Please join us in welcoming Kate to Mama Might!
This morning I woke up cranky…angry… disgruntled… just plain p*ssed. The source: my 2 year old. I loathe her. Call it lack of sleep, pregnancy hormones, stress of balancing work and home life, nah! Just plain loathe everything that is two years old. The incessant self-centering, nothing is ever enough or right or wrong, or just fine. The battles – the tantrums – the strong will tug of war over everything little thing. Now, while you gather yourself and pick your jaw up off the ground, let me explain. Perhaps you have never had a two year old; perhaps you have never had MY two year old but nonetheless, let me enlighten you. We are potty training: a necessary evil of life and overall, isn’t going as poorly as I sometimes make it out to seem. That being said, it is still a battle I wish I didn’t have to fight. And when I say “we” I mostly mean “me” – having a 50 hour-work-week- husband and a 17 year old babysitter as your “potty training pitch hitters” is enough to make anyone want to pull her hair out. The “problem” with our two year old isn’t that she’s dreadful, isn’t that she’s “the middle child” isn’t that she doesn’t do everything I ask her to do, it’s that she’s just like me.
Yesterday, while assisting the doctor I work for with a patient, he and I shared the happenings of our time off. He shared luxurious and exciting stories about his trip to England and Ireland; I spent my days potty training. (NB: He and his wife raised 5 children. I know he can relate to the frustrations of potty training and toddlers). I shared my woes, experience, comparison to her sister, tactics, trials etc. And then he says: “it’s because she’s just like her mother.” (*slight pause for mind blowing experience *) YEP! She’s stubborn. She’s driven, self-sufficient, independent, and just like me. (* insert good dose of humility here *). I certainly can’t punch the guy that signs my paycheck in the teeth for enlightening me (although the consideration did cross my mind); I can’t pawn my 2yo off on anyone knowing what they’d be up against; I can’t give up and allow her to pee in her pants through her wedding day…
And then there was bedtime.
With Baby #3 just around the corner, hubby and I have recently started putting the girls to bed at the same time. The girls have been sleeping in the same room for well over a year but with staggered bedtimes at 7:30 and 8:00pm. It worked very well. Sometimes I ask myself why we stopped. Sweet 2yo would curl up in one of our laps in the glider, grab a paci and her lovie, read two books, prayers and was sound asleep 20 minutes later. GLORIOUS! 4yo went to bed with some struggle after teeth, potty, a couple of books, prayers, typical procrastination, back scratching, but by 9pm, Mommy was usually relaxing on the sofa. Yea right – by 9pm, Mommy was folding laundry, cleaning up supper dishes, or packing lunches for the next day. So, the new routine (sans paci mind you) with coinciding bedtimes has been sitting on the floor reading 1 or 2 books together, then in bed for communal prayers, followed by mommy or daddy sitting on the floor to “police staying in bed” for 15-20 minutes. Last night was daddy’s turn. At 9:15pm 2yo was still awake, asking for mommy. I hear hubby call my name from the foot of the stairs to our bedroom. He states “every time I get up to leave the room, (not-so-sweet) 2yo who is sound asleep sits straight up asking for you or for ‘daddy to sit on the floor awhile.” Ok, whatever. He gave it a good shot. I assume the position and take my turn on the floor of the girl’s room. Both nicely in bed and sleeping, 15 minutes later I head to bed myself. Everything is fine. Well, until midnight (everything exciting happens after midnight, right ladies!). Thump, thump, thump resounds from the baby monitor; fat toddler feet carry 2yo to the base of our stairs. I meet her at the bottom and quietly state “its nigh-night time baby. Let’s rock 5 minutes.” So we do. And she’s asleep. And I lay her down. And she’s awake. “Nigh-night baby. Mommy will sit with you a few minutes. Lay down.” So I do. I assume the position on the floor (difficult for a 32 weeks pregnant self to get down let alone up). 