t want.
His astronaut brother ain’t bad either.
Listen, please don’t get me wrong, I love my kid. I also like my kid. Many days he does really well in the behavior department. And when we are around other little people who aren’t being perfect angels it really doesn’t bug me. Hell, it’s easier when the kid your son is playing with is the one misbehaving. When it isn’t your responsibility bad behavior is much less stressful. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be addressed, it should, but it also isn’t the end of the world. T is a lot of fun and is a good kid much of the time. But I won’t sugar coat what goes on in our lives after trying to be honest while writing here. He’s being a jerk. A lot. And while letting it get under my skin is a major disservice to him, it is still my responsibility to guide him toward better behavior. I seriously need to figure how the fuck to do that. 

No Matter What

One of my constant refrains to T is, “I will always love you, no matter what.” Sometimes I say it out of the blue, often I say it when I am disciplining him so he knows that even if I’m really pissed at him the fact that I love him will never change. A couple of days ago I posted this status on facebook:

I was telling C that I love him. T was watching and with the casual cruelty that is the specialty of an almost 3 year old he told me that he does NOT love me. What a turd.

That moment was sort of a kick-off of a string of really hurtful incidents by my little guy. Z has been spending a ton of time with him because we are on vacation, and T couldn’t be happier-his dad has been his favorite person on the planet for as long as T has understood what people are. A bonus is I’ve been free to give C some rare individual attention. Tomorrow Z is getting on a plane and we won’t meet up with him for almost a week. So his being on T duty is killing two birds with one stone-they won’t see each other for a while so they need the together time and it’s giving me a break before I am traveling alone with the two boys while driving stick shift (which I’m still not confident doing) for long distances. But the less time I spend with T, the more he couldn’t give a crap about me.

Mom, C, and I took a rather grueling one day there-and-back jaunt to Charleston to see my Grandma, who will be 91 this week. It was worth it to watch my Gram laughing with the baby we named after her late husband. On the drive home my Mom said that she bet T missed me a lot. I laughed and told her I’d bet $5 he didn’t ask after me once. We questioned Z when we got back, turns out Mom owes me the money.

The next morning I went into T’s room when he woke up. I asked him if he missed me the day before and he told me, “No.” I asked if he missed C and he said, “No.” I asked if he missed his Grandma and he said, “I did.” Ouch. Later that day he wouldn’t touch me. No hugs, no cuddles, no kisses. We are huge physical affection people. He was still touching his dad, he just wanted nothing to do with me. And he was really mean about it. I had to fight back the tears as Z yelled at him to hug and kiss me. Which is kind of funny when you think about it. The answer to him withdrawing from me is obviously not to force him into unwanted affection that he’ll only grow to resent. But damnit, when he did finally and reluctantly hug me it felt good.

My unfortunate impulse when it comes to T’s behavior is to blame myself for messing up somehow. I’m too strict and it’s making him hate me. I’m not strict enough and he’s walking all over me. We are those crazy over-physically affectionate people and though he can happily cuddle all day with Z, I creep him out. He simply doesn’t like who I fundamentally am as a human being. But the reality is I cannot afford to indulge the crazy when it comes to parenting. And that is the biggest gift of this whole motherhood gig. It’s not like becoming a mom instantly cured me, more like I feel compelled to try harder for the boys. Sometimes it works, sometimes I fail miserably. But mental illness isn’t something one can conquer just by trying hard enough. Good lord, were it only that simple. And for once I am clear headed enough to understand the failure isn’t what matters, it really is the effort. I will lose the battle with that ugly voice in my head over and over, yet as long as I’m trying to fight back it’s ok. This time I was able to overcome the voice and convince myself that it really isn’t me. It is T. He’s testing to see what he can get away with. He’s pushing hard. And even though it hurts, even though it makes me cry, I still need to tell him over and over that I love him. No matter what.

