After Friday's affirmations on "being present" and "living in the moment", I set out to truly enjoy the weekend ahead. The results? As expected, they were mixed.
I was patient and attentive with the kids. We did a lot of stuff around the house and in the 'hood. Baked cookies, made waffles, scootered and rode bikes, several park trips, lots of books read and stories told. I cooked a fair bit---in addition to the cookies & waffles, I made bean & cheese soft tacos for Saturday lunch, home-made pizza for Saturday dinner, and Sunday did a lot of our weekly cooking. We didn't have any big outings because G took on a home-improvement project that left me on the own with the boys for the majority---and as I've mentioned before, I can't really handle both boys on my own in the world (even with both of us around, L ran into traffic, shoved his hand in another kid's nose, licked the sidewalk a few times, and put a piece of broken glass in his mouth---and that was just Sunday morning).
It was truly a matter of attitude---instead of viewing all the cooking, grocery shopping, and basic kid-wrangling as horrendous chores to check off the list, I viewed them as integral and valuable aspects of family life. Instead of counting down the hours until bedtime, I savored the time to be with my kids and really notice them---what skills have they picked up, what things delight them naturally, and how can I guide them to grow and learn? Yeah yeah, cheesy, but I'm only on the "good" so bear with me.
On Saturday both boys seemed to have lost their freaking minds (and consequently, contributed greatly towards us losing ours). L barely napped and was clingy and whiny the whole rest of the afternoon (because he was TIRED, duh!). B had frequent meltdowns, with inconsolable crying and screaming over...who knows.
G is not good with dealing with B's meltdowns. His response generally consists of "STOP CRYING RIGHT NOW! There is no reason to cry! Stop it!" and maybe some lectures. Which, yeah...accurate, but not exactly creative parenting.
After about 30 seconds, G enters his own meltdown usually and I am
required to placate both of them. B's first episode was on the way home
from the park, where I popped into the store with L to grab a couple of
things while B & G waited outside with the dog near a little fountain across the street. Apparently B really wanted to come with me, and escaped from G into the street to get to the store.
In fear (and anger), G jerked him back and...the screaming lasted until I
got back, when it turned into robotic broken-record whining "I wanna go
to the stooooore" repeated for 10 more minutes.
more such episodes occurred, the last at bedtime. The boys bathed
happily together and then I took L for stories. G had actually asked me
to let him take L because he wasn't up to dealing with B, but I was also
tired and have done B's (long and boring library books) bedtime stories
EVERY DAY this week so I kind of wanted a break, and didn't know it
would get this bad. B freaked out, screaming, saying he wanted mommy,
and after distraction or reasoning didn't work, G forcefully brushed his
And that leads us to...
B emerged from the bathroom in tears, but calmed down quickly and we finished stories. When I tucked him in, he told me "I was sad because daddy squeezed my hands hard. I didn't like it. Can you tell him not to do it?". Ugh. I honestly didn't want to deal with G so I went upstairs to shower but heard B rattling the door (he can't open the door yet, thank the universe!)---B went in and came out exasperated---"He only wants YOU". I went in and he asked "did you tell daddy yet?". I told him no, but how about YOU tell him? So I called G up and B told him how he didn't like his hands being held tightly or being pulled. Apologies, hugs, bedtime.
Then G and I had a talk. The gist of us was that G doesn't know what to do when B freaks out. He also gets overwhelmed spending ALL DAY with the boys on weekends without outings or plans. His favorite part of the day was working outside on the fence alone.
So I gave him some tips for dealing with meltdowns. Tell stories, break out the i-phone and turn on music or videos, distract him with a task (jump over this plant, find a blue car), or counting (doesn't work when he's REALLY freaking out, but its a tool). Or just let him cry and work it out himself if nothing helps. And I told him he could have more time Sunday to work on the fence or whatever he needed. And then he says "ugh. work work work. Work on the fence, work in the house. And then you had to go and make pizza instead of just ordering it, and I have to clean up the huge mess in the kitchen". And this is where I LOST MY SHIT ya'll.
What does he expect? This is life! We are grown-ups and he chose to get married, buy a house, and have kids. He KNOWS we are trying to save money so we need to do more ourselves. I also thought the kids would like to help make pizza so it'd be an activity! (They ended up not helping at all because G was showing them Sesame Street videos on the laptop at the time and I can't compete with screen time). He wanted to work on the fence, told me he enjoyed it, and then complains about it?
I told him he needed to completely change his attitude. I was working really hard on that myself, and it is helping. And if he needs something to change, he needs to think about and be able to articulate what he needs so that we can discuss it and make it happen. Or if he's that miserable, leave. He can't just be miserable and not work on either a) modifying his thought processes or b) making concrete changes to be happier all the while c) ruining MY happiness.
More was said and discussed and I cried a lot, but eventually he admitted that he isn't always miserable, today was just overwhelming. He liked the tips for dealing with B. He agreed that his attitude has been awful and he is going to work on it.
Sunday was much more uniformly good. G was hemming and hawing about working out in the morning and I basically kicked his ass out the door, which he thanked me for later. He told me in the afternoon that he had a better attitude and everything seemed better overall. Sunday evening, G was starving so I let him have dinner while I got L to bed. L is so sweet with his tiny little voice and his own little language that it brought tears to my eyes. I then went downstairs and the tears came again as I saw G cooking these (we were going with an "Indian Food" theme this week) with B beside him on the stool, rolling out dough like an expert. "Where on earth did he learn that?" I asked. "No idea, what an awesome kid, huh?" G replied.
We're going to be OK. It just takes some work. Like everything else in life worth doing.