Photo: This child… I feel like I have to “re-learn” him about once a year. He’s emerging to be a wonderful kid. For every five cool things I realize he does that I love, he produced maybe two more that I could do without. They don’t tell you that about motherhood. They don’t tell you that you’ll have moments where he doesn’t like you and you… maybe… with a little guilt… don’t like him much, either.

I realize that little boys growing and changing is an inevitable (even wonderful) thing, but I am having a really tough time with the current evolution. No napping is just… I’m going to be frank… it’s fucking up my life just a little bit. I’m having a really hard time with this transition.

Because it means that from 7am until 7pm I am “on” non-stop with the boys. No downtime, no help, no break. And the boys seem to be back to that cycle of every 15-20 minutes, there is need for Mama-powered intervention. From fights to climbing on something to throwing something, to needing something, to poop disasters… Every 15 minutes, my thoughts are disrupted. For 12 straight hours.

It’s maddening.

That two-three hour nap every day, just to know that a break was coming, oh my God, what a gift. And it’s not like I wasted it. Nap time was for blogging or knitting or cleaning or prepping dinner uninterrupted, which matters. For anyone!

So, of course, it makes that 5am-7am early-morning time that much more precious. But here’s the thing, because my days have been so frustrating and exhausting, I’ve been sleeping until 6:30. And then I tell myself that I’ll write after the boys go to bed at 8. 8 to 10. Right?

Last night, I made the beds after washing the sheets, looked at my big comfy bed, crawled into it at 7:45 and didn’t wake up until 6.

Now yes, sleep is good. It does great things for stress. But It’s horrible for morale, right? I got nothing done yesterday re: my short story due next month, my novel (which I told myself would be edited next month) or my little novella challenge that I was supposed to do this month. How the hell am I supposed to achieve anything for myself, claim my own challenges, pursue my own dreams when I can’t even get out of bed right now?

So I’ve been sneaking upstairs to the office when the boys are playing quietly. I get a little bit done and then I get this, Major: “Mommy, where are you?”

“I’m upstairs.”

“Are you on the potty?”

“Baby, no. Can I help you?”

“I don’t want to be alone, Mommy.”

“You aren’t alone. You’re with your brother.”

“Can you come down here, please Mommy?”

When I choose to tell him no, he sits at the bottom of the staircase wailing until I come down.

Not Minor, Major.

Which is hilarious, you know why? My four-year-old doesn’t really like me that much.

Or, at least, he makes a big show of not really showing me much respect. I’m getting a lot of “I’m know,” and “augh,” and “Well, I was going to…” oh, and I especially love this one: “Actually, Mommy.”

Jesus. When that child starts a sentence with “actually,” my blood pressure goes up at least 10 points and doesn’t come down for the rest of the day.

And you know what? And this is going to get my flamed by the sanctimommies out there: I’m not sure that I like my four year-old that much right now either.

He’s moody, he whines a lot, he’s not flexible, he’s disrespectful, he’s not interested in learning, though he’s happy to lecture, and while he comes off as sweet as candy for every one else in the universe (including his father), he is always quick to show me his worst.

love my four year-old, I commit myself to him beyond measure on a daily basis, but I don’t like him right now. I don’t want to hang out with him. I’m not excited to listen to him tell me that, “Actually, Mommy, Ancient Egypt is a place that has all the pyramids and they are tricky and you can’t go up to the top and we can go there and see them.”

“We can go to Cairo someday if you want, baby. The pyramids are in Cairo.”

“Actually, Mommy, they are in Ancient Egypt.”

Actually, baby, Cairo is a city in Egypt. And Cairo is where many of pyramids are.”

Silence.

Yet, I feel like once a day, there is some older individual telling me to “enjoy this time,” it “goes so fast,” “every second is just so precious.” I was on the phone with my uncles a few nights ago and one of them always says this. “Oh my God, there are just so precious. It’s terrible we never get to see them. I hope you’re really enjoying these moments.”

I just about replied, “fuck you,” but I respect my elders too much for that.

But damn if I wasn’t close…

I just…

I’m tired and frustrated…

It’s a petty, stupid thing, I know. A lot of my frustration comes from my own ridiculous and unrealistic expectations: for the boys, for myself, for what this life could/should be for each of us. I wake up in the morning with the things I want to accomplish, for the philosopher kings I’m trying to raise and… I never quite hit everything I’m try to do. That’s my fault.

But there is also some universe stuff to be mad about. Remember, it’s just us here while everyone else we love is south of us: no breaks, no baby sitting, I feel like the boys are rarely in school these days (and when they are, I’m with them), and now, not even that little nap.  Break is coming up and, sooner than we think, summer vacation is coming. Do you know how much it is going to cost to put them in just one week of some sort of morning summer camp?

$300.

It doesn’t look like a lot, but it’s a lot for that little bit of time. What the hell do I do with the rest of the summer? And remember, we’re shelling out just over $10,000 for them to go to school next year. So The Husband and I might have to choose between a vacation for the two of us or one week of morning summer camp.

So, it’s like: I get to choose between my sanity or my sanity? I need both. I actually need more.

