Kids and Pets

Here’s my two cents: Have a kid and considering a pet? Are you insane? Isn’t your home already in chaos? If not, do you want it to be?

This has been my two cents on kids and pets.

(has a kid. has pets. knows about these things.)

Losing It

Most of the time it’s easy for me to remember that this little kiddo has no idea how infuriating he’s being. Besides some things he does that should be aggravating (and certainly would be if anyone else did them) are even a little charming. So, while I wouldn’t describe myself as patient, I’m much more tolerant than I ever thought I could be.

However, sometimes, usually when I’m running late and ALL my buttons have been pressed all morning long, I just lose it and start screaming like a banshee. It’s not often, it’s not effective and I feel like an idiot afterwards, but I honestly think it’s my only choice in the moment.

Scene:

After trying to dress a child who has played collapsing noodle boy, run away constantly and changed his mind 16 times about what he wants for breakfast, we are dressed, 10 minutes late and heading out the door. He decides he wants to bring two of his action figures in the car.

C: I want the two that I don’t have and/or haven’t seen for the last year.

Me: You don’t have him and the other one is missing.

C But I WANT them.

Me: Pick something else.

C: OK I’ll take the one that does not exist.

Me: That does not exist.

C: But I WA

Me: PICK SOMETHING!!

C: Um

Me: THAT’S IT WE ARE LEAVING

C: NOOOOO

ME: THEN PICK SOMETHING PICK SOMETHING PICKSOMETHING!!!!!!

C: You don’t have to scream at me.

I get to work 15 minutes late with a sore throat and he gets to spend the day with the image of his crazy-eyed mother shrieking nonsensically at him.

Human, Not Rational

Like all parents (I’m sure) I spent most of Christopher’s nonspeaking (small baby) time, trying to interpret and sooth his crying. When he started using actual words, I was SO relieved. It’s like a mystery was solved, and because he could talk, there was much less to cry about. I feel like we spent most of his second year, chatting and getting to know each other. I can honestly say, I found the time delightful! I think he did too.

Now he’s three and the crying is back, along with much of my own bewilderment.

I think I sometimes make the mistake of believing that because my son can now talk like a rational human, he is a rational human. That is not the case.

The other day we had a conversation during which every single thing I said sent him into a fit of despair.

C: I want to go swimming.

Me: Well, it may rain soon, but we can go for a little while.

C: NOOOOOO!!!! sobbing

Me: It’s OK, we can go. It’s not raining right now.

C: NOOOOOO!!!! It’s not going to rain!

Me: OK, it’s not, do you want to go swimming?

C: NOOOOO!! It’s going to rain!!!

Me: …..

Then I realized, I was looking at me. This is exactly how I would react if I wasn’t forced to act like a reasonable adult. And it is an act. Sometimes I will be talking to my husband and I’ll be in a bad mood, and my inner 3 year old will shout, “say NO.” Now, I have just enough power over my inner toddler to understand that it’s being unreasonable, but not enough to stop it, so I say “no” like an adult.

Husband: This looks like it’s going to be one of the rainiest years on record.

Inner 3 year old: No!!!!!

Me: Well, actually, we had much more rain at this point last year.

Understanding this about me, should help me deal with tantrums better, but instead, I think it just makes my inner three year old jealous.

C: I WANT IT!!!

M: I told you no. Now we need to be quiet

C: NOOOO!!!

Inner 3 year old: I WANT TO SCREAM TOO! I WANT TO!!!

No lie, sometimes she wins.

Wahhh

I think there are many who would argue that I have no right to feel overwhelmed. I have ONE child, and he is a good one. The best ever, in my experience. He’s also now potty trained and can express himself, so in actuality, I’ve got it made. It’s true, too. I don’t really have a good excuse to feel overwhelmed, but since that is just how I feel sometimes, I’m just going to have to accept that I don’t need a good excuse. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed because I am a mess, and so is my house. I do what I can to make sure my kid isn’t, and my husband is his own man. If he wants to be a mess, that’s up to him.

This weekend, we got sick again, all of us, and it was all on the heels of rearranging our furniture, so the house was in chaos, I had zero energy and we were all coughing and hacking. I had to call in sick, and that makes me feel guilty. Since Chris was sick too, I didn’t get a chance to relax or recover myself. Wah wah wah.

It’s stuff like that that makes me feel overwhelmed. The unplanned and unexpected. I’m a solutions girl and I like to fix problems. There’s no way to fix a cold, you just have to wait. And, with no energy, there’s no way to fix the chaos that is my house. Large, unexpected bills, sudden travel expenses, real or imagined threats to job, day care or home all these things make me feel anxious and overwhelmed. I actually think there are people who enjoy challenges like that. I’m glad I’m not one of them, except that I suspect I’d be rich if I was.

