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A Dollar for the Therapy Fund (Or: caramama Gets Mad and Says Things She Shouldn't) (Or: The Rest of My Weekend Alone with the Kids)

As I explained previously, I spent the weekend with the two kids while Londo was off doing fun stuff with the guys involving football, cards and a pool table.

We had a really fantastic day on Saturday. In addition to all the fun we had that I already wrote about, we went over to my parent's house to play there. The Pookie took a nap in the crib upstairs! By himself! Lying down in the crib! (This almost never happened with the Pumpkin.) The Pumpkin played with the toys there and outside on the deck, while we adults had a glass of wine and enjoyed the nice weather. While we were there, my sister's labor started and my dad brought my neice back to their house. My daughter and neice are only one year apart, and they love to play together, so that was fun.

We even had a very nice dinner there. The Pumpkin and her cousin sat at the table very loudly singing "Yum. Yum. Yuuuuuum!" which my dad got on video. Although once it turns about 6:00, I feel more and more anxious about the timing of dinner and bedtimes and the impeding meltdowns for both kids that I know are coming. This is especially true when we aren't in our own house, as I have limited control over the dinner timing and have the added task of getting us all out the door. But we got it all taken care of and made it home just fine.

It was bedtime when everything went to hell.

You see, both kids need the same thing from me (or me and Londo) at the same time at night. They need to be with me, in a dark, quiet room. Alone. As in alone with just me or just Londo. When there is only one adult and two children, it is not always possible to meet this need.

When Londo was away in the evenings working a few weeks ago, I had my mom or dad come over to help. They would watch the Pumpkin while I put the Pookie to bed. Then I would get the Pumpkin ready for bed and lie down with her. Because I was putting the Pookie to bed a little early, he kept waking up an hour after I put him down, at which time my mom or dad would hold him until I could slip out of the Pumpkin's room after she fell asleep.

It worked fine except for one night when my girl was taking a while to fall asleep and the baby would not be comforted by my mom. After a while, I simply had to get the baby. His cries were pulling on my Mommy Strings, and I could not fight the instinct to go get him. The Pumpkin didn't want me to leave and cried and held on to me, but I kept explaining that her brother needed me too. Did she hear him crying? He was crying because he needed me. When she cries because she needs me, I go to her. I need to do the same for him. And I'd be right back. I'd bring him with me.

I was and I did. I lied down in bed with the baby lying on my stomach nursing (I didn't know how people did this until I simply had to do it) and my little girl lying on my other arm. The baby fell asleep, and I was able to give him back to my mom and finish lying with the Pumpkin until she fell asleep. I left the room the second time by telling her I was going to put the Pookie in his swing, which is where he usually naps so she is used to me saying that and leaving her for a minute.

Since I handled that okay, I thought I would probably be fine on my own Saturday night. I put the Pookie in his swing, which I knew would give me 1 hour until he woke up and I'd have to get him. I had hoped that the Pumpkin would take under an hour to go to sleep, especially since she hadn't napped for me that day.

She took longer. And she had an absolute meltdown when I went to get the baby and when I brought him back in the room. She did NOT want him there! Or me elsewhere. I told her she had to stop yelling because that was making the baby cry more. I told her that I couldn't put him down until he was calm, and he couldn't calm down when she was upset. I never tell her to stop crying when she's upset, so I know I was asking something new. And she didn't want to do it.

So I left the room with the baby, leaving her in her room alone. I told her I would, but she wouldn't quiet down. After a few moments, she opened her door and looked into my room. She saw me sitting with the baby in the chair in my room, and came in. She was quiet, so I didn't stop her. But then she started up again. Being in my bed didn't calm her. Sitting with me and the baby wasn't making her happy. Nothing was. So I tried getting her back in her room. She hit my leg in her frustration. I snapped loudly that that was unacceptable! There would be no hitting! And I ordered her into her room in not the nicest manner (I think I said, "You go to your room RIGHT NOW! GO! GO! GO!").

I went with her into her room. She was upset about my yelling at her, so I talked to her calmly and she calmed down a bit. But the baby was still with me as I was trying to settle her. She started flipping out again. I was sitting up trying to get her to work with me to "find a solution." And then... She hit me. Again. On my side right next to the baby's leg. Just after I had told her no hitting.

