Wednesday, October 10, 2012

On parenting an (almost) three year old

Some days I feel like the world's worst mother, I wonder if my kids have any hope of turning out normal.  It is SO easy to parent other people's screaming children in the grocery store or in the hospital or out at a restaurant (if they would just tell that child, no.  Perhaps if you didn't yell at him like that....)
But parenting your old child is hard, hard work.  And some days, most days, I feel completely inadequate.

I've been working in the ER lately and some days I work 1:00pm-11:00pm.  Today is such a day.  I know that if I don't keep Matthew home with my in the morning, I will not see him at all, so I do it, despite the fact that it throws of his schedule. But on those days I do, I feel like such a parenting failure.

Our morning went as such:
Go for a quick run. Come back and pump (stationary time, can't really do much with Matthew.)  Meanwhile, Matthew is "playing" with the blender pretending to blend food like he sees me do for Samuel.  "Mommy, will you blend with me?"  I can't right now, Matthew. I'm pumping for Samuel. Then I ask Matthew what he wants for breakfast. Eggs. I start to make eggs. No, waffles.  But I'm making eggs, Matthew. Let's have eggs.  No, waffles. Minor temper tantrum. Since I haven't already started to make the eggs (only gotten them from the fridge), I commence making waffles, going back on my "no."  Meanwhile, "mommy will you plug this in? Mommy will you blend with me? Mommy, will you get me milk? Mommy, can you pick that up?"  I get frustrated. No, Matthew, I'm trying to make you waffles now because I have to feed Samuel his breakfast and we have to go to school soon.  I finish the waffles. Give them to Matthew. Sit down with some of my own.  Mommy, can I have yours? No, matthew, you have your own (which are half gone by now).  These are mommies. They are the same. You need to eat yours.   Breakfast is done. Samuel is screaming. I somehow manage to feed him is fruit.  Mommy, will you blend with me? Not right now, Matthew, I'm feeding Samuel.  Matthew is playing with his plate and knocks Samuel's bowl off the table and onto the floor. It spills.  "Matthew!" (in an exacerbated voice!) I'm so frustrated.  I go to get more food, "are you getting Samuel more food?" "yes," "Why?" "because you spilled it, Matthew."  The kid is 3. It's not his fault, what happened to the days when he was a younger baby and would knock something over or spill something and I'd simply say, "uh-oh! No problem!"

Then, the kitchen is a disaster. I commence cleaning.  Samuel is screaming because he's tired and a little sick with a cold. Matthew is still "blending." I'm telling him "no" every other second because he's trying to do something he's not allowed to do.  I finally finish cleaning and put Samuel in his crib since he's so tired.  He falls asleep.  I take a shower. Matthew stays downstairs, alone, still blending. After my shower, he comes upstairs for a band-aid because he has a cut on his finger.  I give him a band-aid, change his diaper, get his shoes on, put him in the car.  

He plays with the keys in the car, opening and closing the automatic door while I get Samuel ready to get into the car. While putting Samuel in the car, he starts to close the door on my. "Matthew! Stop.  He does not listen.  "Matthew Benjamin, give me those keys right now!"  He complies. But he's only 3. He doesn't understand. I'm the one who gave him the keys in the first place, because if I don't, a large tantrum ensues. I get Samuel in the car, and we go.

I never did blend with him.

And when we get to school I drop him off and he clings to me. How on earth can he love me so much and not want me to leave when my interactions with him that morning consisted of, "no," and "not yet."

I get so frustrated with him all the time for the stupidist things.  For not sitting still like I want, smiling for pictures like I want, for always wanting to play with my phone, for not listening to me when I tell him no (ok, maybe that one is not so stupid), for not laying still when I change his diaper, for still needing to USE a diaper, for splashing water onto the floor in the bathtub.   He's 3.  He doesn't know. It doesn't really matter. And while I don't "yell" at him, I often get quite frustrated and change the tone of my voice more than I want. Or raise it just a little. Oh, to have the (non-existent) temper of my husbad, or my mother.  But...I got my father's temper and I got a child with my, shall we say, zest for life.

I go back on my "no" more often that I should--typically after i've re-evaluated the situation and decided I don't have the energy for a battle. But then why did I say no in the first place?

I have no idea if I'm normal or if I'm just a huge failure. I definitely have no idea how single mom's do it, and I have no idea how stay at home mom's do it. They must have the patience of a saint, because at least going to work revives me in someway so that I'm a little more patient with my children when I return home.

I apologize to Matthew sometimes, which I hope will help him in the long run, but all the time I feel like I don't spend enough quality time with him or have enough patience with him or enforce the limits like I should.  

I need a parenting mentor.

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