I used to think of myself as mellow, but I don’t actually think I was. I was just kind of resigned or apathetic. The apathy is definitely gone – replaced by real and honest delight by my son. But since I care about so much more stuff now, it is impossible to be mellow. Oh well. It’s a good trade.

When I feel overwhelmed, I just do what comes naturally. I mean, literally, nature designed us to do this: I conserve energy by letting the housework go to hell and Chris run around in his underwear and a cowboy hat, and I eat a lot of cookies.

I should look into prayer or meditation, yoga, exercise, juicing, crystals, chanting… But I’ve got a fluffy blanket and a box of Oreos, so I’m set for now.

Shhh…. Don’t Tell My Mom

shhh

Don’t tell my mom:

I don’t know what I’m doing.

I don’t know how she did it.

I’m just as scared as I am independent.

I don’t think I’m quite a grown-up.

She was right.

I know I broke her heart.

I’m sorry I broke her heart.

I should call more.

I still try to make her proud.

She made me strong.

Being a mom is the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

I don’t know how she did it five times.

I try to be as strong as she is.

I love her so much.

That, at least, I will tell her myself.

Yes/No

I think I’m generally a pretty laid-back in my parenting style, and I also think that my husband wishes I was a little less laid-back when it comes to discipline or giving Chris things. I was sure I was going to be a super stern mom with a laser-like evil eye even badder than the one my mom used. I didn’t account for my kid’s voodoo, though.

He totally has a spell on me. When he wants something, I want him to have it. When he cries, I want him to feel better. It’s a constant war inside myself trying to determine what’s good for him in the long run versus what’s he wants. And sometimes I think where I draw the line is totally arbitrary and based more on my mood and energy level than on anything concrete.

Interestingly, I always thought my mom saying no was arbitrary and unfair. It’s a relief to know I was probably right about that, but not such a huge one since I am exactly the same way.

There are the basic guidelines of course: No to anything dangerous or destructive or to anything that could be repeated and frowned upon at daycare: bad words, drawing on oneself, peeing in the yard, etc. Yes to reading books, invitations to play, offers to help cook or clean, requests to snuggle (always).

Then there’s everything else, all stuck in the middle somewhere.

And I have to face it, sometimes it just feels good to say yes. A popsicle for breakfast? Why not? They are the 100% juice ones, right? (like that matters, it’s just pure sugar but I grasp at anything I can to be OK with my decision.)

Sometimes Chris will ask for something and if I turn him down he says, “Baybe tomorrow??” In a wistful way that breaks my heart. Have I brushed him off so often that he’s living in the future? (With a much nicer, more accommodating Mommy?) Then I hear the hundreds of mom voices in my head, “Cherish this time you have, it goes by so fast.” And, sobbing, I give him anything he wants. I can be the weird, crying hero mom of the moment and let the future me deal with the potentially spoiled little jerk I am creating.

Devil May Daycare

This is absolutely a touchy subject; to be a stay at home mom or not. Go-to-work-moms, feel judged for leaving their kids with strangers — stay at home moms feel judged for not having a career. I should say, as a GTWM, I am not judging SAHM’s for not having a career. Any negativity you might feel coming off of me is pure jealousy. I do apologize, it’s irrational and involuntary.

I would have loved to be a SAHM, and I sobbed when I had to return to work and drop my baby off the first time. Whether or not to return to work was about as much of a choice for me as whether or not to pay our bills or buy groceries. My husband and I earn about the same salary, and cutting our income by 50% was never really an option. Yes, we could have economized; we could eat bulk rice and dried beans, and give up the luxury of fueling one of our paid-for 8 year old cars. But I had lived on the razor’s edge of bankruptcy before, and that was without a small, cute mouth to feed. Plus, the economy was in the toilet when our kiddo was born, and Jeff’s job was no more guaranteed than mine.

Sense the defensiveness? Totally a touchy subject. There are studies that talk about the benefits of having a parent at home and there are studies that talk about how going to daycare is not harmful in any way to a child. Here’s the thing, though: The benefits of either choice are entirely individual and can’t be made or judged by anyone. Why? Because maybe there is evidence to suggest that the best place for a kid is home with mom, but there is not yet any evidence to suggest that the best place for a kid is home with me (full time). I’m not entirely sure I’m a good influence on small children. And the intimate knowledge of my own short-comings truly helps me make peace with my “decision” to go back to work. That and my ability to purchase and serve noncatfood to my child for dinner (whether or not he eats it).

My son is happy, articulate, well mannered (for a toddler) and imaginative. I love his teachers and his daycare. I always imagine a pioneer woman with a toddler; yeah, she was home with the kid, but she was also grinding wheat and baking bread and weaving clothes and stuff. That kid was not looking at flash cards all day and taking educational trips to the local art museum. And maybe she had to foist her kiddo off to a neighbor for a while so she could go out to the field and thresh or some other old-timey farm thing. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I think that’s true. I just happen to have to pay for my village.