Bag Balm on the rug

Today, it started with the paint. Red and black paint, to be specific. It was my fault–I left it on the table. I know better by now, but regardless, I left my acrylic paints, brushes, and painting palettes on the dining room table.

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I didn’t want to sing to him tonight.  I didn’t even want to spend anymore time with him.  It’s been a long day with this challenging toddler, and between fighting to recover from an awful cold and still trying to take care of the normal family meals, kid pickups, and grocery shopping, I’m just completely worn out, and I didn’t even want to spend that special time with him that normally we both love.   That doesn’t happen much.

Today, it started with the paint.  Red and black paint, to be specific.  It was my fault–I left it on the table.  I know better by now, but regardless, I left my acrylic paints, brushes, and painting palettes on the dining room table.  I’d been running herd on the kids since 6:30am, and it was a fairly normal morning until it was almost time to go.  I made that dreaded decision that all moms of toddlers have to make sometimes–I decided to go use the restroom before we left, and I figured that the toddler couldn’t get into TOO much trouble in those 5 minutes, especially since I’d forbidden the older two to watch TV or play on the computer–“What could happen?”  Right.

When I finished in the restroom and went to get the kids out the door, I found the toddler in the dining room…with red paint all over his clothes, on his arms, on the floor, on the table, on one of the chairs, and red and black paint in the palette and on his chosen paint brushes.  Of course, since I was in a hurry, I freaked.  I FREAKED OUT as only a mom confronted with a small child with paint everywhere can.  I put the older two to work cleaning up the floor, table, chair, getting clean clothes for the toddler, while I stripped and scrubbed up the toddler.  We managed to get everyone out the door and the kids BARELY got to school on time, but it was handled.  I needed to reupholster those chairs anyway, right?–the fabric is ugly.

After dropping the older two at school, we took care of the shopping.  It wore me out, but I accomplished it, got home, and put groceries away while letting the toddler play in the (fully-fenced)  backyard.  After I finished, I noticed that he had been awfully quiet, so following my intuition, I checked the front yard, and sure enough, he was happily playing with his tricycle in our driveway.  He has lately been climbing to reach things, and this one was a trellis he climbed on to reach the latch on our 6-foot privacy fence.  Apparently it’s time to start padlocking that gate.

After a bit of a race, a visit with the neighbor whose house he ran to, and a drag home, it was nap time.  He fought it, of course, as has been his custom lately, but I got him tucked in after singing about 10 songs to him and giving him kisses.  At least I thought he was tucked in.  About 30 minutes of quiet time later, I hear the doorknob rattle, so I went to investigate.  I’m not sure that words can truly do justice to the scene that met my eyes, but I will endeavor to try.
I first noticed the doorknob was a bit gummy, but I didn’t think much of this at first.  My attention was all for the toddler standing there with his pants off, in a swim diaper, with his arms, legs, hands, shirt, rug, and carpet covered with what I later identified as Bag Balm–a wonderful moisturizing ointment we use as diaper cream.  The smell of it was everywhere, and he was so greasy I didn’t even know what to do with him.  Try and clean him up with wipes?  No, he was standing there holding out his hands and saying “clean hands…clean hands…” and behind him I could see the wipes container on the floor with wipes pulled out of it and covered in Bag Balm, laying crumpled on the rug.  Obviously we were beyond wipes.  Wipe him off with his shirt?  No, that was beyond redemption–I couldn’t see a clean patch on it.  I was going to have to strip him and drop him in the bathtub.  Once I did that, I saw what he had attempted…there was bag balm all over the inside of the swim diaper he had pulled on, and all over the privates of his that he could reach–he had simply wanted to put bag balm on his bottom.

I never was able to get him completely de-greased, despite my best attempt, but we made it past that, barely.  He fell asleep in my arms on the couch and was still sleeping when we left to pick up his siblings, but when we got home he woke up with a vengeance, full of little-boy piss and vinegar.  His favorite trick lately is climbing up onto the counters in the kitchen, and he has perfected the art of knocking over our baby gates so quickly it’s laughable.  I spent the rest of the time that I wasn’t in the kitchen actively cooking or preparing dinner dragging him off the counter tops and trying to keep him from destroying the rest of the house.  So, over all, it’s been an exhausting day today.

