I came across this draft, which I wrote about four months ago, or one month into being home full time. I was pretty stressed. Even though it’s a little dated, I wanted to share my story about our challenges in case there are any moms or dads out there currently in the same boat.
Here’s a look back at life in September 2016…
I recently opened up about how deciding to be a stay at home mom was a really tough decision. Now that I’m a month in to my new job at home, I’m able to report that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. It’s probably been the most stressful month of my life. I knew it would be hard, but I wasn’t anticipating the type of frustrations I’ve been facing.
I feel a little bad as I type that my sweet 2.5-year-old Luke, who I love and adore with all my heart, is the source of my frustrations. I have thought twice about sharing this because of how he’d feel reading this, but this is life right now and it will be good for him to understand the type of shenanigans he was into as a tot.
Plus, we need to be honest about mom life! Everyone shares the good parts of life, leaving some of us feeling like we’re doing something wrong if we’re struggling.
To illustrate our daily conflicts, here’s a rundown of our current situation…
At 7:30 Luke wakes up, often in a disgruntled mood because he didn’t sleep well. He enters our room with a huff, slamming the door open and collapsing onto our floor. I go to him, ask if he’d like some breakfast, and I’m met with a groan. I let him be and get the coffee brewing.
He’s calmed by watching an episode of Mickey and is ready for breakfast. He has a dirty diaper but refuses to let me change it. I ask him if he’d like cereal or eggs (taking advice from countless parenting books on “empowering your toddler by offering choices”). If it’s a really rough day his response will be “mower.” Yes, I typed that right. When he doesn’t want to answer, which is probably half the time I ask him something, he tells me “mower.”
We eventually change the diaper and he gets up in his chair and I put food in front of him. Fortunately he’s been pretty good lately about getting into his chair and eating. I’ll say “Luke, food’s ready, come get in your chair,” and he’ll come over and say “Luke is listening!” while climbing into his seat.
After breakfast I’ll suggest an activity, but usually Luke has his mind set on something and resists anything else. Lately it has been relocating dada’s old golf clubs from one room to another, lining them up on the ground, and asking me to hit a ball with each of them, one by one. I oblige.
After a snack, more putzing around the house, and lunch, the mood in the house shifts as if a dark cloud is approaching. It’s nap time. Half the time, no one ends up sleeping, and everyone sheds some tears.
On days when I know he’s tired, naps are non-negotiable. I lure him into his room with a toy and let him continue playing with it for a few minutes before it’s time to start our nap time routine (diaper, books, light off). When it’s time to put the toy away, we enter tantrum town. All out flailing, kicking, screaming ensues. I let him know after his nap we’ll keep playing with it. Eventually he simmers down.
Taking advice from “Raising Your Spirited Child,” I will lay down with Luke and offer to stay with him until he’s asleep. However many days I cannot even get him to lay down. Now we enter the phase of “lay down or mama’s leaving.” He typically doesn’t lay down, so I leave the room and lock the door (I know this sounds bad, but I know he is safe in there because I watch him on the monitor!). He kicks and screams. I go back a couple minutes later and ask if he’s ready to lay down. If so, I lay with him. If not, I leave again. We can go through several rounds of this.
Eventually he lays down. But he’s still not settled. He’ll lay one way, then get up and lay somewhere else. We have a crib with the side down, a mattress on the floor and a blanket on the floor. He rotates around each of them probably 15 times.
By this point, it’s been an hour since we started “nap time” and Eli is on the verge of waking up. Oh, did I forget to mention there’s another child I’m caring for during all this!? If he wakes up, Luke’s nap just won’t happen. Fortunately Eli is an amazing sleeper so I can often count on him to continue resting peacefully while I work with Luke.
Luke may fall asleep, he may not. I can’t make the kid sleep and I can’t spend my entire day coaxing him into laying down. When he doesn’t go to sleep, I get really frustrated. I know he needs the sleep and that the next 6 hours until bedtime are going to be difficult if he doesn’t rest.
After, or in place of, his nap I’ll turn on Mickey and try to get some things done around the house. He’ll usually sit quietly for a few minutes, fortunately. But then it’s back on the horse!
Again I’ll suggest some activities – swimming, going for a walk, playing basketball – but again, he’s on a mission. This time maybe it’s with his mower – running around the house, chasing our dog Cooper (who does not like to be chased), running into things. I’ll say “Luke Cooper does not like being chased, you’re scaring him,” and he’ll say “No! He likes it!”
Eventually it’s time for dinner and I have about 10 minutes to pull something together. If the food prep takes too long, Eli may end up getting bitten or all his toys may be stolen while my attention is diverted.
After dinner I bathe Eli in the sink while Luke plays an then it’s Luke’s turn. I ask if he wants to bathe in his bath or mama’s bath, and his response? You guessed it! “Mower!”
I say “OK let’s bring the mower into mama’s bathroom,” and we enter tantrum town once again. I carry him to the bathroom kicking and screaming, undress him, and before I know it he has run out of the bathroom like a wild banshee on the loose.
I grab ahold of him again, plunk him in the tub and he’s happy. I get him clean, tell him it’s time to dry off, and what do you think he says? “No!! No drying off!” He wants to stay in the tub. erggggg. Eventually he gets out and we enter bedtime territory.
Each aspect of our bedtime routine, which entails putting on a diaper and pajamas, and going to bed, is met with resistance. Eventually, we accomplish each step and I sit patiently with him and wait for him to drift off to a peaceful slumber. I can always tell it’s safe to leave his room when I hear a little moan and his feet start to twitch. I am so happy he’s asleep and take a moment to admire his sweet little face.
After a couple overnight wake-ups from Eli, and possibly even a bedside encounter with Luke, it’s time to do it all again. No breaks. No paid time off.
Do I regret my decision to stay home? Not one bit. I know that even though these days are hard, I am making unforgettable memories and helping shape my boys to be the best they can be. We have a lot of fun together and I’m still ever so grateful for the chance to be home with them. I’m just being real here!
So back to today, as I read through what we were going through four months ago I chuckle to myself as I’m reminded of fleeting moments in time that I’ve already forgotten about. We’re undoubtedly in a better place today, yet full of new tussles.
Today’s struggle will give you tomorrow’s laugh. Sometimes these phases go by too fast, and sometimes they don’t go by fast enough. But they will end and our babies will grow. That’s why I think capturing the “bad” maybe isn’t so bad after all!