when life throws crayons at you7:55 AM
I feel that all too often we are presented with two very one-sided views of parenting; there is the "it's a total crap shoot all the time" view or the "glory, glory, glory all day long it's nothing but glory." For me, more often than not it's somewhere in the middle. True there are some days that are truly glorious and tantrum free. On the other hand there are also days that I lock myself in the bathroom and day dream of a Thelma & Louise type of escape (sometimes I'll throw in dying my hair blonde and changing my name to something charming like Wendy). Parenting a toddler is rocking my world and throwing me for a total loop. There is no book on earth that could have prepared me for the work involved in molding, directing, fostering, cherishing and protecting a person of such tiny stature but such a vast mind and multi-faceted soul. Navigating this path between allowing her personality to blossom and reigning in the id to some degree is more exhausting than anything I've ever experienced.
In one swoop this barely two foot tall person can strip you of all your dignity, make you feel completely inadequate as a human being and leave you feeling utterly helpless.
This past weekend papa bear and I drove home in silence after having escaped what was to be a lovely family dinner. The meltdown began mere minutes after we had ordered and so I hid in the ladies bathroom (to the sounds of angry cries and a lot of food stomping) while papa bear boxed up all of our food and signed the check. We were officially "those people." And yes, I noticed every glare.
Once we had some time to regain composure we began a conversation we've had way to many times about "well we really do need to start some sort of disciplining plan." Because toddlerhood really sneaks up on you. It's so incredibly difficult to go from dealing with a baby where any time they cry because they need something you must react immediately and give them what they want to dealing with a toddler where you essentially must learn to do the opposite. And I know it's difficult for Birdie too, to grasp why all of a sudden her every whim and desire is not being responded to in the way that she has become accustomed to. It's hard for all of us. And some days (lately it feels like most days) I feel like I fail. I want to be both firm and loving and finding that perfect balance is next to impossible so I either feel like the worst mother ever because I've been a door mat or once again the worst mother ever because I had to be firm and witness tantrum after tantrum in response.
Parenting is frustrating and exhausting and will bring you to your knees. But it is also rewarding in ways that nothing else can even remotely compare to. It's not all picking out cute outfits and cutting sandwiches into animal shapes. It's really hard work that will drain you of all your blood, sweat and tears. Yes, children are glorious. They're imaginations are magical and their smiles and laughter can ward off even the worst of moods but they are also people who will one day grow up to be a grown woman or man and you will bear responsibility for just what kind of woman or man they are. Not total responsibility (the age old "nurture vs. nature" debate can rage on for centuries) but still, I think most of us dream of being able to feel like we "raised them right" at the end of the day. And unfortunately, the "raising" doesn't only happen while having a jolly time reading books and playing peek-a-boo it also happens when you tell them that they can't have any more apple juice and they must finish their dinner or when you try and teach them that tearing into every packaged toy at Target is not appropriate.
Sometimes I wish child rearing was as effortless as it was for the Dowager Countess ("Yes, but it was an hour EVERY DAY!), where I could just waltz into parenting for the lovely instagram worthy moments of joyous play or show up when it's time to run through a field of daisies. Instead I am here 24/7 for the middle of the night wake ups and the meltdowns and the dance parties and the heartwarming moments as well as the horrifying ones. Because children aren't toys, they're people and they have bad days too and yes, they can be downright mean sometimes and you have the honor of getting to witness it all.
My parents tell me this too shall pass and I believe them. There were days when Birdie was a newborn where I was sure I couldn't survive another week and yet the entire newborn phase was over in the blink of an eye. So I know the tantrum phase will pass and she will mature and learn to express herself better. But I also know that with the passing of one phase comes the next and it is often more difficult than the last and so what are we left with? I'm not going to pretend to know. All I can say is what I've been doing, which is - taking it one day at a time and cherishing the good and doing my best to change the bad or just have more patience. And sometimes I just eat a lot of candy and then reward myself with a meal from McDonald's (did you know you can get a free "snack size" McFlurry with any large meal??? AH-MAZING!!!)