Tuesday, October 05, 2010

It's just a phase, right?

Things have gotten very exciting here. Owen is gated up in the kitchen with a shaved-naked and visibly withered drumstick haunch. He ranges emotionally between visibly depressed and thickly morose, depending on how tranquilized he is at the moment -- though he can rally a good swooping howl and nerve-wracking broken-legged leap, even from the depths of a drug stupor, when any of us come home. These moments are, you know, his only high points during this trial long convalescence... homecomings aaaand the radio... oh, and going outside long enough to pee! Three weeks down, five more to go.

Immediately after surgery, pre-atrophy

Also, we have more teeth: big fat molars = punchypunchy baby! It's a curious fact that toddlers haven't gone extinct. They seem to have an uncanny ability to know exactly when to come around hugging and kissing. Seriously, she is really fucking cute and cute works on me. And so does the feeling of insane, terminal-velocity mamalove. But, fuck!, it ain't easy. I actually banged my head on the wall today, about five or six thumps. At times, always lately, I feel like the most clueless, under-prepared, incompetent person to ever try mothering which is a double blow because I had gotten smug, I was going to be a better! mother! than all the mothers I've known. But hold that phone! The contest has hardly begun, and there is still plenty of wine.

This face?

I really don't know what I am doing! Today I just stopped trying to negotiate what I thought was a pretty fair compromise which went like this: okay! you got to brush your teeth, now it's mama's turn (to brush your teeth) (so cheery) and finally, because it was received with back-arching howls anyway, I just executed some street justice and wrenched the toothbrush out of her hands with my superior strength and we suffered the consequences together - on the floor, snotty, and streaming hot tears. Bonus, she still comes to me for consolation, even when the disconsolating event is of my doing.

So that, with scene reruns re: lotion, nail clippers, food, clothing (and other things I wasn't even given enough time to deny her of), was our day, week, month? year? How long does this phase last? So yes, I'm making a list of resources: The library is a discrete way of getting information. Parenting websites too, though maybe other parents aren't quite willing to use the same language I use to describe my toddler's behavior (badger in a dress) which makes the search results either dishonest, or upsetting, or both. Other parents? I need specific advice instead of platitudes. I want someone to tell me this: When A happens, then B should be your course of action, in which B is nothing abusive, or non-life affirming.

I think, as times have noticeably darkened in this struggle for independence, about that smug anti-parenting article citing non-parents self-reported higher levels of happiness, and I remember the quote "my family are like millstones around my neck" and, with a nod, I still wouldn't un-wish. This is not to say That. I just want to make it easier on us, me maybe mostly her.

this face?

holymother! so I had a dreams last night that was such metaphorical overkill! It was me at the funnest, swanky party but I could not, WOULD NOT stay because, no! this isn't like me!, and plus I had to get home to sleeping Thea. So instead I spent the entire party into the early morning hours searching the grounds for a to-go box, or even a dirty plate so I could bring home some of the amazing food from the banquet tables. But I could not find a container, or, then I could not hold onto a container, or find another... and all around me were people in various states of rapturous life-affirmation fun-having. And the food slowly disappeared, then the desserts disappeared, and the people started to disappear and I was still thinking I had to find this container because maybe the food had just been put in the fridge, and I could still make it home. And yet, my niece, who was supposed to be babysitting Thea, drifted into and out of the crowd, mentioning that she had told the neighbors that I would be right back and they weren't really keeping Thea safe, but had an ear out for her, so there was THIS too, this urgency to send my niece back to watch Thea, or to get back myself, but I just had to get this container! Why didn't I just eat the fucking food?

you guys! what is the food? did I have this dream because one of the classes I interpreted on Thoreau and his LIVE FOR NO-OTHER credo? is this just because I feel so weighed down and dispersed by the piles of things in my head I mean to get around to, but refuse to sacrifice NARY A ONE, EVEN IF IT MEANS I'VE THEN SACRIFICED THEM ALL?

