I understand when they throw fits over things that make sense, like being denied something, or having to go to bed or take a bath, etc...but it's the endless meltdowns over nothing that drive me utterly insane. This morning B just lost it while I was making breakfast, for no reason. Nothing out of the ordinary. Perfectly pleasant morning before then, getting dressed and playing with the baby on the bed. So why the hysterical crying, pushing me, throwing things, yelling no? Why? I just lost it. After listening to this for probably half an hour and trying everything to distract him, including just ignoring it, and after his freaking out further when I tried to help him get settled on his chair which he couldn't possibly pull out by himself, I took him by his shoulders and tossed him on his bed, shutting the bedroom door behind him. Judge all you want. It was what I had to do in that moment.
As I sat at the table utterly defeated and guilty, my heart broke as I looked over at his cute little breakfast - cut up buttered toast and milk in a sippy cup and scrambled eggs with his little spoon. Why do kids' things always radiate this air of joy and innocence, yet life with kids is so often situations like this - ugliness and anger and crying?
I hate the rage he inspires in me - it scares me, and I wish I had more control over it. I still think I have a pretty long fuse, believe it or not, but man oh man. I simply cannot stand these inexplicable endless tantrums. Cannot stand them. Thank god I at least have a room to put him in so we can both calm down - for the record when I let him out he marched right over to the table, climbed up on the chair I had pulled out for him, and obediently ate his breakfast. And the rest of the day he was nothing but delightful. So...what the fuck?
It makes me wonder if living with a toddler is anything like living with a mentally ill person. Always being on eggshells wondering what the person is going to be like that day, dealing with their inability to communicate, dealing with their loose grip on reality, dealing with the power struggles, having given up so many things that give you pleasure because you love this person and want to care for them, but some days it just hardly seems worth it. Sometimes I wonder if all parents of small children just walk around shell shocked, wondering what happened to their sweet, compliant little baby, and wondering when it's going to get better again, because right now, it's pretty horrible.
A friend of mine with a two year old recently admitted that since she stopped drinking wine in the evenings she mostly just wants to kill herself. She was half kidding, but the pain was real. Her son is a real handful - the kind of scene I described from this morning which is a rarity around here she says happens to her all day, every day. That he's pretty much never not throwing a tantrum. What would I do if I had a kid like that? What if Theo is like that? I think I would take up drinking wine - or kill myself - or both!
I swear if there was a therapist who specialized in traumatized parents of toddlers, I'd sign up for that in a heartbeat, cost be damned. I feel like I need to talk to someone about how compromised I feel, how much I need some time to myself, how I spend every day counting the minutes until it's his bed time. How much better of a parent I'd be if it wasn't my job 24/7 and if I ever got a frigging break.
I think this has all ramped up lately because now even the time I usually reserve for myself - B's 6 pm bedtime until my bedtime - is no longer mine, as I juggle a fussy, endlessly breast feeding baby with making myself dinner, straightening up the house, and (god forbid) actually getting some work done. Since the baby is in the carrier or car and sleeps all day, he then takes the evening/overnight to be fussy and eat. I don't know how to fix this, since the alternative - fussy, hungry baby during the day when I have to entertain B - is not feasible. It does all leave me pretty damned exhausted.
I can't wait until this first six weeks of T's life is up and I can get back to some of my child-free activities, once I'm ok with leaving him with a sitter. Singing gigs, movies, book club, dinners out - these are the things that I need to feel human again. Also, a smile from the little lad wouldn't hurt.
I honestly don't know how we all survived toddlerhood, since I'm sure we were all in our own unique way, awful. Our parents must have been saints.