I’m sure he’ll get past this phase–they always do–and sometimes it’s really cute, but some days it’s just exhausting.  Bone-draining, soul-drenching, mind-numbingly exhausting.  He’s such a boy, all motion and excitement, stubbornness and cuddles, and I know he will do great things, but for now, I just want to survive tomorrow.  One day at a time, right?  Mama said there’d be days like this, but she didn’t mention anything about the Bag Balm on the rug.
I did sing to him, but we held it to only four songs.  Mama’s tired.

bag balm james

bag balm

I Cried Three Times Today

I cried three times today.  It wasn’t that terribly unusual.  Nobody ever tells you that you’ll cry more in your first two years as a mother than you probably cried your entire life up to that point.  The tears seem so close some days, that you feel like you’re clutching onto the dry eyes as a lifeline–as if to let those tears flow will will start a torrent that may not stop.  Or maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I’m the only mom who ever feels that way.  I doubt it, but since we mothers don’t talk about how HARD simply holding onto our sanity is some days, maybe it is just me.  I’ve been a mom for nearly 11 years, and I’m convinced I’ve cried my very own lake by now.

It’s different every day, yet somehow it’s all the same.  It’s the constant demands on my attentions, the never-ending messes that need to be cleaned up, the fights that never seem to end unless I step in the middle, and the complete absolute lack of peace unless both older kids are gone and the youngest is sleeping.  It’s the constant nagging feeling that it shouldn’t be this hard, and that I must be doing something very wrong, yet the contradictory knowledge that I’m not alone in this feeling and that most parents feel this way.  Someone asked me how it was going, and I responded that I was hanging on by my fingernails which I’ve bitten off completely.

Today it was the corn tortilla stuffed down the bathroom sink drain, the concentrated juice spilled and tracked all over the kitchen floor and into my bathroom, the chips dumped on the floor about three feet away from me–before I even figured out what he was doing–the cable receiver box that was reset yet again, the screaming, and the absolute stubborn refusal to nap despite how exhausted he clearly was.  I often post about my toddler terrorist incidents, and today someone commented “You must have the patience and fortitude of a saint.”  I don’t.  I really don’t.  On a near-daily basis I flirt with thoughts of running away, I try to hide in my room, and I cling to my sanity like a drowning woman clinging to the last bit of flotsam she can see.

Daily I feel love, pride, astonishment, horror, disgust, anger, irritation, sadness, fear, hope, and peace.  In the Fifth Harry Potter book, Ron Weasley responded to a description of one girls feelings by saying “One person can’t feel all that at once–they’d explode.”  I understand why he would think that way–sometimes I do feel like I’m going to explode.  I have problems understanding how I can honestly love these kids SO much, yet be so mad at them that I think the top of my head will blow off.  It’s really confusing that I am so happy to talk to them and hear their voices, yet I can get to the point where I’d give nearly anything for them to just be quiet.  I think the contradictions are what really push me to the edge–if it were just one way or the other, I’d be able to figure out how to deal with it, but all the double-edged swords just push me to the very brink of what I think I can handle.

But oddly enough, I do handle it.  So do other parents–we just handle it, we do our best and keep going.  We keep fighting every day simply to raise these kids of ours, hoping that we’re not causing more problems than a hug can make better.  We love them, we do our best by them, even when that best isn’t what they want, and we don’t give up on them even when that awful voice whispers in our heads that life would be so much simpler without them.  I know–I’m mentioning things that we’re not supposed to talk about…We’re not supposed to want to give up, or wonder what our lives would be like without them.  We’re not supposed to mention that sometimes we think about just getting in the car and driving away from all the chaos.  We’re not supposed to say that we cry just because we can’t get them to stop crying, or that punishing them can sometimes hurt us even though we know it’s what’s best for them.

I want to say it all anyway.

Parenting is hard.  Kids can build us up and destroy us in a single day.  They can take us from laughter to tears, from joy to terror, and from peace to insanity.  It can go the other way, too, however–tears to laughter, terror to joy, insanity to peace, and from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the world.  People say parenting is rewarding, and it is, but like any reward worth having, it takes a LOT of hard work to achieve it.  I’m up for the challenge most days–after all, I’m still here, still trying, and still loving these children more than my heart feels like it has the capacity for.  But some days I feel like it’s going to break me.  Some days are just “those” kind of days, where every single hour is a struggle to get through, and you just can’t wait for bedtime when you can find some peace again.  Some days are the kind of days where the toddler just won’t listen, and the kids won’t stop fighting, and the messes don’t stop coming.  Some days all you can do is cry.  Mama said there’ll be days like this….