 Watching this was more than worth 9 uncomfortable hours in a car.
 Man, do I love this lady.
 My little turd enjoying a butterscotch krimpet. Tastykakes are required eating in our family. My folks are from PA.
Amazing, blissful vacation. 

Frustration

This day started out with a lot of promise. I mean, C has been getting up at 5:30, so that sort of sucks, but other than that it was a nice morning. My in-laws have been in town, which means we’ve been doing home improvement stuff, always a good thing. I had a particularly good therapy session at 10am. And when I got home Z took his folks to the airport while the boys and I had an early lunch and then fooled around in the sprinkler. I have a massage scheduled for 4pm, a major treat. Z ran into work for the afternoon. I just needed to deal with nap time.

T picked out Return of the Jedi to watch while I got C down, and he asked for two more minutes when I came downstairs. I told him no problem. When I went to collect him I saw that he’d peed on the couch. In two places.

He did it yesterday for the first time in a week. He wasn’t angry at me, rather he was mad that his brother touched his collection of diggers. You guys rock and the advice you gave me on the facebook link was especially amazing. Thank you times a million. I didn’t lose my cool yesterday, didn’t let him see me sweat. I clearly told him if he did it again he would have to wear diapers duct taped on. I made him continue to sit on the couch for a few minutes. And I asked if he wanted to do time out on the stairs with me sitting next to him or in his room. He opted for the stairs, so I sat with him. All things considered, I thought it went really well.

Today I let him turn off the TV (his ritual) and took him upstairs where I grabbed a pull up and the duct tape (We tape them to the diaper, obviously not to his skin. If we didn’t do this he’d just pull the diaper off). When he understood what was going to happen he lost his shit. Like major huge awful tantrum. I let him cry, I told him he was being punished for peeing and I understood he was upset, punishments are really upsetting. I didn’t get angry, but I told him he was allowed to be angry. This went on for about 20 minutes. He begged to go to the bathroom the whole time. I told him he was free to go in the diaper. He doesn’t do extended tantrums, so I started to second guess myself. Even though he’d just peed I worried he’d hurt himself from holding it. So I told him we could go to the bathroom, but he’d have to have a diaper on again afterwards.

After he peed, and he really had to force himself to do it (I shouldn’t have worried-his bladder was pretty empty) he asked for a diaper rather than a pull up. I told him to wait in his room and I’d run downstairs to get one. When I returned to his room that little fucker had managed to squeeze a few drops of pee onto his bed. Somehow I managed not to freak out all over him. I told him that was fine, I wasn’t changing the sheets, he could sleep in the pee or on the floor. And I wrestled him into the diaper and footie PJs on backwards. He begged me to change the sheets and I told him no and left.

Back downstairs I listened to him melt down and tried to call Z, but couldn’t reach him. Thankfully my sister picked up when I called her. She couldn’t talk because of work, but she listened anyway. I told her I couldn’t fucking do this. His reaction to the situation was so outrageous that I felt like I was damaging him for life. She said all the right things and she just listened. After I got off the phone I went back up and offered to lie down with him for a few minutes. He was asleep within 5.

There are days when I feel like I have no fucking idea what I am doing here. I think I am inflicting huge damage on him, I feel totally clueless, I feel like the whole SAHM thing is a terrible idea, they’d do better in day care. I feel useless and hopeless and frustrated as hell. At T’s parent teacher conference last Tuesday his teacher told us he was more emotionally mature than his classmates, that he was able to recognize when the other kids were upset and he was also able to articulate his own feelings. So what the fuck is going on with the peeing on the sofa? I just don’t get it.

Drinking from the sprinkler about an hour before peeing on the sofa.
 My fabulous sister-in-law was in town this weekend with her lovely wife. Obviously, she the rest of the photos are her work.
 This one cracks me up.
We look like such a normal family here…
Sorry if this is riddled with typos, got to get to that massage. Hopefully it’ll help put me right. Frankly, the blog venting is already helping. Thanks for indulging me by reading, friends.