This morning I ate my breakfast while locked in the bathroom because Ruthie would not stop bugging me about giving her a bite of my eggs. I kept asking her in a calm way to please back away (she was literally in my face, hovering over my plate, with her fork touching my food), that mommy needed to eat, that she had just finished her second breakfast, blah blah blah. She was not listening to me, but instead kept insisting, “BUT YOU HAVE TO SHARE, MAMA!”
This is an aspect of parenting in which I have not yet formed a thesis – do I share to set an example of sharing? or do I eat my own meal because it is in the best interest of my blood sugar level, which in turn makes me a mommy who won’t tear your eyeballs out? For this reason I was hesitant to put her in a time out, though in retrospect I probably should have because she was not listening to me when I asked her to stop. So in that moment, as I felt my adrenaline building toward rage, I excused myself, told her that mommy needed a time out, and locked myself in the bathroom to finish eating. At which point she screamed, began to cry for her daddy, and went downstairs to bang on his office door.
Great, I thought. I’ve denied her basic sustenance, hurt her feelings, AND dragged Bryan into the drama. Way to go, jen.
My day has not gone much better since, at least in respect to the tense feeling in my chest and the Twisted Spine of Stress.
This is a battle that is fought with Ruthie on a daily basis – mostly at breakfast. She rises at the crack of dawn, at which point she has one or two bowls of cereal. Then when Thomas wakes up and has breakfast, she has something else to eat, and I try to make it something more substantial than cereal. While the kids are sitting at the table eating, I make breakfast for myself and for Bryan, which usually involves eggs, because one can never have too many eggs in my opinion. By the time I sit down to eat said eggs, Ruthie is in my face asking for a bite, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER I HAD JUST GIVEN HER EGGS OF HER OWN TO EAT. There is something about MY FOOD that she insists upon wanting, and I’m coming to the conclusion that it may not have anything to do with food, but with control, because by the time she gets to my breakfast, she’s already eaten more than she will eat for the rest of the day.
Part of it is that I think she is interested in the shared experience of things. For instance, she won’t play with any of her toys by herself, but if Thomas or any of her friends is around, and THEY want to play with toys, then she is happy to play along. And this goes for anything else like play-doh and coloring. There is nothing that I have discovered in the last four years that she will do alone – even the amazing Polly Pockets have lost their dazzle and are no fun unless I’m sitting on the floor with her.
Why is this a problem?
Because my brain literally hurts from being turned on all the time. Just now, as we snuggled in bed before her nap, I had to place a lavender eye pack over my eyes because it was too painful for me to try and keep my eye lids closed independently. Ruthie is at an age where everything is a question, a conversation, and no subject is dropped until Veronica Mars learns the truth.
‘Why is that man standing there?’
‘I think he’s waiting for the bus.’
‘Where is he going?’
‘I don’t know, honey.’
‘I really don’t know, honey. Maybe he’s going to work.’
‘NO! TELL ME!’
I can’t even make up an answer because she knows when I’m bullshitting her.
But I digress. This is not a post complaining about my lovely daughter, because she really IS lovely, and I know all these things I’ve just complained about I will probably adore about her tomorrow. The post is more about me, and what to do with myself when I am feeling so sucked of energy and brain cells that I threaten my children with dismemberment if they will not go play in the damn Ikea ball pit so I can get one hour of peace to myself.
The last time I felt this stressed and trapped and like I never had a moment was a week in which I was not able to spend my Tuesday afternoon writing because the sitter didn’t come. And yesterday? The sitter was sick so I was not able to spend my afternoon writing again.
Herein lies the common thread – the expectation of three hours alone every Tuesday not being met.
That, my friends, was an epiphany. I just discovered this by bitching on the internet.
Please disregard this post as I figure out a new way to deal with failed expectations.