Just... damn! I wish I had time for all the library books I have checked out. At least I can keep renewing them, over and over again. Eventually, I'll read up all the answers.


Roy said...

What a face.

How long does this phase last, you ask? Which phase is that? The one where your life is not your own anymore?

Hmm. I'll let you know.

PS: This was hilarious. OK, partly because it's you and not me.

eclectic said...

She's gorgeous! And really, as enthralled as I was by my daughter at Thea's age (and I was), I would not go back there for anything because who she is now at 16 is even more enthralling and a whole heckuva lot less work. Yeah, she still needs parenting, but it's a different type of parenting which is still challenging, but not mind-numbingly frustrating in the way that toddlerhood parenting can be.

Anyway, I have old news for you: you ARE a better! mother! than any that Thea has ever known, and she's about the luckiest little girl for it, too.

eclectic said...

P.S. Also, please snuggle Owen for me. Poor lad, it won't last forever!

asha said...

Yeowie. That face! But don't worry. Of course it's a phase. It will be over in a week or two. A month at most.

Mr. Donut said...

It will last until she has a child of her own.

Kristiana said...

Roy - Isn't that true. I write this so I can look back and laugh when it isn't me anymore either.

Shari - i hope my daughter is as classy as yours as a teenager. I will give Owen a big kiss for you.

Mom - you come. i need you.

Lee(?) - ouch. in that case i would never end.

asha said...

Music to my ears. I am already planning the trip. Let's talk. xoxoxo

Roy said...

Of course it's a phase. It will be over in a week or two. A month at most.


Actually, maybe just a few more hours. You might check after dinner.

nina said...

I had a 25-year old argue "butt out mom" at me for 30 minutes straight last Thursday. Even though I "just" offered my opinion and didn't much care if she followed it and it was presented in the hope of achieving peace in a conflict ridden situation that had nothing to do with me.
After minute 25.5, I was in tears. Snotty nose too, I suppose.

I think it's easier when they're younger and haven't all their arguments in place. Oftentimes it helps to insert very early on in the argument a lot of empathy talk. Because they're screaming at you because they think you don't get their pain. So tell her you get her anguish and that it must be awful to have someone take away the very things she loves more than life (eg nail polish), when all she wanted to do was make her nails look pretty, and only then leap to some compromise.

Sometimes this works.

...Until they learn to respond with -- don't give me that psychology crap again.

But, such a face! Fantastic!

greg|regan said...

i agree with nina-- i think kids that age don't always realize that understand why they're upset, so it often seems to help if you affirm why they are upset. 'you really want the to hold the toothbrush, don't you?' or 'i know you want to go down the slide again, but now we have to go eat dinner so we can get lots of energy la la la..." also, maybe it would work now but more so when they're verbal, i've found it helps my son to ask him things like, "what would you play on if you could stay at the park for longer? oh, you would play on the swing... what do you like about the swing?" you'd think having them reflect on the things you're denying them would be a bad idea, but it actually really seems to defuse the situation because again, you're acknowledging what they want, even though they're not actually getting it.

Kristiana said...

Nina - Yes, I have fond memories of all the mother/daughter hardships to come. I hope yours was resolved in a nice way.

Greg|regan - That is good advice, of the sort I am always impressed with when I see it in action. I'll be sure to use it.

The thing that makes this particular stage so frustrating is precisely that she is not quite able to be manipulated by my smoothe-talkin' styles yet. On the other hand, it is dangerously easy to underestimate how much she actually does understand. The next day after I posted this I asked her very calmly to give me the toothbrush again and she started to hand it over, then hovered it in her grip above my palm, and finally changed her mind and yanked it away. She repeated this a few times with me calmly asking her to give me the toothbrush before she finally shrieked and threw it on the floor. I've never seen someone so visibly struggle with their better and worse impulses. Still, I'm counting it as progress.


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