Monday, August 12, 2013

The good, the bad, the ugly...the long version

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.

The Good
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.

The Bad
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.

Two 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 teeth.

And that leads us to...

The Ugly

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.

More Good
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.


  1. Ah yes, the highs and lows of weekends with little kids. Every day has ups and downs. Often every hour does! Each parent getting to sleep in one morning can be helpful. Activities are good. Each person getting time for their own stuff (projects, exercise) is also helpful. And if things are really stressful we'll get a sitter for a few hours. That doesn't help on the saving money front, but it's probably cheaper than divorce... :)

  2. Oh. My. God. I feel you one million percent on the attitude issue. My partner is just like that and it drives me INSANE. Why can be not suck it up? These were his choices too! Recently I told him that I couldn't be happy if he always had this attitude and even spoke to him about postponing our wedding. I think that helped shake him out of it for a minute. But he's had it REALLY easy this summer and things are going to get pretty bad when I go back to work next week. Ugh. I'm already dreading it.

    I really liked your exercise about seeing the good things. I want to try that this week as I am home alone with Isa. I could use the attitude adjustment.

  3. Oh boy - weekends can be so amazing and so overwhelming at the same time, can't they? I find myself really looking forward to them, but by Sunday afternoon I am DONE. Just this past month Evan's tantrums have become epic, and though I think we're pretty good at dealing with them, it is just so hard sometimes to not get frustrated/yell/run away. I can't imagine what it's going to be like once the second is here!

  4. My husband and I found The Happiest Toddler on the Block really helpful for dealing with the screaming and meltdowns. It seemed to really resonate with my husband, which I am grateful for. You might also consider couples counseling. It helps.

  5. I just clicked over here, since you commented on my blog last week (and before, too, I think). I totally hear you on all of this! So much of it is stuff I could've written! It's starting to really click for me that I need to take care of myself so i don't get so frazzled by my husband and kids. Not sure how to do that, but at least maybe I'll stop feeling guilty about it. We'll see. Good luck to you too. I will keep reading to see how it all goes.

  6. Oh, hun, I am sorry you need to point the obvious out to your husband... But at least he sees it, and is willing to work and change, which is loads more than some people are willing to do. I hope you get over these hurdles and get to be a team again, for real, and what now requires effort, I hope in the near future becomes second nature and is efortless and you do not have to worry about that ever again.
    This is a very good exercise, seeing all sides of your life as they are. People are often blinded by one or the other, and balance is lost. Being realistic helps bring back balance in life, no? It should.

  7. Argg. My very thoughtful comment just got deleted. Not sure I can recreate the brilliance, but I think the gist was that this all resonates. The good was so lovely, but the bad and the ugly really hit me in the gut. I am your husband sometimes, unable to keep my S together, even though I know all the good strategies...having to remind myself that I chose this life, and that it's wonderful. I hope you guys can make some time for yourselves, and that your husband makes some lasting changes.