Day 5

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I was cranky yesterday. Inexplicably. I just was. And The Who pushed every one of my buttons. Cranky begets cranky begets cranky, I think. But it started to look up after Johnny took The Who for a walk in the rain and I got to sit in the parked car with KK and whine.

And then today–today turned into that unexpected day of awesome. I could give some of the credit to the weather (sunny and 70) but most of it goes to the universe providing just the kind of day we needed.

We were supposed to meet a friend in Harvard Square, but most unfortunately for her, she had a back spasm and was unable to meet us. As a result, The Who and I, already having arrived by T, ended up having a delightful Mama/Boy date. We had breakfast at Starbucks together, played for over an hour at the Curious George toy store, poked into a few little shops, shared a Bertucci’s pizza outside on the stone wall, and then caught a bus over to my friend’s house. She was delayed at the doc’s, though, so The Who and I hung out and played in the yard, availing ourselves of the sandbox, swing, bubbles, and ride-on toys. We even kicked a few balls into the goal. Finally, our fiends made it back and we played for a half hour or do before heading back on the T.

So, even though it was not the day we had planned, it turned out to be just the day we needed. We reconnected in a very sweet way.

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Day Two.

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So, Day Two’s in the can. It involved a terrible motel breakfast (that still utterly delighted The Who — ah, to be 3 years old not give a hoot about microwaved powdered eggs) and three more hours of driving. Plus a bonus gender-stereotyping lesson for the sunglasses-seller, who tried to dissuade my boy from choosing pink sunglasses (he was not dissuaded, by the way, and I left her with some educational parting words.)

Tonight I got to go be a grown-up and see a show while The Who carried out his end-of-the-day shenanigans with his grandparents. He is now completely sacked out in the bed next to me and my mother reports that he is in the exact same position in which he fell asleep 5 hours ago. That’s right. Giving up the nap has made bedtime a cinch (not that it was ever that hard to begin with.)

Tomorrow, we are off to see Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and their ducklings at the Public Garden. I am also calling tomorrow “Focus on the Moment” day and I am leaving my phone behind. I will bring my real camera because — hello? Ducklings! — but I won’t be texting or checking Facebook or Instagramming. I am still working on finding the balance, but tomorrow’s outing seems like a good place to start.

Awake.

Day one on the road was largely uneventful, but overstimulated boy is still awake in the next bed, trying to lure me into a conversation. I suppose this is the fallout from deciding to have lunch in Philly after the pride parade instead of just hitting the road. We didn’t end up here in CT until 8. Then there was the excitement of two giant beds to jump on and pizza to order and eat. Thomas to watch. Not to mention our regular evening routine of pottying after dinner, which can be a pretty long affair. (I would like to take this opportunity to pat myself on the back for remembering to bring the potty converter seat.)

Tomorrow, we will be up bright and early (because isn’t that the preschooler rule? 6am wake up no matter what time you eventually drop off?) and then we are on the road again for the final leg. Maybe that will be uneventful too. Fingers crossed.

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2012, Part 1.

There’s this meme I’ve been doing for a lot of years.* I swear I did it on Facebook last year, but now I can’t find it — even with the new fancy Timeline. Whatev, Facebook. Thanks for nothing. Anyway, this is 40 questions long. I’m going to answer 8 each day for the next 5 days and then it will be 2012. Yes. Bring it.

*I’d love for you to do this, too. Either in comments or on your own blog.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Joined the neighborhood pool. I’ve written about this pool thing before, but it’s monumental enough to mention here again because of what joining it required me to do: don a swimsuit in public, haul a toddler and all of his stuff in the blazing heat while wearing said swimsuit, and then parade around the pool grounds, in and out of water, often bending in unflattering positions, while surrounded by my friends. It was so worth it, though. The pool was pretty much the highlight of my summer.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I have no idea what I resolved to do last year, but I do have some for this year. I love resolutions. And I hate them. I lovehate them. I believe that resolving to do something sets one up for certain failure. And also, the popularity of them makes it seem like we are all so wrong and bad and broken that we need to resolve to change and fix and be better. I suppose I could resolve to stay the same. But even then. Still, that said, I love a clean slate. A fresh start is my dreamy boyfriend. I’m probably not disclosing my specific resolutions anywhere except maybe in my personal journal, but I do have some.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No. Not yet. But I know quite a few pregnants. And while I, of course, hope they all go well, there is one in particular that I feel really invested in. I really can’t wait to meet this baby and see the fruits of this couple’s labor get rewarded with a tiny human. They deserve it.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yeah. My Nana died. She was coming up on 95 years old and whenever I hear about people that old who have died, it always seems to me that their age should mitigate the family’s pain. But it doesn’t.

