Archive for the 'Stress' Category

Where I’ve been

Well, where on earth have I been?  One post a week?  That’s hardly worth it.

I’ll tell you where I’ve been.  In MISERY. (Please note that I tend to lean towards the dramatic.  I can not be held responsible for any slight exaggeration that may occur during this post.)

This whole pregnant-while-parenting-an-active-and-tantrum-prone-toddler business is seriously kicking my butt.  It’s been dragging me down physically, emotionally, and psychologically.  Dark circles are eclipsing my once young, sparkly eyes (ahem…).  I am developing a slouch that can only be described as a Stress Hump, in the most G-rated way possible.  I float between utter joy, infuriation, and complete dispare; the mood changing so quickly I am often wondering “what is wrong with me?” or “where did that come from?”

When I look at my situation objectively, I really do have it fairly easy, given the circumstances.  Anonymous Husband does more around the house than most men (seriously, I’m not just looking for bonus points here – he does the vast majority of the cleaning and more than half of the cooking).  My mom looks after Eirinn, instead of some stranger, which is an enormous blessing.  I have a good job, 10 minutes from home, which pays well and is pretty stress-free (most of the time – this morning was questionable).  I have a network of moms I meet with weekly to de-stress, vent, and gossip.  I have a best friend who I can email daily.

And, actually, Eirinn has been extremely well behaved this past week (as I knock on wood, cross all my digits and limbs, and pray to sweet Baby Jesus).  She has been happy for the most part, has been sleeping well, and has decided that food is not, in fact, the devil, rather is quite delicious and she’ll have more please.  And more.  And when she’s done seconds thirdsies she’ll have dessert.  And then second dessert.  And then maybe a snack.  What are we having for supper?

But.  BUT.  Even a well behaved toddler is still a toddler.  Which means High Energy, itty bitty attention span.  There’s still a lot of running and jumping and catastrophe-aversion and game-invention and TALKING  going on.  I just don’t have that kind of energy.  I have just enough to pass, probably with a C or a C+, but I feel guilty and like a failure if I don’t average a B+ in Parenting 101.  And that, compounded with the hormones and the discomfort, usually brings me to some sort of meltdown.

Evenings are spent just getting through it.  I try my best to keep up, to be cheerful, to be a normal mother and wife.  But I know it’s not working as well as I’d like.  I’m probably not fooling either of them.  I’m doing the best I can playing and hanging out with Eirinn for the few hours before bedtime.  I’m doing the best I can to be patient and strong and The Meeter of All Needs.  I’m doing the best I can, but the best I can right now, to me,  is sub-par.

What I would like to be doing in the evenings (and, let’s face it, all day as well) is sleeping.  I’d like to come home from work, change into pyjamas (preferably flannel), crawl into bed and sleep until I feel like waking up.  Which might not be when the alarm goes off.  Heck, it might not even be the morning.

But I can’t, which is ok.  And I know this feeling of complete and utter exhaustion of my body and my mind isn’t permanent.  It will probably last for quite a while (newborn + toddler does not make for a stress-free environment), but it will get better.  Maybe I need a few rejuvenation days (or “sick days”, as my work insists on calling them) to get back on track.  Maybe. 

I’ll get there eventually, but I’m not there now.

Like a carousel, except not as fun

Ups and Downs of the weekend (you are warned – there are more downs than ups)

Up: Getting our family photos done on Saturday morning.  We get ours done at the Real Canadian Superstore.  We have found that, for what you get, they are much cheaper and of better quality than other big box portrait studios.  We’ve been happy with them so far and this was our third time going. 

Eirinn did very well, considering she is an almost-two year old and it was right before lunch.  She smiled for many shots so we had a few to choose from.  She also didn’t smile for many shots, but we could only pick three poses so she gets a pardon this time.

