Tuesday, January 16, 2007

So much for Mother of the Year 2007

I used to think I was a pretty good parent. This was big stuff for me; I’d agonized for years over having children because I thought I’d be a complete fuckup. But then I had JJ and fell head over heels in love with him, and I realized that this was it: the most important and best job I’d ever have.

And we were so in sync, he and I. We were like perfectly matched dance partners from the very beginning. We nursed for 19 months, and it was wonderful. Then one day I thought to myself, “I’m done with this now,” and that evening he dropped his bedtime feeding. We were done in less than a month, and it was this beautiful, mutually respectful process.

That’s just one example of how easy my relationship has been with JJ. (Minus the horrendous potty training debacle of November 2006, but let’s never speak of that again.) I always told other parents that being JJ’s mother was a piece of cake because he was this easygoing, mellow, compliant child, but that was a total lie. What I really thought was I was this fantastic, understanding, patient, compassionate, mature mother with a heart of gold.

The Terrible Twos passed with hardly a tantrum. The Traumatic Threes? I barely broke a sweat. But Four? Four is kicking my ass. Four is serving me a huge slice of humble pie with ice cream on top. Yeah, laugh it up friends—I deserve it—but Four may be the death of me.

Why didn’t anyone warn me about Four? The mouthiness, the eye rolling, the know-it-all attitude. It’s like a warm-up to Thirteen, but I am not ready for Thirteen. How is it possible that this angelic child is suddenly pushing all my buttons with such alacrity? “How do birds poop, Mama?” “Pretty much like we do, but they have an opening called a cloaca instead of an anus.” (Eyeroll) ”I knew that already.”

I am so stunned by this kind of behavior, I don’t even know how to respond. I try to be patient and respectful, and then he comes out with this crap and I explode in a white rage. I’m turning into a yeller. I know it could be worse—I could be turning into a hitter—but I don’t want to be a yeller.

This morning I yelled at him for rolling his eyes and saying “Blah blah blah” at me. And then he cried and said, “I’m sorry, Mama,” and threw himself into my arms. And I thought to myself, I need someone to fire me now. Here is this little boy trying so desperately to grow up and become his own person, and he’s so vulnerable and tough and irritating and lovable, and then I just stomp his fragile psyche to a powder.

It’s hopeless, isn’t it? I guess I’ll just toss another twenty bucks in the therapy fund and pour myself a big glass of wine.


happygal said...

Oh, man! Tell me about it! Four SUCKS.

Over here we're dishing up Boldfaced Lies with a side of Rudeness and a dollup of Disrespect.

Poppy said...

Oh yes, I'm right there with you. 2 was a piece of cake with X. But 4 is really something--kicking my ass around the block is what I say. If you're fired, then so am I.

Stephanie said...

at least he didn't say "yada, yada, yada," right?

i'm hoping that four will be the golden era around here, because so far 2 and 3 have been somewhat excrutiating.

Alisyn said...

yeah, four. i'm right there with you. over here we're getting the eyeroll along with "WHATever" and "you can't tell me what to do!" also: door slamming. what did she do - take a time machine back to 1988 and watch me? jesus.

karen_s said...

maybe you're stomping on his psyche, maybe you're showing him the precise location of the limits hewants to find so badly. either way, thanks for the blog, man: i am learning a lot from you and stashing it all in my memory for 2 years from now.