Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Parenting is hard

It's been a rough few days. For reasons unknown to me, both boys have been just awful all week. I find myself feeling like a stripped screw - jagged and ineffective; barking orders and slamming things (thankfully not the children) around, even swearing. It sucks. I am not prepared for the overlap of terrible twos and horrible threes. 

After yet another frustrating day with a toddler who now refuses to eat anything outside of breakfast, throws everything on the ground and then screams if you try to take it away, fights all diaper changes, car transfers, everything, we get to school to discover Bobby has just wet his pants. Cue screaming crying fit while I attempt to change him in the school bathroom with his whole class looking on and his brother running around touching everything. He doesn't like those pants, he doesn't like those shoes, he doesn't want those underwear, all with me finally having to threaten to walk out and leave him before he'd agree to get dressed. Then more screaming and crying in the car, being mean to his brother because all that anger has to go somewhere, me barking at him for screaming at/pushing his brother, him screaming at me that I make him sad, etc. Then when I finally drag us all up the three flights of stairs kicking and screaming to our house, they both run around like maniacs while I attempt to cook dinner and then they both refuse to eat even a bite of any of it, after which I bitterly throw it all in the garbage, complaining to no one how glad I am I wasted all that time and food for nothing. 

Today more bullshit with refusing to put on shoes, refusing to use the potty, refusing to get in the car, a toddler who squirmed and screamed and threw things on the floor during an ill-advised lunch date and then refused to eat any lunch once we got home, that I finally just plunked in his crib and slammed the door, with resultant screaming.

I am so fucking over this. But there is no escape. No amount of date nights, vacations, babysitting money nor preschool will change the fact that little kids, most of the time, are horrible. This is the life I've chosen and I have no choice but to push forward. 

This morning my Brazilian cousin, the one person from my father's family who I'm connected to on Facebook, messaged to tell me my father has had a heart attack and is awaiting surgery that he was already scheduled for in Feb that they're hoping can be moved up. He's had heart issues on and off for years. He's not old - still in his sixties - but I have to accept that this might be "it". I have not seen the man since 1980 and our contact since has been sporadic at best; I feel ambivalent about him but also sad in that we'll never get to "work anything out", whatever that means. I don't know what happens when he dies; there's no way I can just hop on an airplane to Brazil. I might stand to inherit some land, but knowing how shady he is I wouldn't be surprised if his vague promises in that department were just a pipe dream (I am his only child). Anyway. It's that time of life - wrestling with small children and also coping with your own ailing parents. And so it goes.

Monday, January 25, 2016

T minus one week

One week until registration opens for my event. It's crazy to think how stressed out and in debt I was this time last year - the most broke I'd been since 2001, spending down my paltry savings and deferring bills. And this year I'm hardly thinking about registration at all because I have a nice little surplus and the confidence of a strong year behind me. What a difference a year makes, eh?

And yet any year I could find myself right back there. My income may be decent at times but it sure is unpredictable. And I'm about to embark on two very expensive years with two kids in preschool at the same time. Holding my breath I can pull it off and make it to fall of 2019 when Theo starts free kindergarten at the awesome LAUSD school up in the hill that, if I lived across the street, we wouldn't be zoned for. And suddenly both kids' schooling is 100% free after paying through the nose for years. When I was single and childless I thought free universal preschool was a huge waste of resources, but boy do I get it now!

We had a busy weekend with lots of play dates and activities, which left me so exhausted I could barely move at the end of each day. The boys are getting so rambunctious now - Theo is officially in terrible two mode as of a few days ago - I can barely keep up. It is the perfect time for school to take the brunt of all that crazy boy energy; Bobby being there all week is absolutely wonderful, and Theo will start anywhere as early as March or as late as June but hopefully no later. I'm supposed to check in in February which is now next week. March, March, March!

