Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Roller-coaster Parenting

"You are great birth control."
"No, but your kids are adorable."

That's what an old high school friend said to me on Saturday when I met her for lunch at Bus Boys and Poets in NW DC.  I took Nene with me, and she threatened to flick on and off the restaurant lights once she discovered she could reach them from our bench.   First time she giggled when I shook a finger, then when she tried again I had to pull her away.  I know my dear friend intended her words harmless and playful, but I couldn't help feeling slightly offended.  I covered up with a joke.

I wanted to recoil back into a world filled only with holistic mamas, where I spend most of the time.  But every once and a while I try to poke my head out and get in some quality time with those girl friends of ages.  Those friends forever.  Of whom I was the first to have kids.

And this isn't the first time I've been told I'm good birth control.  The sad part is that the kids were acting relatively mildly behaved!

The weekend passed so smoothly and nicely.  A totally lazy weekend in the house with the kids listening to popular Brazilian music, building with legos, a yoga class, a dinner party with friends.  I felt elated, in love, and surrounded by love.

Then the last couple days have been really tough and backwards.  I lost my temper two days in a row and flipped out on Kaio; yesterday because he poured soup in the salt grinder, and today because he spit out the food I cooked him on to the chair and floor.  I try so hard to stay cool and calm in the face of defiance and whinyness.  But I guess my patience erodes and unexpectedly I find myself erupting with frustration.  I think I act like Homer Simpson when he strangles Bart! "Why you little!"

It only happens with Kaio.  Our personalities are so similar that we both fight for control.  Lately I've been trying to recognize when I'm ordering him around, and realize that he has the right to say no, and that I should let him make his own decisions and not force him to do things just because I want him to.  But then when I relinquish control and let him do his thing, I find myself getting mad at him for not helping me or participating in the activity.   Am I ridiculously immature or what?

Like yesterday, we were setting up a little kitchen for Nene.  I tried to get the kids involved with following the instructions, finding the right pieces and screwing them together.  Kaio did one thing and then ran away.  Nene stuck around saying, "my kitchen, my kitchen."  She was stoked and helped as much as possible.   The kids had been playing with the faucet piece while I was assembling and when Nene napped, I asked Kaio if he would find it for me.  He declared "No" and ran off downstairs.

A bit later he came upstairs and asked me to help him reach a movie above the DVD player on the mantel.  I told him I wasn't going to help him since he didn't help me.  I felt mad at him; stubbornly angry.

Tonight the same thing happened.  After he spit out my food and I flipped out and ordered him to bed, I was depressed and holding a grudge.  I didn't want to talk to him or pay any attention to him.  Why should I spend so much energy on him when Nene acts precious and is there sweetly begging for me to play with her?

Putting them to bed, Kaio asked, "Mamae, are you happy?"
"No, Kaio I'm not happy."
Kaio: "Are you very sad?"
Nene: "No, she's mad."
Kaio: "Are you sad?"
Nene: "No, she's mad."
Kaio: "You are sad?"
Nene: "No, she's mad."

My belly held pangs of a rancor.  A black cloud of bitterness, regret, and inadequacy.  The kids need me, but I feel like such a dud of a mother.  With one hand on each of them I sat in the darkness, waiting for their sleep.  Kaio curled up in my lap.  Why can't I keep my cool?  Why can't I let it go?

In researching homeschooling, I've been subscribed to all these great blogs lately; Magic and Mayhem, Small Things, and Teach Mama.  I'm so amazed by how well planned and equipped these mothers are for their day.     I want dearly to be there but often feel like I'm barely treading motherly water.   Maybe I'm not cut out for this, or maybe there is something wrong with me.   I don't know, but yesterday evening while cleaning the messy house, I was daydreaming about being childless.  Daydreaming about my girlfriends with boyfriends who get home from work and curl up on the sofa with a book.  Who spend as much time as they need at the grocery store picking out the right cheeses for fondue.  Who make recipes with lots of steps.  
How far removed I've become from that reality.  

I know that's horrible.  This time these thoughts lingered even as I pushed to repress them with positive ones and hopes of a tantrum free future.  I quickly remembered that this parenting.  And your kids will always find ways to challenge you, no matter who you are, you are not immune.  Life with kids never gets easier, just different.  We get the child we deserve (old Brazilian saying).  And I need to stop dwelling and sulking and just deal with the feelings of love and anger.  Deal with the manic depression of the highs and lows of parenting.  Then when the kids are older, moved out and all we have to talk about is our aging bodies and health problems, we'll reminisce in the nostalgia of the dept to which our kids made us feel. 


  1. Happened upon your Twitter account and clicked your link and read this. Thank you for writing it was such honesty! I hate to admit it but I like hearing that other moms go through and feel the same things that I do from time to time. Butting heads with their "similar" child, being stubborn & loosing your cool, thinking about home schooling, not sure that you can pull it all off... thank you. :-)

  2. Wow thanks! That makes me feel better about publicly discussing taboo topics. Hopefully if my kids read these posts someday, they will understand and maybe it will help them when they are parents....



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