There are no easy answers. That’s been the motto all year…

I know that I shouldn’t complain… I’m lucky. I write that all the time. And there is nothing that I can do but change how I structure my day, choose to make better choices with my time, seek to seek to find compassion and patience for my precious son, and have the wisdom of knowing that it will all be different in a few months. We will all change again. They learn and grow, I change and improve.

But Lord… it’s hard to kick the supreme desire for a little easy transition… a little smooth change…

Sorry to get all ranty. I’ll find Quiet Thoughts for Friday…

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5 thoughts on “Growing Pains

  1. Do you choose to be a helper at preschool or is that part of the contract?

    My kids sometimes tell me now that they didn’t always like the playgroup/ nursery/ holiday club that I sent them to when they were little. They look at me as if I wantonly abandoned them to strangers for my own selfish gratification. I mean, I didn’t go out to work like the other mums so why did I not just let them play at home like they wanted?

    How to explain to them that those couple of hours are what kept me sane. Perhaps they are alive today with all limbs intact because I had a couple of hours child free a couple of times a week. I used that time to breath in and breath out without having to deal with their constant demands, holding back every natural instinct in order to stay calm, explain, negotiate and be positive whatever they threw at me or each other (sometimes literally). It was exhausting in a way that outside work never was. Adults can be reasoned with.

    Unlike many of the mums I did not shed a tear when my kids went to school. I went home, sat down with a cup of coffee and relished the silence. The mums who missed their little darlings were often the ones with trusted family members nearby who had outside work and/ or a social life.

    Get as ranty as you need to on here. It helps those who also struggle to know that they are not alone.

    • Yeah, the preschool is a co-op, which means that I’m obligated to do two “jobs” for the school and also come in regularly for parent-helping. Parent-helping in the toddler program happens about once every 3 weeks. Parent-helping in the Preschool program is SUPPOSED to happen less, but I find that they get clustered, which is really annoying. Co-ops are more community oriented, smaller and, supposedly, cheaper. The cheapness hasn’t panned out and the community… *sigh*

      As for the rest of it, one of the most lonely part of motherhood and the part that I hate the most is this spoken and unspoken rule that we aren’t supposed to complain. Not at all. Unless we complain to other moms. I was JUST in a meeting with Major’s preschooler teachers today and they asked about April Break. “Are you doing anything fun?” “No, nothing planned… it’s going to be me and the boys all week.” “Well, you know, WE remember, because WE were young moms with little ones once. Just enjoy this time, you know? It goes so fast!” Augh. It’s well meaning (sometimes) but so dismissive and not helpful. I really REALLY hate that. I hate that no one acknowledges that it’s hard RIGHT NOW. It’s like, yo, if you aren’t going to offer to help, just don’t effing say anything at all. You know?

      Yeah, I can’t wait until they are in school full time. Even just CONSISTENT mornings, at this point, would be better than what I’ve got. It’s supremely disappointing to think, “Oh look, a beautiful window of time!” and then have it snatched away. It just… augh.

  2. Outstanding rant, my friend. I used to tell my nephews all the time that I would love them like the moon and stars, but I wasn’t going to take their shit. There were limits to my patience, my tolerance, and my generosity; so while they were pushing boundaries to establish their own identitites, they learned not to cross mine.

    And that was fair because I was giving up my life for theirs. Gratitude bitches. We’re still working on that one lol.

    It was a compromise for both sides so we all could get what we wanted. And it wasn’t terribly pretty at times. But there you are. Even masterpieces go through an ugly phase before they’re finished.

    The most important thing I impressed upon them was that one day they would be taller, faster, and richer than me; but I will always be smarter. At times they thought they were smarter, and tried to be all big man about it; I just waited. Pretty soon they’d fuck it all up, and come crying back with “Why,” and “How come?” Those moments were so worth it.

    Their mother and I are very much enjoying watching all the things the boys told us we were wrong about come true. Its not in a vindictive way, its more like kicking back for some us-time and enjoying Karma Show 😉

    I won’t fill you full of silly, and tell you your sacrifice is noble; but I will tell you the payback day is delicious.

    High-five on the pyramid smack-down. Haha, classic.

    • Thanks for the support! I am excited for the Karma Show, even if I know that it is going to take FOREVER to get here! Meanwhile, I’m sitting here collecting more gray hairs and my children drive me craytothezee.

      That gratitude thing, though… it’s so tough. Lord knows I admonish MYSELF for being ungrateful from time to time, and I’m effing 30. How do you get your 4 year-old to be grateful for some shit? I try, I try to be like, “did YOU get yourself to school today? Did YOU do your laundry to get these clean clothes ready for your day?” But it always comes back to him and his hurt. His world is still very small. It just sucks to feel like the antagonist all the time, you know? All I’m trying to do is do the right thing… it sucks to get punished.
      Payback day… I hope I get there!

      • I don’t know. I was tossed to the wolves early by all my relatives. Much self-sufficiency and gratitude was impressed upon me quickly. Nephews were spoiled by gma, so when I came along, and wouldn’t wipe their noses, there was, shall we say, growing pains.

        My favorite: “Leah, how do you spell [insert word]?”

        “D-I-C-T-I-O-N-A-R-Y.”

        They never learned lol

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