The beast came out of me and I screamed at her, "UNACCEPTABLE!"

Please know that this isn't the first or ideal way I deal with her hitting. Over the last month or so, she has developed this new behavoir of her slapping at someone or something when she is so overwhelmingly frustrated she doesn't know how to deal with it. It doesn't happen often. I usually am firm, but calm. I tell her that there is no hitting and if she's frustated she can stomp her foot or tell me how mad she is.

But this time, I was so tired and getting so frustrated myself, and her hand was so very close to the baby. I screamed "unacceptable" and kept yelling for a few seconds--about how hitting was absolutely unacceptable, that there was no hitting in this house, that it was not okay to hit.

Her crying because she was mad and frustrated turned into despair that I was yelling at her. Cause I wasn't just yelling, I was screaming like a crazy mommy. It was just a few seconds, but I don't think I'd ever screamed at her like that before (with the exception of perhaps a couple times when she was a baby and I was getting no sleep and might have screamed in the middle of the night, but she didn't understand it then and wouldn't remember... you understand, right?). I quickly calmed down, and comforted her, but still told her sternly that it was not okay to hit even when she was really frustrated.

You remember that I am holding the baby this hold time, right? The baby was pretty upset with the whole scene, too. So what am I going to do now? The Pumpkin won't calm down and doesn't want the baby in her room, although she wants me in her room. I tried putting him in the swing, but that didn't work. I tried bringing her into my room again, but that didn't work. I am getting so so so very mad! She utterly defies me at one point, and I yell at her, and unfortunatly I quote, "Are you freaking kidding me? Get your a$$ in here right now!" I did. I'm not proud, but I did.

It was then that I picked up the phone. I told her I was calling Nana because I needed help. And I did. I called and both my parents picked up. I said, "I need help. Can someone please come over?" They heard both kids crying in the background. They asked something like was I okay or did I need them immediately or something--I don't even remember what. And I said, "I need help right away or I'm going to kick one of these kids out of the house. And we all know which one it'll be."

Am I happy I said that, even jokingly? Eh. Am I okay with the fact that I said it in front of my very verbal daughter? No. But it came out, so there it is. I screamed at my daughter, used a cuss word and then joked that I was going to kick her out of the house. Good night! This was not one of my finer parenting moments. Did I mention how great the rest of the day was? This was just a miserable 45-60 minutes. Maybe I should erase this post and try to forget it ever happened...

Well, I'll at least end the story. I hung up the phone and went downstairs to unlock the door. I left the Pumpkin in my room, on my bed, and was going to come right back up to her. I had the baby in my arms still. When I walked back up the stairs, she was in the door to her room, I think looking for me. She was calm. I was calm. The baby was calm.

I said to her, calmly, "Are you ready to go lie down in your room?" She said yes. We all went in. I told her I was sorry I had been yelling and I was sorry that I couldn't just lie down with just her without the baby, but I needed to nurse him. So I lied down on her bed next to her and nursed the baby. She lied down next to me on the other side and said, "I need a hug."

My sweet little girl. I gave her a hug and snuggled her up to my other side. She even reached around me and patted the baby very gently. It was actually a very beautiful moment. The kind I was hoping would happen... without the nightmare preceding it.

When I heard my dad come in the house and up the stairs, I told the Pumpkin that Pop Pop was here and I was going to give the baby to him. She was okay with that. By the time I gave the baby to my dad and went back into her room (just a couple minutes, at most), she was asleep. Fast asleep. I took a minute to wash up and change into my PJs, then I took the baby back, thanked my dad, and sent him home. I got the baby to sleep and went to sleep myself. Exhausted and completely drained. The Pumpkin slept through the night on her own, and I nursed the baby every hour or two through the night.

Sunday was fine. We were all tired and didn't do much, but that was okay. We were all in fine moods, and nothing major happened. Londo surprised me by coming home early, so I even got a nap.