Sunday we went to this nifty train museum which is where I normally book the boys' birthday, but in fear of being rained out by El NiƱo (which has yet to manifest itself) I instead booked a cheap indoor play space in the neighborhood. We only get two hours and set up is minimal, so it's going to be far less labor intensive than our usual gatherings, which is kind of a good thing and kind of a bad thing since I enjoy it. We're doing a robot theme which is really my excuse to have a Kraftwerk theme. If you're looking for me in the next two months I will be buried in Pinterest.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Present and Future

So, I appear to have a potty trained child. During the day, anyway. One day I was going to pop a diaper on my almost four-year-old, and it just felt ridiculous. So I put away the remaining diapers and just stopped asking B if he wanted a diaper or underpants. And sucked up my own fear of being out all day with a three-year-old not in a diaper. And you know what? We did just fine. I made sure he peed before we left the house and then once when we were out. And it turns out he doesn't have to pee anywhere near as often as I'd expected, nor is he afraid of public bathrooms. So I think we've finally done it. Next up, getting him to stop crapping in his pull-ups and sleeping in poo all night. The thought that someday I could actually start my day by not changing two foul shitty diapers makes me thrill with joy.

I can't tell you what B being at school every day has done for me. It's just so much easier to get things done around here (and January is a very busy tax and work time for me, so there's a lot to do) and makes the time I do spend with both boys much more enjoyable. We had a really nice time on the holiday Monday at a free museum day which normally, between the crowds and the parking and general stress, would have made me want to strangle everyone. 

The boys are playing together much better these days. Theo hugs his brother a lot, Bobby tells Theo he loves him, and seems to finally have grasped the concept of making sure his brother has a toy, too, not pushing or kicking him, etc. I know they'll always fight and get annoyed by each other, but as long as they seem to have a core base of love there, that's all I care about. I'm starting to feel better about moving them into the same room in a few weeks.

Speaking of which, I am waiting for my event registration to open Feb 1st before committing to the renovations that need to be done to move the boys in together - hardwood flooring, replastering of ceiling, paint, light fixtures, etc. I just want to make sure I have the money for all that. Theo is in no danger of hopping out of his crib so he's still safe upstairs in the attic, and I'm in no hurry otherwise.

The Boyfriend and I hit six months together a few days ago. I am also hesitant to do the renovations because part of it entails buying a new, larger bed, and I don't want this to signal to him that it's time to move in. I'm just not ready for that. Last week I had a bit of a freak out picturing a long term commitment with this man - he just kind of doesn't have his shit together, and right now as we're only dating I don't have to worry about it because his problems are no concern of mine. Will he get his shit together? This is the big question. I just don't know. But then I reminded myself that I don't have to do anything I don't want to - I don't have to invite him to share this house with me, I don't have to marry him if he asks. Of course if he wants those things and I don't, eventually things will come to a head. But not yet. I'm going to enjoy this dating time while I can and try not to worry about the future for now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Bowie-sized hole in my heart

So, David Bowie died the other night. I know for many of you this was a quick "aw, that sucks," moment, and then on to other things. But for me it's been a pretty huge, heartbreaking event.

In talking at length about it with like-minded friends, I think our sorrow over the loss of this icon breaks down to a few things:

He made the weird feel accepted and wonderful

He broke ground in the area of gender fluidity

He was a true artist, unafraid to take chances, be ugly, be vulnerable, be romantic, be silly, and change at will

We all wonder if our kids will experience this level of artistry in their lives or if those days are behind us. Which saddens me.

Then again, I was obsessed with Bowie's early 70s work in the late 80s, so I guess there's no reason my kids couldn't enjoy non-contemporary music the same way I did. I think Bowie was the spirit animal for anyone who felt different, who had an artistic sensibility, who was a romantic, who liked to dream. And he wrote some of the most achingly beautiful music I've ever heard. We're all feeling the loss hard. I posted on Facebook that I feel like my childhood just died. Many people agreed with this.

Several people texted to ask if I was ok, which was sweet, and made me realize how vocal I've been in my fandom over the years. Next to The Beatles, my first obsession, Bowie was for sure on that list. And he's gone at the way too early age of 69. There's a Bowie-sized hole in my heart that nothing will ever fill.

In other news, Bobby started five day school yesterday. The fact that he is going back to school today after being there yesterday, is something I can't really wrap my head around. I thought so many times yesterday, as I always do on Mondays, "what the fuck am I going to do with these kids tomorrow?" that it makes me wonder how many times I thought this every week, and how much that must have added to my general stress levels. I have a lot to do this week - accounting stuff, mostly - but the fact that I have a couple of hours each day to do it, is amazing. Just wait until the little guy is there, too - oh my God!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Movin' on Up

After my venting session Monday I did feel better. Sometimes you just need to bitch and then fall into a sobbing pile of self-pity, then dust yourself off and start over again.

