It’s almost midnight and not much is well

Long day, fair readers. Long day. And I can briefly say that Peanut is handling kindergarten well, that he was reasonably eager the first few days of school.

Things are a bit stressful over here, between kindergarten and sibling asshattery and a mountain of freelance work (which I really wanted but which is piling up in my eagerness for work and inability to admit that two very active people demand almost all of my time).

So today I offer you this: someone else’s post. On keeping your cool. On seemingly insurmountable parenting anger and how to manage it. How to keep from sitting up at midnight worried that you’re making horrible, terrible, awful parenting choices. (Actually, that’s not in there. I really wish it were.)

Here. Enjoy. Identify your triggers, let the little stuff go, remember you’re teaching, and don’t take it personally. Thanks, www.mothering.com.

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Little Lord Fauntleroy

Someone found my blog by googling “how to change toddler clothes for nap.”

Several things. First: boy, did you find the wrong blog. I’m lucky if my kid wears clothes. When he does, they’re usually stained clothes because we don’t care, at all, and do laundry thusly: take clothes, throw in washing machine, add soap, wash, and leave for two days until you remember to dry them. Seriously. We don’t separate for color or size or fabric or any of the nonsense that other people seem to separate for. We don’t pretreat or chemically treat or trick or treat. We just freaking wash.

(Little secret: you know why we’re totally cavalier about laundry? ‘Cuz I don’t do it. Spouse does. And he could rub them in acid and douse them with lye and I would wear them with a smile on my face because it’s the one freaking thing around here I don’t have to do. Other than compost. So it’s the first of two things I don’t have to do. Yay me, yay Spouse, yay stains.)

But asking how to change toddler’s clothes for nap begs two rather obvious, if facetious, questions: what the hell is your kid wearing that it needs to be changed for nap; and how did you manage to get the one toddler in the world who tolerates costume changes? I have a kid who would rather sit in his jammies at home, running in small circles than actually don outside clothes to do his running in the sunlight. (Never stops moving, this one, so it’s a shock when he offers to stay in just to wear jammies.)

It’s not like our kid’s outside clothes are binding or rough or chosen by anyone but him. He just doesn’t like changing clothes. And he likes control. And I’ve just described 99% of toddlers, so who the hell is this googler parenting? How does his or her kid dress willingly in whatever breeches and bowtie Little Lord Fauntleroy costume they’re making him wear, AND willingly change again? (Notice how I pretended there was even one iota of a chance that the google dude is a guy? Please. What guy would even think to change clothes for nap? There are some awesome dads out there, but they attend to emotional, physical, and mental needs. Not weirdass bullshit. This is one of those moms who scrapbooks and crafts and bakes and sews curtains and makes furniture and color coordinates. All before dawn.) Does this jammies-then-clothes-then-jammies kid get to wear his jammies, then, for the rest of the day? Or do they (see, I did it again) change him a third time, and again for nighttime?

I’m all confused. I mean, it takes everything I have to be allegedly responsible and change my kid into clothes in the morning. I sleep in whatever I wear, and I often wear it again the next day (much to my mother’s try-to-keep-it-under-control-but-really-abject-and-borderline-screaming horror). So I’m pretty proud that I’m trying to be all socially acceptable and force my child from one comfy outfit into whatever creative combo he chooses in the morning (or afternoon or ten minutes before dinner when “Mommy, I HAVE to go outside”).

Now that I think about it, and just to make the world a bit more balanced after crazy google lady revealed her tidy little secret to the world via my 60-hit-a-day blog, maybe I’ll start letting my kid wear jammies all the time.

Wait, something just occured to me…are you one of those people who has a toddler in party dresses most days? Combed hair? Barrettes that match her shoes? You know what? It’s the holiday season, so I won’t judge. But I totally just lost 97% of my respect for you, oh random person who googled about changing a toddler’s clothes for nap, and forgot the possessive apostrophe and ess. So needless to say, there wasn’t a whole lot of respect left to lose. But you just wiped it all out, in one frilly crinoline and satin flourish.

Now I’m totally making tomorrow jammies day.

Rescue Remedy by the quart

I’m realizing just how many of my posts are angry, bitter rants. I’m trying not to feel guilty about that, because that’s the stuff I need to get out. I bottle it up all day because I don’t think it’s appropriate to be snippy in front of my son. And lucky for Spouse he’s 400 miles away or he’d take the brunt. So blogging has really helped get the vitriol flowing and out. I store up every ounce of courage I have and project peace and thoughtfulness and patience (mostly) during the day. But I’ve got to let the rants out. Leaving them inside blocks up all my mental pores and gives me angry, bitter, negative acne on my brain and in my heart.

So if you’re put off by my anger, please, scan down the archives. There are some lovely, life-affirming bits in here if you dig.

But I am trying to navigate the parenting roller coaster, and just haven’t find the right balance. When it’s good, it’s so eye-closingly, deep sigh infusingy, happy little sigh eruptingly, perma-smile grantingly good. When it’s hard, it’s so white-knuckle infuriatingly, self-esteem wrenchingly, bad-side revealingly, regret inspiringly, soul-leechingly hard that it takes my breath away. I really do, sometimes, wish I could find Rescue Remedy by the quart. The blister packs haven’t worked for me yet, and, in fact, make me a little less grounded because the solvent is alcohol and it just makes me want a pint of liquor.

Talking to working moms, stay-at-home-moms, stay-at-home-dads, and the childfree, I realize that the biggest issue for me about parenting is that the day’s rhythm is not my own. I don’t own one piece of the day, and I don’t control any of it rhythms. As an academic, I wrote when I percolated ideas, I read when I felt responsive to ideas, I rested when I needed rest, and I exercised when I needed a mental escape valve. As a professional, I went to meetings where everyone was ready to jump into one of a few appropriate energies to talk about a specific thing. When I worked independently I drifted into one of a few appropriate energies to think or write or create. When I needed to pee, I did. When I needed to eat, I usually did. Now the day’s schedules and energies and milestones and needs have nothing to do with what my mind or body needs, and it’s very destabilizing. Isolating. Frustrating. Sad.

Because with a child, my needs are subsumed by his. My rhythm is supplanted by his. When he needs to run around, we have to. Not because I feel children should be the center of the universe. I don’t. Because I live with this child and his needs are valid. I understand this child, and when he makes his physical or emotional needs known, I respect them (within reason). And if he is metaphorically swaddled when he needs to wiggle, or is forced to engage when he needs cuddling, all systems fail. He melts down (I still refuse to call this volitilty terrible twos. He’s not terrible. My life is not terrible. Our family is not terrible. He is struggling to control things and get some independence and he’s terrified and frustrated by his incompetence. But almost every vascillation is understandable, predictable, and reasonable. I wouldn’t do the things he does, but putting myself into his shoes and his experience, I know exactly why he does what he does. I sometimes marvel, sometimes balk, sometimes well up with anger, but I understand. And I can anticipate it when I’ve slept and eaten, both of which are rare, since, did I mention, my day is not my own, my timing is not the primary Blackberry by which we run our day, and my needs are secondary because I can meet them all by myself. He can’t, so his needs come first.)

I’m a tired, hungry, cranky parent. Hence, again, the need to spew nastiness into my blog. And I’m not sorry. I’m coping.