Thursday, December 23, 2010

Not The Worst Mom EVER

This is a time of year when everyone is busy, I know. So while I am not COMPLAINING, I will say that if you have two preschoolers and a still technically in the newborn phase baby and are nonetheless trying to have a fun! and festive! and meaningful! holiday season, you might on occasion feel like your head is about to explode and that NO ONE has any idea how much behind the scenes work goes into keeping the family Christmas in the style to which it's become accustomed. You'll also have the Magical Memory moments, too, of course, and it makes the head-bursting worth it, but the fact remains that your head is no longer intact. (What was that one weird but also weirdly accurate little sing song rhyme I remember little girls saying when I was a kid? Something including the line, "Mama had a baby and her head popped off!" Anyone remember that? Anyways, now I understand the origins of that particular oddity perfectly.)

Jamie isn't sleeping well again, after a week in which he slept for five straight hours every night and I was starting to feel like a normal person again. One night he even slept SEVEN (7) hours in a row. When I woke up I felt like I'd been given crack cocaine or something. So! Much! Energy! But of course then I made the classic mistake of telling a few people that he was sleeping well, and now the last three nights we've been back to three feedings a night and Zombie Mommy in the mornings. Yay.

We're continuing to have a rough time with Eli, also, and my patience is seriously beginning to dwindle re: pooping in pull-ups without even an attempt to use the bathroom. Which happened THREE (3) times yesterday. Oh, and in the bathtub too! I've had a few days lately wherein I felt like between the two boys I did nothing but wipe butts and try to quiet screaming fits. Oh and soak dirty clothes of course.

Eli was being so obstinate at bedtime the other day, running naked from me and screaming, etc., all while Jameson wailed from his crib, that I finally lost it and broke my cardinal rule by smacking his butt to try to get his attention. Naturally, he just screamed even louder, then ran off and smacked his sister. Ah, the vicious cycle of poorly thought out and heat-of-the-moment corporal punishment! Then I sank to the floor of the nursery, trying to console Jamie while the other two ran wild, and cried for awhile, feeling like the worst, most inept mother ever.

I had that feeling in the store the other day, too, when Eli began tantrumming about a three dollar Nerf football identical to the one we have at home. I said no, explained that Christmas was coming and he'd get new toys then, and tried to move on, but he screamed about it the entire. time. we were in the store. He was still wailing at the check out counter when Addy asked if she could have her promised treat of Smarties. I said yes, but that Eli didn't get any since he hadn't been good in the store per the arrangement for treat-getting. I immediately wished I HAD just given him the dang candy when his screaming ramped up again, this time in fury over the candy. But, my auto-pilot parenting kicked in and I quietly explained that he could try for candy another day but wasn't getting any on this trip. Then I just ignored him as he wailed and thrashed in the cart. I was sure, though, that the entire store was thinking either a: I must be a mean mom since my poor kid had been crying for twenty minutes or b: my kid was a total brat and I was a lousy mother for not getting him to straighten up. My face was red and I stared straight ahead grimly as I waited my turn while the sounds of Eli's tantrum filled the air.

But! As I miserably collected my bags, two different people stopped to tell me I was doing a good job being consistent and not giving him the candy to hush him up. They both went on and on about how lots of parents are too lazy to foll through and that it made them happy to see people sticking to their rules even when it would be easier for everyone to give in. It honestly nearly made me cry. I had felt so sure everyone around me was wishing that my raggedy crew and I would just LEAVE already, and then they were telling me I was doing well! It was like a shot in the arm for my unraveling morale.

So yeah, it didn't make the rest of the day a ton easier, and Eli continues to struggle with the big-brother transition phase. But every time I feel that brain-exploding sensation, I try to remember the nice people in the grocery store who reminded me that for the most part, I am doing okay. My kids will be okay.


Hillary said...

Those people deserve gold stars for being nice. I wish more people were like that.

And, they're right. You're doing a good job. Hang in there.

Elizabeth said...

You are doing a GREAT job. You are! And it's going to pay off in the long run. I think we might be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of horrible toddler behavior with our Eli, and it gives me hope for the future, so I will pass that along to you. Your delightful boy is going to come back to you, I promise.

Scottish Twins said...

I'm so sorry. I can't imagine how hard this all is for you right now. A newborn would make me insane right now.

It must be the age, because Gabe as been very difficult too (as you could see from our last play date). We just need to remember what they keep telling us - these are the tough years for boys. It gets easier when they are older, right? right?? it has to....

Swistle said...

I got ACTUAL TEARS IN MY EYES about those nice people at the store.

And of empathy, for the pooping and the screaming and the holidays and so forth.

Marie Green said...

Man, leave it to motherhood to have us humming "All I want for Christmas is for my kid to shit in the potty" huh? I totally feel you pain. And high five to whoever it was that encouraged you during such a yucky mama-time.

It has to get easier from here on out, right? Like, this is the hardest, and it can only go up from here, yes? This is what I tell myself, and what my holiday wish for you is this year.

d e v a n said...

Oh gosh. I'm feeling for you. I'm SO glad that those people stopped you and gave you a little bolster of encouragement.

hang in there. We had potty problems x2 when L was born and I wanted to cover my whole house in plastic. Of course, it passed eventually but it really sucks when you're in it.

I was giggling at the "Mama had a baby and her head popped off." How true...

Jen @ Rolling Through Looneyville said...

Some people are awesome. I want to look for opportunities to BE that person.

(OK, and I mistyped BE as BED... wow, there's a meaning changer).

You are doing a good job :)

My second weirdly started her rebellion and crazy obstinate behavior recently... and her little brother is 17 months. But I KNOW that it's because of him because she only ever really gets bad when he gets more attention. (Because he's a BABY who need his hiney wiped and such).

Anyway, my first grew out of it after awhile and I suspect I'll be in for it again with this next baby, but I think they'll all grow up to be functional humans and not resent me too badly. I think.

P.S. totally have done the swat in complete exasperation thing. You're SO not along.

Sage said...

Sarah - thank you for this post. Whenever I see a mom having a really difficult time in public with a kid and she is remaining patience and loving - I always try to say something to her - like you're being a good mom - hang in there. I worried that I was being too intrusive and that I should keep my mouth shut.. But now I will remember that it just might be the kind word they need in a moment of stress.

Tracy said...

We, too, had potty issues when Isaac was born. Crazy potty issues. it is not fun. Austin had a horrible transition to being a big brother, but he's a great one, now. :) he loves playing with Isaac, and is super good with him. Just to give you hope. :)

As for the grocery store trip, I definitely think those people should get a medal, too! how thoughtful of them to tell you how wonderful you are/were doing!

Mommy Daisy said...

3 was a hard age for us. Really, really hard! I can't imagine also having a 5 year old and newborn at the same time. Sometimes you just do what you think is best and stick with it. Other times it's fine to just cry in the other room.

Unfortunately recently we had some setbacks too. And I found out how much it's not fun with a disgruntled 4 year old who won't listen and a baby in the house too (especially when that baby was sick...oh, and not mine, which I think would be harder than my own). Whew, we're through it for now. But there are always new challenges just around the corner.

Mimi said...

I'm about ready to strangle my three-year-old lately too. So many potty accidents, tamtrums, etc. And I'm not dealing with a newborn anymore on top of it. I totally feel for you.