I'm having one of those days.
The kind that has included 5 time outs, 2 head butts (him, not me), 4 different occasions of sibling shoving (Luke to Sam, of course), one lunch of pureed pears dumped down the drain completely uneaten minus two bites that I fear ended up in his lungs instead of his belly, two outfit changes per person in the household, and one meltdown in the middle of the kitchen floor (mine, not theirs).
And it's only 3 o'clock!
We've had a string of rough days this past week with Luke. His hyperness levels seem to be through the roof. Even when I purposefully keep him away from all screens (confiscating the iPad, password locking the computer, putting tv remotes out of each) and try my best to wear him out, he still erupts in playfulness that crosses the line of being too rough. He's given me a ton of bruises trying to climb me, deliberately thrown things at his brother, pitched fits over almost every meal, and torn apart every room in the house during a meltdown. If this is a preview of what year 3 is going to be like, I am honestly scared.
Sam is all sweetness and light unless you are a little slow in making a bottle (which is SUCH a pain to do now with all the thickeners) or his brother has gotten a little too close or he needs help pooping or one of his 3 new teeth are bothering him. He's continuing to occasionally aspirate, even the thickened formula and purees. Meal times with him stress me out so bad, that even now, I'm tearing up out of frustration just thinking through our eating failures today.
When I came on duty this morning, Travis relayed the bad news that Luke had slept in til 8. Normally, sleeping in is a good thing, but these days, it signals that he won't be taking an afternoon nap. I know some 3 yr olds don't take naps anymore, but Luke just hasn't given it up yet. He normally plays so hard that he can always be counted take at least a 2 hour nap every afternoon. I know he's in the process of giving it up, but I've made the conscious decision to trade out a later bed time over giving up nap time. By the time 2 o'clock rolls around, Luke and I need a break from one another. And if that means he's still up at 8:45 or later, then so be it. It's totally worth it.
I tried to wear him out today with Play-doh and wrestling and indoor bicycle races, and while he willingly went into his room for nap time, he's popped out every 15 minutes since then. I'm not even afraid to tell you that he is currently in bed with the iPad, probably watching some ridiculous cartoon he found on Netflix. Judge away, Internet. I just don't care. When the decision comes down to giving him the iPad or yelling at him in out-of-control frustration, I figure the iPad is the better parenting choice.
I knew today had the potential to be rough, so I tried to prepare myself for it. I made sure I was properly caffeinated before I started dolling out time-outs. I was proactive in coming up with activities for Luke. I enjoyed Sam's awesomeness and smiles when Luke was occupied. I cleaned the house, knowing that a cleaner house automatically makes my blood pressure drop. I washed my sheets because I think nothing helps you get through a hard day better than knowing you get to sleep on clean sheets at the end of it. I got started on a packing list for our annual vacation with Travis' friends from seminary and their families. I gave Sam a bath so that every snuggle smells like Johnson and Johnson.
I did all that, and still, I ended up sitting on the kitchen floor crying after lunch because I just felt so overwhelmed.
I don't think this is an "overwhelmed because I have a special needs kid" kind of overwhelmed. I think this is just a garden variety "I have two kids under the age of 3" kind of overwhelmed. I don't know. Having a 1 yr old with DS and an almost 3 yr old who seems possessed some days is my normal. Maybe other mothers don't have kitchen floor meltdowns over a disastrous lunch time. Maybe every mother does. Either way, I don't think I'm alone in these feelings of: my kids are out of control...I don't recognize myself in the behavior I am exhibiting...I just want to leave it all behind.
My kids and their individual and combined issues have the ability to push my buttons like nothing or no one else in my life can. The woman yelling and shaking her fists in frustration is not me. The one crying on the kitchen floor isn't me either. It's not a me that I've ever seen before, at least. It's scary and embarrassing and sad that she's in there, just waiting to pop out and show herself to my kids. To the little people I helped create and whom I love like I didn't even know was possible. I hate that they've even seen her, let alone be well acquainted with her, like I fear they've gotten these past weeks. It's not who I want to be with my kids.
Travis and I recently started talking about me taking a few days to get away by myself. After this summer, it's something I think I desperately need. I've always thrived when I am getting a decent amount of alone time and it's just not something that is easily scheduled into my life right now. I struggle with irrational guilt about a variety of things, and alone time is often (in my head, and only in my head) judged as being selfish and something I should feel guilty about wanting. It gets equated to: if I want to spend time by myself, it means I don't want to spend time with my kids or my husband or my coworkers or my friends. I know that that isn't a logical statement, but we all know that logical statements and emotional statements don't often match up. That is the statement my emotions say is true.
I worry that by going away, I'm being unfair to Travis, who is working 50+ hours a week and then coming home to be greeted by me shoving the kids at him. I worry that I'll be stressed about the kids the whole time away, so why bother leaving. I worry that 2 days won't be enough and that I'll have used up my "allotment of time away" (no such thing exists, just FYI) and won't have any other recourse if I reach this point again. I worry that I'll go away and come back feeling better, and all the stress will just be waiting at the door for me, like a heavy sweater I have to slip on the minute I walk inside.
Seeing the endless loop of garbage that is floating around in my head in black and white on this screen makes me acknowledge just how awful we can be to ourselves as mothers. This is that part about becoming a parent that I don't think any of those What to Expect books cover. No one told me to expect to beat myself up unmercilessly when my kids have a bad day.
See what I mean? It took me the entire 45 minutes of sitting here in front of this screen to get to the truth that my KIDS are having a bad day. Not me. I'm practically earning sainthood today in my efforts to not run screaming from this house. I need to learn to forgive that part of me that flips out over defiant behavior and unsuccessful feedings. Not to get all split personality analogy on you, but it would be nice if all the me's in my head were at least on the same team.
So, here's to Team Tori and a weekend away on the horizon.