5. What countries did you visit?
None.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
So many tangibles: a potty-trained child being at the very top of my list today. A new printer that actually works with my computer. A real driveway. Always more money. It’s the intangibles that really count, though. More self-respect. More self-control. Less self-criticism. Stuff like that there.

7. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
11-11-11. Because people just couldn’t stop talking about it.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Paying off my car and my student loans, although, by all accounts, I really shouldn’t count this as my achievement. M* did it with her hard work, her impeccable bookkeeping and her commitment to our family being debt-free. I never could have done it alone — at least not in 2011.

24/7.

Things I have learned during these days of 24/7 solo parenting (while m* is away for work):

  1. Parenting is way easier and more enjoyable when I have had enough sleep.
  2. Being hot and sweaty really compromises my ability to be patient.
  3. It’s harder for me to stay “hands-off” on the potty training when the above two things are going on.
  4. I actually don’t hate imaginative play; I just hate doing it when I need to run around in the house.
  5. I will need to work hard at continuing to interact, play, and be present when I don’t have to (like when he is an older kid on the playground, as opposed to now when I still can’t take my eyes off of him for a second.)
  6. Maintaining an early nap and bedtime is well worth the morning plans cut short.
  7. Deleting the Facebook app from my phone and changing email settings to not notify me every time one comes in has freed up a lot of time and has made me feel less resentful of The Who’s demand for my attwntion..
  8. I can’t wait for day care to start next week.

 

I suck.

I don’t want to hear platitudes like “this is hard for everyone,” or “don’t be so hard on yourself.” There has to be more productive feedback than that. Do you have some?

I was away for two weeks. That was a really long time. And although I was with my parents and with my brother’s family and with M* for parts of all of it, it was still a long time. A lot of transitions for me and a lot of transitions for The Who, which made neither of us at our best. By the end of it, his string of “why” questions was so long and continuous that it was actually laughable. Except it was also maddening. So I was laughing, but in this mad way. In this “I am going to have to punch him in the head if he doesn’t shut the fuck up” way, which is not really laughable at all.

**Let me interject here that I have never done anything worse than grabbing his arm a little tighter than is probably kosher. I have never snapped his arms off and stuffed them in his mouth, as I have fantasized doing. And I have never drop-kicked him into his room as I have also fantasized doing. And I never will. But I am sure I will continue to fantasize about it.

Yesterday — the day after we got home from 14 days away — I started potty-training him. I actually think he’s ready. I think he knows how to hold it and can certainly communicate and given that we have all this time together, it seemed ideal.

I was wrong. I mean, he is ready. And it’s working. We actually went on an outing today to Target and he made it all the way there and back with no peeing. So, I do think the time is right. But coming home from 14 days away, already sick of his voice and already wishing my name wasn’t “Mama” was not the ideal time to hole myself up with him in the house, unable to walk away from him for five minutes, unable to go out and go grocery shopping, unable to take a shower, unable (disallowed, really. The kid’s a little dictator) to wear anything but jammies.

Yesterday, the house dissolved further and further into disarray. Toys everywhere. Every letter from the foam alphabet mat plucked from it’s spot and tossed into a pile (twice.) Dishes in the sink. Delivery containers on the counter. Little piles of peed-on jammies waiting to go into the wash. The house was dark and confining while the sun I could see from the windows was shining, brilliant and inviting. The Who napped for 3.5 hours yesterday. I slept for 1.5 of them with him in my bed. We must have both needed it, but when we woke up, it was almost 5pm. I felt horrible. I was hungry and we had no food. I felt trapped and groggy and we were still hours away from M*’s arrival home from work, with only the promise of a late bedtime for The Who, very little time for myself, and another day of the same shit to come.

Today has only been worse. The house is growing more and more disheveled as each day passes and I have absolutely no impetus to clean it up. I did finally insist that I was taking a shower and I just figured that if he peed, he peed. Whatever. When I finally got us both together and clean and dressed, I left the chaos at home behind the locked door and went to Target. Our big outing for the day — to buy more underwear.

We actually had a ball at Target. He walked with me and was mostly cooperative, but he got hungry and cranky as we were checking out. My fault for bringing him out at naptime, but I couldn’t get it together earlier and I needed to see the sun and feel the air and talk to other people. 14 days of beach and family and then stuck in a dark quiet house is not a recipe for success for me.