She wore her most beautifully adorable dress ever.  Ok, so it’s her only dress.  OK, so I actually had to buy it for her the week before so that she would actually have a dress.  Sheesh.  She’s a rough and tumble tomboy and her wardrobe reflects as much.  But this dress, a brightly flowered jumper and a pink shirt, was perfect for the pictures and she’ll wear it again for her second birthday party (not her birthday marking her second year; her SECOND birthday as in she’s having two this year…spoiled?  yes.)  And I also had to buy her shoes because she has grown out of all her shoes in this, the season of only boots.  And she got a fresh new hairdo, which was thankfully free.

So, overall, she looked cute as a bug, smiled as many times as required, and we made it out of the studio alive.

Down: Out of the studio, into the lobby.  Immediately following the portrait session, Eirinn jumped head first into the Single Worst Temper Tantrum EVAH!!!  This event deserves its own title and exclamation marks because it truly was the worst tantrum I have ever seen any human being throw.  She out-did any she had ever thrown herself by entire categories; her worst previous now being labeled Minor Blip on the Attitude Radar.  Seriously, you would have thought we were literally torturing the life out of her right there in the middle of the Superstore, instead of just, say, trying to reason with her that dumping a container of fishy crackers on the floor probably isn’t the most polite thing to do after they so kindly took our pictures at a very reasonable price.

We put up with the blood-curdling screams, kicking, and thrashing for less than a minute before we decided Anonymous Husband would take her to the car while I make the final decisions and pay the nice (patient) lady.   And I got the easy end of the bargain.  Apparently AH was lucky he didn’t get arrested or violently accosted on the way to the car because Eirinn (our little darling) kept up the screaming, yelling for “Mommy” now, refused to let him carry her in any civilized manner, forcing him to carry her like a football.  This scene looked like nothing but a man kidnapping a distressed toddler.  And, for a reward for not leaving her standing in the parking lot alone while he drove away as fast as my car would accelerate, she dumped the fishy crackers all over the car (on purpose) instead.

When we got home, she had lunch and went straight to bed as a punishment.  No rocking, no songs, no lovely quiet time routine that we normally have for nap time.  Straight to bed.  And she didn’t complain, so we know she knew she was bad.

Up: Um…

Down: She has a new favourite.  She forced us to watch Alice in Wonderland, the All-Star, made-for-tv, 1985 version (which is my All Time Favourite Movie, right up there with Goodfellas and The Fugitive), four times this weekend.  Did I mention that this movie is OVER THREE HOURS LONG?  No?  Well, it is.  Which, I suppose, is probably a good thing because if it was the usual hour and a half, we probably would have had to watch it eight times, increasing the likelihood of us tearing our own eardrums out and melting our eyeballs with a barbeque lighter by exactly double.

She has absolutely lost all interest in any other tv, including her long time love, Diego, and his cousin, Dora.  They are officially ex’s now.  The only image on the television that she will tolerate is that of Alice and/or the White Rabbit.

So far I haven’t had to officially remove the movie from my favourites list, but if this keeps up for too long, I might.  That will be a sad day.

Up:  Hmm…

Down:  We had dinner at my parents’ house last night, which was great, but the leaving part initiated another tantrum.  Not as overly dramatic and violent this time, but it lasted from their house, the whole ride home, as we were getting her ready for bed, during her (undeserved) quiet, rocking time, and for a while in her crib.

Then she crashed…

Up:  …for the whole night.  She has rarely slept all the way through the night, especially the past few months, but she did it last night.  From 8pm to 7:15am, she didn’t even stir.  She even woke up still tucked in and her soother still in her mouth.

And Thank God, because after that weekend, I needed a full night sleep.

No amount of training

It started out all frayed nerves and tested patience.  It turned into fighting regrets, wavering self-trust, and lessons learned.

***

I’ve always been fairly confident in my parenting abilities.  I have a mother who, while raising us in a home that doubled as a daycare, provided us with more education on parenting than average.  We saw, come and go, dozens of children over the years, all of differing behavioral dispositions, receptiveness to discipline, even levels of intelligence.  And my mom was and is a fabulous parent and daycare provider.  She has always treated her charges as she would her own kids – no better, no worse, no more or less attention, and the rules that applied to us, applied to them and vice versa.  And the kids were (and are) always there.  They arrived before we were awake in the morning, and didn’t leave until dinner time.

