Friday, March 30, 2012


This song helped me write this post, so there's every good chance it could help you get through the reading of it.

This morning was hell. Well, my kind of hell, anyway. Last weekend we began putting the girls to sleep together at the same time and in their own shared room, and I think that last night all the giggling that kept them up late was them conspiring to make this morning as difficult as possible for me. Either that, or the aggregate amount of sleep they've lost this week due to the change just finally caught up with them. One or the other.

I don't want to bore you with the details. Suffice to say, Evie is almost two, and living up to it. She wants to do everything herself, but can't, so she gets mad and cries. But she cries even more if you try to help her. As a result, these days there's a lot of throwing down and wailing on the ground and repeating over and over her catchphrase of the day: whereas most toddlers say, "I can do it," Evie says, "I help!" or, more specifically, "NO! Ah hepf! AAAAAHH HEPF!!!!"

Cute, right? Yes, super cute. The first hundred and fifty thousand times.

That was pretty much her M.O. all morning, while Lena decided to simultaneously throw a knock-down drag-out sobbing/defiant screaming fit over the fact that I wouldn't let her wear a flimsy Hawaiian dress to school on a chilly gray day. She kept it up for a solid half-hour, all the while Evie kept up her own nonsense. At one point Lena was standing on her bed, uncontrollably crying in huge gulping wails, while I had my hands on her shoulders, trying SO hard to get her to look at me so I could TRY to calm her down, when Evie climbed up on the bed, too, and looked at Lena, looked at me, looked back at Lena, and then began to copy Lena's sobs in big, overly exaggerated pretend wails of her own. "WAAAUUGH! WAAAAUUGH! WAAAAUGH!" she said, then stopped and looked at me with her eyebrows raised and her little lips screwed up, questioning, as if to say, "So, did I do that right?"

I would have laughed - a lot - if I had not been so beside myself. But I was cooked. I'd already been through the five stages of parenting a toddler during a meltdown: Patient Explanation, Attempts at Distraction, Ignoring, Complete Temper Loss and Issuance of Punishment Consequences (sorry, I forgot it was the 21st century for a second), and Guilt. But it didn't matter. Nothing worked. And yet, somehow everyone eventually managed to get dressed and we headed off to preschool at last, Lena chirping cheerily the whole way there as though the morning had been a picnic complete with cupcakes and bunnies and unicorns.

And I feel like a jerk. SO glad to have the girls off to school. Tempted to leave them there over the weekend. Do you think anyone would notice? But mostly feeling like a jerk. Surely I did something wrong, didn't have the foresight to head off the fashion drama, could have reacted better to the baby, didn't really HAVE to lose my temper in the end. And I find myself wondering if the girls will remember it at all, or if they will ALWAYS remember it, that day that mommy got so mad that she yelled back. Are they going to be hurt by it, by my seeming imcompetence?  And I have the nerve to even consider having three? I am clearly out of my mind.

This parenting thing isn't easy. I think this is the point at which I'm supposed to thank my own mom for putting up with me all those years. But Mom, really, that dress was HIDEOUS, and it didn't have a waist, and you wanted me to wear it for PICTURES? And you didn't see the meltdown coming? Just because Grandma sewed that dress just for me, just because you had two other kids to manage and dress for pictures and haul off to school on time, too, is clearly no excuse. What were you thinking??

Oh, all right. Thanks, Mom. You were, and are, the best. I think of you on mornings like this and wish I was more like you. I'm working on it. Truly and sincerely, I am working so hard to be more like you were with us.  But you set a such a high example, and I know I have a long way to go.  Such a long way.


carrolls said...

wow. sorry about all that. we just started putting our girls (yes 2 of them, one in school, one 2 years-old) to bed together, and finally gave up. neither were getting enough sleep, so back in their own rooms for now. can't tell you how many reorganizations of crib-bed-packnplay that we've done. hang in there. you're a midwesterner darn it. :-)

Becky said...

Ah Melanie,
Yes, it's okay that you yelled at your kids. You're not a jerk. You're a mom. No, they won't remember it. And there will be more times like that I'm sure. So don't beat yourself up. :-)

Ruthann said...

You are an INCREDABLE mum. I am always inspired and amazed by you. You have a beautiful family and you do such a wonderful job with them. They are very lucky little girls.

melanie said...

Hey, thank you, all of you. It's so nice to hear from other parents that I'm not totally screwing up my own kids. It would be nice to have solid proof, but I appreciate what I can get right now. :)