Yesterday everything went wrong. Ellie was upset all day, making Benji upset. She almost (accidentally) knocked him out about three times. She pushed me, she hit me, she threw things at Ben. She chucked applesauce all over the living room floor, then screamed and slammed her door when I told her to change. I said Time-Out. She said no. I said calm down, she screamed….no.
Cue tears and Super Whine. (That’s whining while crying and screaming…) It’s not my favorite thing.
Today she is back to her sweet self. Telling me she loved me while I put her soccer socks on. Where yesterday I got random things chucked at my head, today she was randomly hugging me and snuggling in. No tears all day. No screaming. No chucking. No hurling her toys in a blind toddler rage.
Yesterday by 5:30pm I was frazzled, confused (how do I handle this so I don’t scar her for life but also don’t allow this unacceptable behavior?) and totally at my wits end. (I’m obviously screwing this up big time).
Today I’m serene and competent. She kicked butt at soccer, made friends, ate lunch and every single time I’ve said ‘no’ today she’s said…”Ok mommy.”
How can I have a crazed toddler-psychopath one day, and the very next day have this super-adorable, giving, loving, thoughtful, sweet little girl?
I will tell you. Two words.
Yes. I do not believe it was coincidence that yesterday Bill and I had a date night planned, and someone (someone she knows very well, a friend in fact) was coming to watch them while we went out to eat.
Could it be that the whole day’s worth of tantrums, uber-upsets, simmering rage and physical mayhem was all because we were going out for a couple of hours?
Yes. There is no other explanation.
Our last date night was when I was pregnant with Benji. Benji will be one next week.
Now that I think about it, we got back just as she was going to sleep and she was so excited to see us. Her relief was palatable. She kept saying, “You came back! That wasn’t so long!”
Smiling from ear to ear, lots of fierce hugs where she doesn’t let go for a minute or two. Cheek to my ear and a big sighs.
Well that’s it folks, I don’t have a solution to this I’m just…expressing an issue I’ve got. If anyone has any magical this-worked-for-me ideas I am all ears.
For now it is clear we need to go out more often, so she gets used to it.
I’m still debating going back to work full-time, or trying to get into some part-time work.
Intellectually I know this is just a faze and there is no need to let this incident color my decision of when to go back to work. I know no matter what, after adjusting, she will be fine. Maybe even more resilient once she knows mom and dad always come back.
When I think of their little faces though, every time I hand them off to a caregiver, the pout (or outright tears) the outstretched arms…my resolve cracks and crumbles.
I’m torn between feeling like this baby/toddler time is fleeting, and will I ever really regret my time at home? I don’t think so. I’m putting them ahead of my own…antsiness? Is that a word? To get out of the house already and dress like a human again and interact with other adult life forms. To feel valued? Appreciated? Needed? Like I belong to society again. To wake up in the morning and know people are counting on me to brush my teeth, get dressed, and show up. To have more than bedtime, exhausted and spent, to have time to myself.
I keep making this decision every day. Every day I wake up and if it's a bad day, I’m resolved to go back to work. If it’s a good day, I feel like I can hang on a little longer.
I don’t have a solution to this parent-stay-at-home ennui either. Except, today was a good day. Today I loved being the main caregiver. It was fulfilling, gratifying, lovely. Lots of love from my little monsters. Quiet, peace, and harmony. Birds sang, rainbows bounced down and sunlight shone on our radiant faces.
Tomorrow I’ll probably get pooped on, screamed at, kicked, pushed, used for toy-target practice, break my toe on that stupid push-toy again, and in general feel like screaming at bunnies and plucking the eyelashes off baby gerbils.
But today was good.
“Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.” Ida Scott Taylor McKinney