I sit here blogging plagued by a dull, achy feeling that’s suddenly taken up residence in the pit of my stomach. No, it’s not because of the handful of M&Ms that I just wolfed down (yes, I do turn to chocolate in times of stress — and also in times of happiness, sadness, excitement, fear, anger…). It’s because a short while ago, I lost my patience with Clara and said some things in her presence that I should have otherwise kept to myself. I blame losing my cool on the fact that it’s Thursday night, and even as a stay-at-home mom, I, too, will utter “TGIF” at least once tomorrow. In reality, after a long day filled with sweetly (as well as not-so-sweetly) spoken, “No, no, nos,” “I needs,” “I wants,” and “That’s mines,” I hit a wall.
I know why I got upset — it’s because Clara is almost three-years-old and learning how to exert
her independence. She’s testing her boundaries, dipping her toe in the forbidden pool and pushing every one of my buttons — all of which can be very frustrating at times. If I sit in it, she pushes me out-of-the-way. If I’m eating it, she grabs it from my hand. If I’m using/reading/otherwise engaged with something, it’s “hers.” If we refuse to give in and/or correct her behavior, we are met with either tears or a tantrum. Today, for instance, she immediately picked up the bottle of Clorox Green Works cleaner that I had set on the floor beside me while I wiped dried milk off of the wall (because heaven forbid we don’t hurl our cup on the floor after we’ve finished our milk), and proceeded to squirt it directly in her own face. Thankfully, she didn’t get any of the almost 100% naturally-derived cleaner in her eyes or mouth. But, I still dropped the paper towel I was using, raced her over to the sink and scrubbed her face.
Now, believe me, it pains me more than you know to speak of my dear daughter by espousing anything other than flowery and glowing words. But, come on, people, I am only human. And lately my patience has been wearing quite thin. When occasions such as attempting to ingest household cleaner or butt paste (another trick she tried a couple of weeks ago) come up, I try my best to take a few deep breaths before cleaning up and/or calling Poison Control.
Words alone aren’t enough to convey just how much I love Clara — both of my girls for that matter. But, the older they get, the more challenging parenting becomes — I am truly dreading their teenage years. Elyse is now five months old and in just four short months, Clara will be
three. Both of them have brought so much joy to my life, but I’ve learned that this joy does come with a price. My children always come first — and my needs now reside WAY down at the bottom of a long list of more pressing priorities. And besides my daily seven-mile run and indulging in a sweet treat now and again (okay, okay, daily sweet treats), I’ve learned that stealing a few moments of solitude accompanied by some deep breaths (thank you, yoga class) are enough to keep me from completely losing it. A couple of months ago, during a particularly stressful lunch, I even found some refuge on the front porch while both Clara and Elyse serenaded me with their screams from inside of the house. As I stood and admired the neighbor’s landscaping, for a couple of brief moments, I really wished that I didn’t have to go back inside. But, both girls needed attending to, and this type of behavior does come with the territory.
So besides witnessing Elyse’s first true belly laugh and observing her take a toy out of my hand and put it in her mouth, this month has taught me to recognize and properly cope with my daily stressors. Although I wasn’t on my game tonight (who would be after Clara hemmed and hawed for about five minutes before settling on the Hello Kitty jammies and then as I was getting her dressed decided she’d rather wear the ladybug ones?), I can appreciate the fact that I’m trying my best to keep Clara’s boundary jumping from completely getting away from me. In fact, I even managed to find humor in the time she decided to draw all over her thighs, face and hands with a pen while we were out running errands. After I had to drag her into the jeweler’s with what looked like whiskers on her face, I placed her back in her car seat and gently chided her for being so careless. I was met with her twinkling blue eyes, sheepish grin and her sweet voice informing me, “You [she meant to say “I”] look like a lion.”
Serenity now, serenity now…