Itâ€™s completely kicking my butt, this parenting thing. Right now, I feel like a crappy mom. I wonder how on earth I could ever, really, be the parent to two kids when this one is driving me bananas. Heâ€™s three, and that has made everything more complicated. And tonight bedtime was a crappy overblown push-pull of him wanting more of me, and me wanting to give less. One of those nights where Iâ€™m beyond tired and the laundry is everywhere (in the drier, in the washing machine, on the chair in the bedroom in heaps, in the hallway in heaps) and my last nerve has already been used up. And then he starts.
â€œI need milk, mommy!â€ he starts to whine. Weâ€™ve already done stories and weâ€™re past the step where warm milk was an option, but itâ€™s only been recently that heâ€™s been forgoing it at bedtime, and really, I should have offered it to him at the appropriate time. And I didnâ€™t. So here we are.
Iâ€™m lying on his bed with him watching how the shadows make the yellow of his walls almost gray. The light out the window is dusk. The last of the robins are singing from the tops of the trees, but the sun has already sunk below the horizon and the sky is the pale afterthought pink of post-sunset. I want to cry.
Iâ€™m not sure why I want to cry except I feel like Iâ€™ve been giving everything all day long to other peopleâ€™s kids and now here I am with my own, the kid I love more than anything, and I donâ€™t have an ounce of wiggle room left to give him.
â€œFine,â€ I say. â€œBut if I get you milk then I am not going to lie here and snuggle with you. You can have the milk but then itâ€™s a hug and a kiss and weâ€™re done tonight. Got it.â€
â€œNoo!â€ He whimpers indignantly. His lower lip is protruding and he sounds particularly pathetic because heâ€™s just getting over a cold. This makes matters worse. The fact that I know heâ€™s been sick. That his behavior has always been worse when heâ€™s sick: more erratic with bouts of energy and lulls.
But damn, I just want to be sitting on the couch with the cat wedged up against me, without anyone needing anything for eight point five seconds. That would be really great.
But somehow there is never enough time, at the end of the day. I crave energy and time and have neither by 8 p.m. So I go downstairs and get milk and bring it up to him and heâ€™s already bawling.
â€œI want snuggles Mommy, I just want you to snuggle with me.â€
I hand him the milk. I sit in the rocking chair near his bed. In my head I can see myself and I can see that I'm being stubborn and unreasonable and in general totally suck as a mom. I even think to myself why the hell canâ€™t you just go cuddle with him, whatâ€™s the big deal? But the big deal is that since heâ€™s turned three he has started to make bedtime into something momentous again, every night more negotiations, more extra steps and little details as he tries to control more and more of his world. And I picked tonight of all effing nights to curtail this trend.
What was I thinking?
So now heâ€™s balling into his milk and snuffeling and needs a tissue. â€œI just love you Mommy. I love you Mommy. I love you Mommy. Are you happy Mommy?â€
Damn it. Is parenting this hard for anyone else?
We somehow muddled through. I explained that I wasnâ€™t happy with his behavior but that I loved him and loved him some more. And now heâ€™s tucked into his beanbag â€˜nestâ€™ in our room where he has very contentedly slept for the past few weeks. And the cat is by my shoulder, and outside the trees look like the outlines of giants huddled together having tea, and the house is quiet.
But I hate not having patience. I hate feeling like Iâ€™m totally not cut out for this. ARGH.