August 16, 2012

Being a Parent on a (Bad) Day

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.


  1. Saint Tori. I love you. See you in a minute :)

  2. Yep yep yep...I know that feeling well. Maybe I should say, all of those feelings, since they can't really be rolled into one. My theory is that the reason the "terribles" happen at 2 and 3 is so they won't really remember our meltdowns when they're older. The only feeling I can't really identify with is the guilt over wanting alone time. Believe me, I would be jumping on that without a second thought. You deserve it and I believe taking time for ourselves makes us all better mothers.

  3. Tori- I so appreciate your authenticity. We all feel what you feel at times. Well, at least I do. I would encourage you to get away. I am a VERY strong believer in that...Jesus often withdrew to a solitary place (Mark 1:35) If He needed it, so do we!! I go to a place called the Well of Mercy ( every few months for 24-24 hours for a solitude retreat and have been doing that for ten years. It makes ALL the difference. Everyone's rhythm is different and what you may need is different from me possibly, but I do know that I come back a better wife, mom, and friend. It has gotten so my husband encourages me to go when he thinks I need it...(in other words, I am being a you know what!!)
    So, press on and try to figure out a way to get will be healthier because of it.(I will step off my soapbox now!)

    1. I think Travis is in the same place of saying...Go away...Please! Glad you have the type of family that allows you to take your Mom hat off every once and a while. And thanks for the recommend. I'm going to look into it and other places like that.

  4. This sounds so much like me & my husband at times these days, when we've had a bad day or we have an ongoing bad issue. Autism or any neuro condition + Terrible Twos is just plain awful on a bad day.
    We try so, so, so hard to be calm when our son screams, writhes, headbutts, pulls hair, throws everything in sight & runs away over things like diaper changes or toothbrushing or b/c his toys didn't fit together right. But too often, I find myself screaming, shaking, slamming my fists into the sofa cushions or sobbing & profusely apologizing. When my husband is frustrated, he gets this angry, hate everything face & clenched teeth & starts to forget all progress & says how everything is awful & nothing ever works.
    We get a little time off b/c we work away from home (I work away only in the afternoons/early evening) & sometimes someone will babysit on a weekend afternoon, but as soon as we're all back together again, if it's a bad day, it's like there was no break at all. I've walked into the door & been met by screaming & just wanted to walk back out again & try later.
    Not that I'm glad your day sucked & that some days just suck - but at least others have that feeling of not being themselves & trying so hard to keep it together & feeling guilty for not being perfect.
    I hear it gets easier when they get older - I don't want my baby to be all grown up - but I do wish for easier.

    1. I think we all have days for wishing away these particular ages and stages. I don't think it means we love them any just shows what hard work is involved in raising kids in responsible, healthy homes. And showing frustration and having moments of crazy is completely normal. You are NOT alone, friend!

  5. Sounds rough to say the least. Sorry you had such a bad day. I have a relentless daughter. I understand! I found you on Love that Max. I invite you to visit me. I'm # 34 on the special needs linkup. Hope today was and everyday from now on is better !