Or kind of did. The next day I woke up - guess what? - horribly nauseated and with bad stomach cramps. Yes. Again. It was not a school day and was pouring rain, so the three of us passed a miserable day with me in bed trying not to puke while the boys rampaged through the house. I used to be terrified of being sick with two kids; now it's happened so many damned times I just take it in stride. 

I did an informal poll and apparently many of my LA friends with young children are on their third or fourth bout of norovirus this winter. So apparently what's happening to us is not uncommon. If someone could come up with a vaccine for this fucking thing, I would pay a million dollars. As of today I am functional but still nauseated and weak. Good times. Boyfriend has it, too. Now I'm on vomit watch with the kids.

In other, happier news, Bobby starts five day school next week. I got an email that they also want to move him up to this transitional class that takes young 4 year olds and older 3 year olds before Pre-K officially starts in September. I met with his new teacher, who knows him from around school, and she said with sincerity that she was really excited to have him in her class and that his language skills were really advanced (this from the kid who said nary a word until he was 2 1/2. Not too shabby). I hope all the changes next week aren't too jarring for him. I'm hoping five day school will increase his confidence about wearing underpants. I've already told him it's all underwear once he turns four (during the day, anyway). I've got to draw the line somewhere.

I've taken two steps forward with The Boyfriend. In order to make both our lives easier, I gave him a key. Also I cleared a drawer and half a closet for him and am now doing his laundry. I am still nowhere near ready to have him move in. But, you know, baby steps.

Monday, January 4, 2016

All the feels

It's official. I am depressed.

The good thing about understanding depression is knowing that it will pass and you'll feel normal again. The bad thing about understanding depression is knowing that no matter how good you feel, depression will rear its ugly head again sooner or later.

Lately I've been looking at all of my married child-free friends' posts on FB and thinking maybe they're on to something. They get to take awesome vacations, live in tidy houses, dress nicely, indulge in pampering and self-care and quiet to their hearts' content. And still have plenty of love and companionship and a plan to (hopefully) not be alone in their old age. Sounds pretty good to me.

The last few days of this seemingly endless "vacation" I have felt like crying pretty much all day every day and have been waking up with no desire to start the day. I feel like I can't stand one more minute of:

Sticky hands with black fingernails they refuse to let me trim
Being kicked to death as I try to change them
Both kids being cranky whiny hot messes in the morning as I'm trying to get them changed/dressed/fed/teeth brushed/etc
Wiping, constantly wiping every surface and floor in this house
Refilling sippy cups
Loading/unloading the dishwasher
Laundry that never ends
Garbage cans and diaper pails that are always spilling over
A three year old who screams and hits when I try to gently cajole him into using the potty, then runs into the living room and pees all over the carpet
A three year old who contradicts everything I say
A three year old who refuses to eat anything, ever, and is currently skin and bones 
A three year old, in general 

I am just so fed up and over all of it. I feel like I have the exhaustion of Methuselah, but none of the "breaks" I arrange for myself seem to make any difference. They spent a whole day on Saturday at the "baby kennel" while I hung out with friends - a luxury most mothers could scarecely dream of - and yet I was still exhausted. 

I think even a week on the beach in Hawaii by myself would not be enough. Nothing would be enough. 

Theo is pretty easy and low-key. He's a great eater, sleeper, and all-around great kid. His presence has not added much stress to my life other than just more physical wrangling. And Bobby - bless 'im - is a good boy in general. I do love him - heck, I even like him - but, you know, three. The amount of mental and verbal gymnastics I have to go through all day every day just for the most basic things - getting dressed, putting shoes on, eating lunch, taking a bath, peeing, etcetc. Yesterday a simple day at home with The Boyfriend doing some home repairs left me so emotionally drained that I ended the day throwing things and swearing after B pissed on the carpet after refusing to use the potty and then refused to brush his teeth. Moments like that, and knowing how many thousands like it I still have ahead of me, fill me with despair. And this is with everything going well - business on track, healthy kids, nice relationship, roof over my head, etc. What would I do if even one of those things changed? Cease functioning entirely? 

Anyway. All of this is just depression talking, and I know that. Soon - maybe even tomorrow - I'll feel differently, and these things that seem so insurmountable now will appear manageable. In just a week B starts school every day and that is going to be huge. 

But at this moment I feel really shitty and overwhelmed and fed up. I can admit that. All I want is the kids to go to bed so I can watch Downton Abbey and put on the kettle and a nice fire. Then see what tomorrow brings.