Like I said, this meant I was involuntarily enrolled in a 26 year course in parenting before I had my own.  At the time I was living at home, when I was still a kid myself, this was a burden at times.  Just at times, not always.  We benefited from always having someone to play with, nevermind the fact that our mom was always home; a privilege, no doubt.  We constantly had fresh baked cookies or muffins, a hot lunch at home everyday, and a parent always present for anything we needed.  But this also meant we had to share her for the majority of the day with other people’s kids.  We had to share our toys with other people’s kids.  We had to share our home with other people’s kids.  By the time I was in my teenage years, I was ‘over it’.  A little bit of quiet would have been nice.

All of this is just to say, in theory and on paper, I know about this parenting deal.  I’ve been witness to pretty much any challange a child can throw at you and I’ve seen an expert deal with it appropriately.  But, as we as parents all know, in theory and on paper is dramatically different, like worlds apart, from having to put the knowledge into practice.  With a real, live child.

***

Eirinn was tough this morning.  Not the worst she’s ever been, but she had her moments.  She begged me for oatmeal (as a second breakfast) and after I made it she insisted she “No Like It.”  She ran up the stairs when I asked her to sit on them to get ready.  Nothing horrible, just naughty.

And then she hit me.  Smacked me square in the nose with her finger, hard.  It certainly didn’t hurt, but she meant it to. 

So I slapped her hand.

This is where I have been fighting with myself.  One moment I regret it deeply.  I have always said “how can you teach a child that it’s wrong to hit by hitting them in return?”  And really, how can you?  It’s all fine to say do as I say, don’t do as I do, but a two year old won’t ever understand that.  All she knows is that she did something Mommy didn’t like, so Mommy slapped her.  So, if she were to learn from this lesson, if someone does something she doesn’t like, she should smack them.  Not exactly what I was hoping she’d learn.

Yet in the next moment, I’m ok with what I did.  She has to know why we don’t hit and that’s because it hurts*.  And we don’t want to hurt people.  After the hand slap, we had a long, heart-felt discussion, which she understood so well it brought tears to my eyes, about how we shouldn’t hit people, that we should be friends and we don’t want to hurt our friends.  We discussed how if she doesn’t hit anyone, no one will hit her.  We discussed how much Mommy loves her and how it hurts Mommy’s feelings when she is mean to Mommy.  And in the end, with no provocation, Eirinn said “Poor Mommy,” apologized, and gave me a huge hug and a big kiss.  It was all I could do to not stay home all day and hug my precious little baby. 

It’s so hard to remember, as an adult who has mastered all of these basic theories, that starting out, we have no idea.  How is she to know, without being taught, that hitting is wrong, or that we shouldn’t throw toys at the dog, or that food belongs in the bowl or in our mouth?  So we have to be patient.  She has so many lessons to learn, all at the same time, that I can see how it would take several mistakes before she fully grasps all of these new concepts.  But it’s so hard to remember.  After all, I’m new to this parenting thing and parents have just as many lessons to learn.  The difference is, as a parent, we have to learn these while acting like we already knew them.  We have to be instant experts.  Or incredible actors.

Looking back now, I don’t know if I would do anything different.  I know in an ideal world where children only needed to be told once and their parents kept their cool under any circumstance, I may not have raised my voice and just given her a time out and all would have been peachy.  But my child isn’t like that and neither am I, so I slapped her hand to get my point across, we had our discussion about why I did what I did (because she did what she did), we apologized to each other, and if you ask her now, she knows not to hit.  So under the circumstances, I don’t think I could have done anything differently and still come out with the same result.

But I’m still beating myself up inside, and why is this?  Because there’s always self-doubt in parenting.  We can’t escape it.  No matter how much training we had before our kids came.

***

* I most certainly did not hit her hard enough for it to hurt.  Absolutely not.  She was shocked, for sure, but not in pain.  I would never, ever purposely hurt my child.  Ever. 