10 minutes later, sleeping 2yo, mommy awkwardly pulls herself to a standing position and quietly attempts to leave the room. 2yo sits straight with glaring eyes (like something from the Exorcism) declares “Mommy you sit.” Well, mommy has sat, and Mommy has rocked and Mommy must be up in 5 hours to go to work tomorrow. “No baby. Mommy has sat and rocked. It’s time for nigh-night. Stay in your bed. Mommy’s going to bed too. Nigh-night” and I attempt to leave. She whimpers. I return, reiterate the above, leave but this time make it as far as the living room where she follows me to the hallway. I guide her by the hand back to bed, tell her night, cover her up, tell her to stay in bed, make it to the hallway myself before blood curdling screams initiate. Quick thoughts begin racing through my head– what would Super Nanny do? 4yo will be awake any second. Am I willing to deal with two children at midnight? Let her cry a minute my gut insists. So I do, and yes 4yo is awake, but THANKFULLY stays in bed, simply covers her ears, and goes along for the ride. I return, put 2yo back to bed, tell her nigh-night, kiss her forehead, pry white-knuckled- fingers from my body, and walk away. I sit in living room, waiting. Piercing cries now reach the ears of hubby the floor above; I hear creaks from the spring of our mattress as he rolls over to turn off the baby monitor. She continues; I wait. 2yo gets out of bed but does not cross the threshold of her room now yelling “I potty mommy, I potty.” My immediate thought – SHIT. Of course you have to go. Why wouldn’t you? What do I do now? Not allow her to go just to keep her in bed thus discouraging the whole potty training fiasco and little headway I have made!?! Yet, I let her go and start the whole bedtime ordeal over from the beginning? AHHHHHH! Ok, 2yo. I’ll call your bluff. “Let’s go,” I moan. She sits and sits and sits and sniffles and sniffles and sniffles and nothing. “Go potty baby.” She dribbles a pee most likely knowing ‘mommy will flip her lid if I don’t produce at least one drop of urine.’” Bum wiped, clean diaper on, back to bed. Repeat all above except now insert “I want Daddy” in midst of her wailing, agonizing screams. Of course you want daddy! He will provide a refreshing element to the whole drama. “No honey. Daddy gone nigh-night too. Its nigh-night time. Stay in bed” and I return to my chair in the living room to find hubby sitting on the sofa cock-eyed. He says, “What’s going on? 4yo must be awake. This can’t be fair to her.” OH NO YOU DIDN’T. I close my eyes and breathe focusing myself on the task at hand rather than dismembering my husband limb from limb. I calmly tell him to return to bed. He insists no, also knowing mommy would likely flip her lid if he did return (there really is no right answer here). 12 more times I patiently get up, place her in bed, tell her to stay and walk away, channeling that same energy that prevented me from dismembering my husband to not clubbing my child. At 12:55am, hubby says “I’ll give you 5 more minutes of ‘your way’ before I step in.” I firmly offer him to sleep on the floor of the girl’s room – choice words exempted – boldly insisting that this fit was like any other 2yo tantrums and I was not about to let her win. I have far too much invested at this point. I bark one strong “good night” and return to my seat. Then, as quickly as it began, it stopped. I hold my breath. Is this it? Is it over? Is she asleep or at least settled? Did I win? I exhale. At 1:20am I return to bed in complete and utter fear. I move the video camera baby monitor right next to my head on the night stand next to me, rolling with adrenaline, unable to sleep, staring at the 2yo. Is she really asleep? Yes-but whimpers occasionally with her breaths, my heart silently breaks. At 2am I return to her bedroom. She is asleep, head down at the foot of her bed with covers thrown about. I lift her to her pillow, gentle brush the side of her face and place the sign of the cross on her forehead. She’s beautiful. My eyes well up. I hate myself.
At 6:30am the alarm goes off. Hubby hits it and rolls over. We are both awake but don’t dare discuss the previous evening’s happenings. I am mad, tired, emotional, p*ssed. At 6:45am 2yo clambers out of bed, walks the hall and climbs the stairs to our room as she does every morning. She proceeds to her father’s side of the bed, he picks her up and places her between us. She squirms to me cheek to cheek. I gush. “Good morning baby” I whisper. She smiles at me, looks me in the eye, I see no grudge. “I want ma cock-ca-lat milk (chocolate) and watch ma show now.” I breathe a sigh of relief. She doesn’t hate me.
Kate is a 40 hour-week medical assistant to an orthopedic surgeon, a 20 hour-week youth minister to a rowdy group of middle schoolers and 24/7 mom of 2 girls (ages 2 and 4) with a baby boy on the way. She was born and raised in Nova Scotia on salt cod, mussels, turnip and potatoes but now eats spiral hams, biscuits and white gravy (when forced) compliments of her Southern mother-in-law. She is married to a wonderful, calm husband of 6 years who has graciously stuck around long enough to avoid deportation, mostly out of fear that she’ll “leave the kids and run.” When not wiping bums, wrapping boo boos and passing out stickers (both at work and at home) she enjoys Twix bars, yoga, and Jim Gaffigan’s “Dad is Fat.” She clings to the rosary if for nothing else than sharing with another mom who doesn’t judge her.