Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Parent Trap

It was a week ago that a blogger I 'know' in the social media sense wrote this piece about motherhood, which I re-posted to one of my support groups on Facebook. In addition to the truths she shared, it was great to see how this piece resonated with some of the women in the group. I also ended up discussing the piece with another mother later that week, which made two immediate impressions on me: (a) I am overwhelmed by one child, so I can only imagine having to deal with three; and (b) high five for writing something that really spoke to some of the challenges of parenthood.

This week, another mother I 'know' posted a different piece from the perspective of a toddler...

Sure, being a toddler in an adult world can be challenging, but after a week when I have had to carry my child kicking and screaming from public spaces three times (twice in one day after I started to write this piece)...nah, I can't relate to the difficulties of being a toddler.

No, I can't relate when the reasons for these spirited outbursts are mysterious and random. As in, why are you rolling around on the floor in the middle of the church lobby? Why are you refusing to let go of the shopping cart now that we are finished in this store? Why are you throwing clothes that I haven't paid for yet on the floor? Why did you refuse to go into the store, then demand to go into the store, and then have to be carried out of the store? What makes you so cranky after sleeping for ten hours straight? Why do you get to wake up in a bad mood and then refuse to put on underwear two days in a row?

Why the phuck is my life being dictated by the mood swings of this irrational little person that I brought into the world??? Seriously, I gave birth after 40 so what else does the world expect from me? My theory--I am supposed to spend the next fifteen years engaged in peace negotiations with a terrorist, which is essentially setting me up for failure.

When I started on this piece in my head on Sunday after a particularly tumultuous episode (one that apparently left her exhausted), I intended to lament my poor performance in diffusing the after-church tantrum. It occurred on the walk from the bathroom to the fellowship hall, because I had the temerity to need to pee after service. Maybe next time I should wear adult diapers...God forbid she doesn't get a cookie or a dry piece of cake with a cup of church punch. And as she commenced to rolling around on the floor in agony outside of the fellowship hall, everyone who passed by just shook their heads and offered that same look of parental resignation.

I've been told that this is just a phase that passes. And I believe that because I stopped acting like an asshole years ago and my mother went on to have two more children. Then I turned 12.

Which is why I believe it was the spirit of my mother who smacked me in the back of my head (like she did often when I was a kid) in an effort to snap me out of the illusion that I am the bad actor here. I may not be Jo Frost the British Supernanny, but I am definitely not the henpecked Daddy who can't say no to his Veruca Salt.

I love this child. I hate the toddler phase. I expect that if we make it to adolescence, I will hate that phase as well. So maybe that is the trap--our fierce love helps us to forget the truly terrible nonsense they can unleash without warning. Literally moments after her abusive tantrum, she apologizes then assures me that everything will be ok if I just breathe...

Really now?

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