Don’t believe the hype

So that Totally Awesome post about the weekend?  Riiiight.  Our weekend was a lot of this:

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And a little bit of this:

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While watching this:

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Yes, the Grinch Who Stole Christmas was played on Sunday.  I’ve found it’s hard to explain to a not quite 2 year old that watching a Christmas movie in February may not be the most appropriate way to spend an afternoon.  But she’s stubborn and she wanted to watch it.  And when you’re pregnant and sick and lazy (mostly lazy), you don’t argue too hard.  You just put in the DVD, flop on the couch surrounded by balled-up used Kleenex and your own stink, and shut up about the durn movie.

Other highlights of the weekend:

a) I made twice-baked potatoes and cobbler, thanks to the inspiration and my fascination with The Pioneer Woman and her Cooks!blog.  Love her.  Like in-love with her.  But totally hetero girl love.  Like if she didn’t have all that other stuff of being a wife and a mother and a world famous blogista, I would totally ask her to come live with us and cook all our meals.  But only if she kept a hilarious, sarcastic running commentary.  With drool-inducing pictures.

Anyway, the fact that I cooked is amazing in and of itself because I am not a cooker (is that right?).  I mean cook.  Just cook.  I bake.  I do not cook.  Not that I can’t cook.  I just choose to channel my talents elsewhere.  Like eating.  But the potatoes and the cobbler turned out incredible.  And I’m not just patting my own back, I had plenty of other people patting it for me.  The potatoes were, and I quote, “better than the Keg’s” and the cobbler is now my “new signature dessert”.  Sure does make one want to do this cooking thing more often.  “One”.  Not me.  But maybe I’ll do it once in a while, to make everyone else happy.

b)  Mommy and Daddy vs. Eirinn.  Sunday night.  We had a half an hour stand-off over whether or not she should have to clean up the blocks she dumped, then kicked, all over the living room floor.  We said she probably should.  She said most certainly not.  We said oh yes, you are.  She said AHHHHHH!!!!  NOOOOO!!!!  We said y’are so, or these blocks are going straight into the garbage.  She dragged her feet.  Well, kind of stomped her feet. 

Let’s just say Team Mommy and Daddy finally won in a long, hard-fought, bloody battle ’til the death.  Or at least until all the blocks were back in their bag. 

The funny thing is she normally is pretty good at cleaning up.  She knows she has to put one thing away before playing with another and she does so happily, singing her clean up song.  I guess we just caught her at a bad time.

So, anyway, sorry about all the hype about this post.  I was being facetious.  I just learned how to spell that word today, so I had to give myself a reason to use it.  You were the victim.

*Cough, Sniff*

I’m sick.  Boo hoo.

Eirinn has been grumpy and her nose has been leaking like a faucet for the past couple of days.  Teething right?  Did you know that teething has become a contagious ailment?  Apparently, what we thought might be teething turned out to be a nasty cold.  And Eirinn’s generous.  Oh, don’t touch her toys, but if you’re in the market for some disgusting sick germs, she’s got ’em and she’ll share ’em. 

So here I am, at home, miserable, and pregnant (read: unable to drug away my misery).  I’ll save you a rundown of my symptoms, but just believe me – I’m sick.  Boo hoo.

At this rate she’ll be married at 12

Eirinn hit her terrible twos at about 15 months.  At that point she was moody and emotional and demanding and all together hard to deal with 75% of the time.  The other 25% of the time she was sweet and charming and cute; just enough so we didn’t sell her. 

This continued at a regular pace until a week or two ago.  Then, as normal toddler progression would have it, she jumped head first into that wonderfully un-terrible-twos stage known as the Three Year Old Questions and…More Questions Period.  Everything that comes out of her mouth is a question, but she hasn’t learned (or she chooses to forgo this half of the process) the ‘listening to the answer’ portion.  Instead she just asks either the same question again, or throws you for a loop and asks a completely unrelated question.

