I haven’t written in three weeks. Today, I need it. I need the angry, pulsating blur of frustration, fatigue, and exasperation to dissipate and trickle out of my fingertips in the form of words on this page.
If any of you were wondering what it’s like being pregnant with two other kiddos under 5 running around, in a word, it’s exhausting. Some days are really f*cking hard. Today was one of those days. I’m empty. I’m at the end of my rope. I have used up every last reserve of energy. Between making meals, sweeping floors, washing dishes, attempting to knock a few calls off my call list and changing diapers, attempting to toilet train (haven’t gone all in yet; must get serious soon), putting baby girl in car, picking up older brother from daycare… (This reminds me – people have said to me in passing “Don’t run“, “Don’t pick her up“….Seriously? How is that possible? Do you actually expect me to go through my whole pregnancy without running or picking anyone up? Don’t see that happening… I mean I understand the good intention and I appreciate the concern, but it’s simply unrealistic.)
I don’t know what I did wrong today. I don’t know if I ate something weird, if I didn’t drink enough water, if I didn’t sleep enough, if I slept too much, if I didn’t read enough Scripture, if I didn’t pray enough, if my brain is too wired or on overdrive from trying to do too many things at once or simply from too many screens for one day… Some of you are probably thinking, “Ummm hormones? It’s not rocket science…” I’ll admit, you may be right. Except that this has happened before; many, many times when I wasn’t pregnant. I think every parent has these days. I think it comes with the territory.
Around dinner time, I had a full on screaming match with T after he started flipping out because I said he couldn’t have chocolate after he ate his meal. He had already had one this morning (and quite a lot over the last 3 days, so I had to put a stop to it before it became a habit). Totally stooped to his level, totally did all the things the parenting experts say not to do. I “lost my cool”. Supernanny would be so disappointed.
And I was doing so well…
I never told you about the instance when my mother in law told me I shouldn’t scream at my son so much, did I? This was about two months ago I suppose. I went into a mini depression because she was basically validating what I already knew was true, what I already felt impossibly guilty about. After I got over the initial shock, I kicked myself into gear and finished reading that Supernanny book I borrowed a month prior and had only read the first chapter of. She actually has some really helpful, basic, straight forward advice. She’s really big on praise and says it leaves 10 times as much of an impression as disciplining does, which was encouraging because I’ve always made a point to put a lot of emphasis on praise. We had already been using a sticker chart and it had definitely helped (I give him a sticker when he follows directions and acts properly and take one away if he does something really unacceptable. At first, it was 6 stickers to a prize; we recently increased to 8). What I have been meaning to incorporate is Supernanny’s version of Time Out which she calls the “Naughty Step”. Basically, you give two warnings – two chances for the child to correct his/her behavior (have to talk them through it and be very specific about what you are expecting) – and then the third time they repeat/continue the misbehavior, you take them to the “Naughty Step” or chair or corner of the room or wherever you decide for it to be. So, we made our list of House Rules (kept it simple – no hurting others, sit at the table when eating, clean up toys after playing). We didn’t write a No Screaming at the Top of Your Lungs til You’re Red in the Face and Throwing Laundry at Omma rule, but we should have. I gave him the two warnings. I told him he had to sit down and be quiet and stop disrespecting me, and he continued, so I screeched, “THAT’S IT! TIME OUT!” What I did wrong was that I got all heated and I grabbed him by the arm and dragged him to the next room (Supernanny notes the time out spot shouldn’t be a bedroom, but in the heat of the moment, I thought taking him into a different room would get my point across better.) Poor baby. It makes me sad thinking about it. Where was my patience? I don’t know. I just don’t know.
I know this devastated feeling won’t last. This too shall pass. The good news is that tomorrow, I have a chance to start anew and to do better. I’ve come to expect all these highs and lows. This is real life. This is not a movie scripted to make everything fall into place; where everything works itself out and resolves itself neatly by the close of the day.
When things get crazy, when our minds are a mess and we are on our last legs, we just need to stop. Stop everything (even if we have to wait til after the kids go to bed, which most likely as parents, we do). Whenever we finally, finally have the chance, take a minute. A minute to take a few deep breaths, to meditate, to do yoga, to pray, to take a hot shower, to belt out a few songs on our favorite singing app (My singers, look up Smule in the app store! You won’t regret it!), to call a friend, to blog. Strand by strand, we can gather ourselves back together, pick up the pieces of ourselves that were tossed every which way in the tornado that was today. We can adoringly, quietly watch our little angels (I only call them angels when they’re asleep….) and rest assured that there’s no shortage of love in our hearts.
Tomorrow is a new day.