After lunch and on our way to leave, I gave him the option of the elevator or the escalator to get upstairs and he chose the escalator (humming the “excavator” song we know as we rode up. How charming is that?) At the top, he held my hand and we walked toward the door, but when we passed the elevator, he told me he wanted to ride that. I should have just done it. Ugh. I really should have. But I was worried that he didn’t have long before needing to pee again and I knew he was tired and that I needed to get him home to nap and I said no. And once I said no, even though I re-thought it, I figured I couldn’t go back on it. But he rebelled. Loud and hard, dropping to his knees in the middle of the entrance to Target and we became that mom and kid, battling it out.  took a few steps from him, heading toward the door. He called my bluff. I demanded that he “come here” but he didn’t, so I walked to him, took his hand, and led him firmly into the parking lot, where he proceeded to scream louder and insist that he wanted to walk out the doors himself. So I let him go back in and come back out himself, which he did. Then he whined all the way to the car. Then he remembered how sad he was about the elevator and he amped up again. And this is when I started to morph into someone I don’t even know. I felt like I was going to explode out of my skin. I felt like I had no tools in my toolbox for this situation. I had to get in the car with this banshee and drive us home, but I just wanted to get on a bus alone and go somewhere else. So I told him it was ok to be sad and to cry, but it was not ok to whine and scream at me. He took it down a notch.

Approaching home, I told him it would be naptime when we got there. He whined that he wanted to “play for a couple of minutes,” whined being the key term. Each whiny word was another five minutes off my life. At home, he whined about wanting his red airplane, which I knew was upstairs. He whined at me not to pick up his blocks as I picked them up. I was sweating. I had had it. I felt like I was going to burst into flames if he kept whining. “Go upstairs,” I said, still calmly, “and see if your red airplane is up there near your crib.” So, he went. Whining the whole way. Then he stood up there, whining. I finished putting the blocks away and then I completely lost my shit. “STOP WHINING!” I yelled, in a voice that rumbled and tore up my throat. I think I even peed a little from the force of my voice. Honest to god. He cried harder. I was scaring him, I’m sure. I was scaring myself. I stomped, literally, to the bottom of the steps and then yelled again, “COME HERE,” as I reached the top. He, still crying (harder now) came toward me and as he did, bowed out his knees and cried, “I’m pooping!” as a whole bladderful of urine leaked down his legs. I immediately softened and pulled him into a hug.

“It’s ok, bud. It’s just pee. It’s ok.” He buried his face in my neck. I was shaking and sweating and I started to think about changing him, but realized there was no underwear upstairs and the thought of having to go back down put me over the edge. “I need a minute by myself,” I said and went into my room, closed the door, turned the fan on high (hoping to drown out his voice) and sucked back a sob. In the hall, he cried, “I can’t find my mama,” and so I went back out. Told him again it was ok. Took him down to his room to put on a diaper (for nap) and new shorts, but he insisted, of course, on jammies. I tried to tell him “clothes for daytime; jammies for night” (why was I still battling him?) but he was having no part of it and I soon relented. Fine. FINE. FINEFINEFINE. Jammies. FINE. But he continued to whine and cry as I was putting them on. “You need to stop crying. I will put these on, but please, stop crying.”

“It’s too hard,” he said, wiping his eyes. “I can’t get better.”

Jesus. I am such an asshole. He is two goddamn years old.

Once he was in his jammies, I pulled him into my lap and hugged him. “I’m sorry I yelled, bud,” I told him and he whispered back, “ok.” I said, “I got very angry when you were whining, but I should not have yelled.” Then he nuzzled into my neck and I said, “I don’t like it when I yell at you.” And he said, very quietly, “I don’t like it too.”

We sat like that for five more minutes while I tried to keep my crying quiet and unnoticeable and then I put him in the crib. I sang him a song. I covered him up, told him I loved him, turned on his nightlight, came downstairs, and sobbed for ten minutes.

I don’t want to lose my shit like that. I don’t want to yell at him and I don’t want to make him stop feeling things when he’s feeling them just because it’s hard for me to tolerate it. But I also don’t know what the hell to do. I don’t know how to manage myself in those situations. I honest to god don’t know.

Second-hand.

There’s something about hand-me-downs. I love them. And although I certainly appreciate the ones that come to us in mint condition, I think my favorites are the pilly old pj’s with the stretched out elastics and the jeans with the threadbare knees.

I love to slip him into things that I remember my nephew wearing ten years ago or that I know friends’ kids have kicked around in. It’s almost like the history is woven into the fiber, which, no matter how cute or current or charming it may be, you’ll never find in a new piece of clothing.