It goes something like this:

“Mommy, what doin’?”

“I’m ma…”

“What doin’?”

“Ma…”

“What doin’?”

I’M MAKING YOU A…

“Where Bossy?”

This is the part where my eyes roll back into their sockets, my brain begins a slow-leak out of my ears, and I collapse into a pile of rotting (and very confused) goo on the floor.  I mean, I would totally take a twenty minute long question and answer  question period over a twenty minute long temper tantrum (which has happened before) any day.  Hands down.  HOWEVER, they didn’t teach how to deal with this in Toddler Prep 101 and I have never really been known for my patience.  I’m not too bad, but when trying to field 15 questions in 15 seconds, I think anyone would explode just a teensy, tiny bit.

Hiatus is over, kids

I’ve been a horrible mommy-blogger.  It’s been almost a week since I last posted.  Several reasons for this, not the least of which is that I didn’t remember to.  Whoopsies.  When you go 27 point 5 years without a blog, it’s easy to forget that you’ve got one.  By the way, did you know that WordPress’s spell check doesn’t recognize “blog” or “blogger” as real words?  They suggest I use “bog”, “blag”, or “biog” instead.  Ironic, no?  Also not a word?  WordPress and Whoopsies.  Who knew?

Where was I?  Oh, yes.  My short term memory loss relating to my blogblag.  There are literally drillions of blags floating throughout the world wide interweb, so for me to complain about everything that goes into maintaining a blag would be laughable.  If drillions can do it, there’s no excuse as to why I can’t.  I’m reasonably intelligent, have a fairly creative mind, a daughter that says and does blag-worthy things everyday, and I have a free forum through which to convey such things. 

But indulge me for just a moment.  I’ll be brief.  Not only does this blag put pressure on Eirinn to perform circus-like feats of hilarity on a regular basis, I also have to remember to document such events, take pictures, Photoshop these pictures so no one laughs at my ridiculously amateur photography skills, compose a post with humour, drama, mystery, and an introduction, character development, plot, climax, and an elaborately satisfying conclusion, press publish, proofread my published work (I’m the only one who proofreads after publishing?  hmmm…), edit for errors, grammatical and otherwise, re-publish, and pass out from exhaustion.  Lately I’ve been skipping all steps but the last one.

I’m going to get better.  I promise.  I started this blag with the intention of keeping friends and family abreast of Eirinn’s daily follies.  I continued this blag with enthusiasm when more than just friends and family started reading because I am all about the attention.  Love it.  I am totally flattered when I see that I get 50-130 visits in a day.  I don’t even know 50-130 people!  So that is uber-rad.  Starting today, I’m going to post more regularly.  Like I did, say, a week ago.  With pictures.  I’ve got a post in mind and I’ve mentally documented it and have began the post composition process.  Mentally. 

So please stay tuned.

***

In the meantime, for your reading pleasure, I present to you a conversation between Mommy, who will be played by myself, and The Evil Schizophrenic Spawn of Some Dastardly Villian, who will be played by Tornado Eirinn. 

Monday, 7:55 am

Mommy is innocently packing herself a banana to take to work for a snack.  Schizo Spawn sees the banana and, despite her already consuming two separate breakfasts in the span of a half an hour, demands in a tone only heard by dogs that she also have a banana.  NOW.

Mommy tells Schizo that she can pack a banana to take to daycare as a snack, but that they have to get ready to go because they’re running late.

Bad.  Move.

Full blown tantrum, body-trashing, arms punch the air, tears, screams, and demands ensue.  Because they’re running so late, Mommy tries to dodge fists and leg-kicks while dressing Schizo in a hat, mitts, winter coat and boots.  More than once, Mommy gets head-butted square in the jaw. 

“Mommy!!!!  I cwying!!!”

“I know you’re crying.  Do you know why you’re crying?”

Pause.

Pause.

You could hear the little hamster running on his little wheel inside her head.

Squeak.  Squeak.  Pause.  Squeeeeek.

“I stop cwying.  I happy now.”

Oh…kay.