Before I was a mom, I was ignorant. Ignorant as to how hard it is be a mom. What the job description of mom all entails. I used to think that days spent taking the kids to the park and watching cartoons sounded like a breeze compared to working a full time job. Now though I have learned that a lot goes into those trips to the park and afternoons watching cartoons.
In order to pack two kids up to go to the park I must pack a bag full of snacks, juice boxes, diapers, wipes and changes of clothes. And wrestling shoes on a toddler's fat feet are no joke. And the reason that the kids are spending afternoon of cartoons is either because the mom needed a break from the constant whining, fighting, crabby kids or because she has to rewash the floor. For the 3rd time that day because her children decided that their lunch looked better on the floor than in their stomachs
I can still remember walking the aisles at target and watching a mom ignoring her screaming toddler. On and on he went, getting louder and louder by the minute. She walked on, browsing the aisles ignoring her screaming kid and the stares and comments from other by passers. I remember feeling really bad for the kid and annoyed at the mother for ignoring him. Clearly he was upset. Why wasn't she doing anything
Well, now I know why. It's probably the same reason I ignore Ethan when he does it. Because I have a fussy child who gets upset over the slightest things and literally spends 1 minute out of every 5 screaming about something. At first I used to respond to every little peep out of his mouth. He's my baby after all and Gianna was never like this so he must be upset and need me right? Wrong. I've created a monster
He cries when Gianna talks to him, when a toy doesn't work the way he wants it to, when he wants his bottle but is too lazy to bend down and pick it up, when his blanket is in his crib, etc etc. It is exhausting. In one not so nice mommy moment I may have told him to grow a pair of balls. I should probably delete the above statement but I am keeping it real here.
Where Gianna is stubborn, independent and strong willed, Ethan is fussy, whiny, needy and clingy. Don't get me wrong he is the sweetest thing when he's not screaming and I love him to pieces. But don't wake the monster. It's all over when you do
The other day he screamed for 5 hours straight. 5 hours. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Poor Gianna was left to fend for herself while I tried to deal with Ethan. I held him, rocked him, sang to him, gave him a bath, tried to lay him down for a nap. Nothing worked. On and on he screamed and in that moment I wished for those blissful days of having only one kid. The days when I could love on, play with, discipline, structure and teach one child and one child only. It's impossible to give Gianna the attention and things she needs when I spend so many seconds tending to her whiny brother.
And the comments and looks I get in public are really starting to irritate me. We will be out and about, whether it's the store or a friends house and Ethan will get upset. Now i have learned to assess the situation because depending on what's the matter my attention only makes things worse. So I figure out if he's wet, poopy, hungry or hurt and if it's one of those I deal with it. If it's not I ignore it. In a few months he will be starting preschool and I will be going back to work. He has to learn to self regulate. At least a little bit.
And I laugh when people tell me how to handle it or command me to deal with my child. No one else want's to hear it they say. He's really upset they say. Aren't you going to do anything they ask? It takes all my energy and effort to not snap back at them. Instead I ignore it and keep on.
As his mom I know that this is a phase and while it's not pretty for other's to witness it's my whole life right now. I deal with his whining and crying every second. I don't have the time, energy or mental capacity to respond to it every second! So I pick my battles. And if it means that he has to fuss for awhile before he tires himself out so be it.
Now If only I could go back in time and tell my pre-baby self to not be so judge-mental. Or to go back to when I only had one child and think that parenting and motherhood was the easiest thing in the world. Until you have two you have no idea. Especially with two so close in age. It is impossible to fully give yourself to both children. Especially when they both want or need something at the same time. It's a balance, a game of picking your battles and praying for grace. Mostly for yourself so that you can be the parent you need to be for your children.
And for those with kiddo's close in age any tips or advice on finding a balance between your kids?