After a really fun family seder, I was beaming with pride as I cleaned up some puzzles on the floor. My firstborn was running the house naked waiting for the baby to be done in the bath. A split second later, I look up and he is peeing all over me. All over the carpet, the puzzles, my pants. FOUR CUPS OF GRAPE JUICE WORTH OF WIZ! He was laughing and wiggling around, a hose of urine streaming back and forth. At first I sat there completely stunned and then I started shouting for him to stop peeing on me and begging, “Why are you doing this? WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?”
This past week I’ve had my hair pulled, been slapped in the head, and to top it off the morning after the pee incident, he spit in my face. We’re one month in and year 3 is giving me a run for my money.
I’ve been hard wired to snap, yell, and curse, and I spend countless hours reading gentle parenting books in an effort to unparent myself. I can only hope that after enough reading and practice it will come naturally. I know it is all age appropriate behavior, most of which is him testing limits and looking for a reaction but I can’t hold him through every single tantrum and tell him I love him. It wasn’t possible for me to squelch the fury of being urinated on regardless of the fact that he has no context for how disrespectful or unacceptable it is. My husband put him to bed and I held a grudge for a while before going in to reinforce how much I love him and apologize for my scary reaction.
Every time something challenging like this happens I think to myself, “He wouldn’t dream of doing this to his daddy. Just once I want him to spit at Daddy or run up and bash him in the knee with a book.” I wish it because I know it would never happen. I am his safe person, the person who he cries for when he is hurt, sick, sad, or tired. My arms are his safe haven and with that privilege comes the burden of being the one whose love is tested time and time again by someone who has only been on the planet for three years and needs to push limits to discover how it all works. My husband jokes that if he comes home from work and all three of us are alive, I did a great job that day. I’m beginning to subscribe to his incredibly low standards.
If I vent, people like to tell me this is why he should be in preschool/daycare. Or acquiesce that they could never do what I do in staying home full time with two kids. There is a very complicated algorithm of reasons why I stay at home with my children and “because I want to” is very close to the top of that list. But it isn’t always easy.
So ultimately, I’m at a loss for what to do. I eat my feelings, breathe deep, and take comfort in the fact that each day starts anew. I’ve decided to write him a letter that will join three years of heartfelt musings which describe his milestones and my infatuation with his stinky toes, signed with mushy confessions of my endless love for him. Because he needs to know this part too. He needs to know that despite him grating my last nerve to a bloody pulp, I had the emotional wherewithal not to give him away on Craigslist. A letter that says: you are a being a dick right now but I still love you more than all the stars in the sky.
My preschooler has been having problems at the dinner table lately. Now sitting in a regular chair at the table, he is up and down, won’t eat, puts his fingers in my ears while I’m eating, and is constantly turning around in his seat. Each night I mentally page through the day looking for missed opportunities and then I pray for the patience to do better tomorrow. Recently during prayer the meal-time misbehavior came to mind and in a hazy sleep-prayer moment I saw him sitting in a different seat at the table. And then it hit me that he was turning around because my husband and I were sitting across from each other and he was left out of the conversation. The next day, I switched seating positions with him and the problems have all but stopped entirely.
I’m not one to say that God speaks directly to me in prayer, but this situation was remarkable. Maybe it was because I was being mindful enough to troubleshoot our day, or maybe it was God throwing me a bone after an extra shitty week. Honestly, I don’t care how or why, it was just nice to feel like there is somewhere I can turn for answers that won’t make me feel like a martyr or tell me to send him to preschool.
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