Overall, the weekend was fine. Good even! But I still need help at bedtimes. Once the Pumpkin has adjusted to pre-school, we will work in earnest to get her to start falling asleep by herself. Hopefully. But until then, I still can't do bedtimes by myself.

When my daughter is grown and in therapy and is trying to figure out where all her issues with her brother stem from, I will show her this post and tell her this is where it all began.


Anonymous said…
hey there, I found you via AskMoxie and have been reading for a while, but never posted.

please try to give yourself a break about that bedtime. Both the kids will be fine. I've been there & done that, and I only have ONE!! you are doing such a great job.
take care, Lisa F.
Karen said…
It's normal, hon. We all lose it sooner or later. What's important is that you apologize to your kids, tell them that mommies mess up sometimes, too, and move on with a hug.
Cloud said…
Bedtime is what scares me about the idea of being alone with two kids, too.

Pumpkin will be fine. I don't think this will even come up in her future therapy sessions. Pookie has already forgotten about it. You'll beat yourself up for awhile, but hopefully, you'll be fine, too!

I've lost it at my Pumpkin, and I don't even have the excuse of a second baby (yet). It happens to everyone.
paola said…
If your little girl will be in therapy, I hate to think where my kids will be!!

If this is the first time you have yelled and used a cuss word with a 2.5 year old, kudos to you. It is such a difficult age, and with a newborn to factor in, it is sheer hell.

Don't beat yourself up over it next time. As you have discovered there are moments where everything runs like clockwork and you are a 'domestic goddess' and then everything falls to pieces. Wouldn't parenting be boring if that weren't the case?
Clementine said…
My girls are closing in on the 2 year mark, and I find that I have to be increasingly careful about my own responses. Can't they push our buttons and drive us crazy? It's reassuring to hear that other mothers have lapses of patience and calmness, too. Hang in there!
After Words said…
I had the exact same problem when my daughter was born. Here's what I did when I had to do bedtime by myself:

I tried to time The Girl's last nap of the day to The Boy's bedtime so when she was asleep his bedtime started: even if that was a little later or a little earlier than usual. If I needed time to get The Girl down, The Boy got to watch TV. It didn't always work and sometimes bedtime was MUCH later than I wanted it to be.

Now, it's 2 years later and it's still a challenge to do solo bedtimes, but it's getting easier. Hang in there!
- Dana said…
That sounded really rough. Aria is also posessive over me, especially when I need to take care of the new one. She's starting to kind of understand, thank goodness. She's just about 3 and I think that helps. Although all that baby's toys are Aria's and she's not budging on that one...good thing he doesn't care. That's going to be a fun one to deal with when he gets older and more aware!

A coworker gave me this book, "12 hours of sleep by 12 weeks." I was sold on the title. The training basically starts at 8 weeks and I'm SOOOOO glad to have this. The baby has been a little bit of a mess about sleeping in his crib...Already in one week, he eats 4 times during the day (the same times everyday) and only 2 times at night (soon to be 1 and then none). He stays in his crib for 10 hrs so far and if he cries we can just wait a couple minutes and then walk in, play music, rub his belly, use the pacifer and he's good for another couple hours (never leaving the crib). I'm totally sold on her methods because he was the crankiest baby ever and would scream his head off and needed alot of comforting! He's actually learning to self sooth and it's awesome.

Hang in there, we all have our moments we're not proud of. I know I do!
AmyinMotown said…
Oh sweetie, I wish I could give you a hug. Those first few months with two were so awful just trying to balance everyone's needs, and my strong willed verbal girl was a little older than the Pumpkin at that time so a little less high needs.

I agree with everybody else that you should give yourself a break. Also, big kudos for ASKING FOR HELP. That's where I always fail. Just in doing that you defused the situation and brought everybody back to calm.

I hope you had an enormous glass of wine and an escapist movie after that!
Shellie said…
I"m proud of you for keeping this post. I sincerely doubt she'll be in therapy, but when she has sibling issues at an older age, it will make you all laugh, and understand better. Trust me, when we're tired and frustrated, lame moments occur at times. When she hits and you scream at her that it's unacceptable, make sure to add that it's understandable if you are totally sleep deprived and frustrated to scream the word unacceptable, then you could be more like me :)

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