Thursday, June 24, 2010

We DON’T Have Classical Music Playing in the Background

I have a friend IRL (In Real Life) who reads my blog and has told me on multiple occasions that she feels a little inferior (my words, not hers) when she reads. She says my blog makes my life sound like perfection. I do all kinds of crafts and fun adventures with my kids. I teach them how to be independent (like posting a list of Katie’s jobs before and after school). This friend jokes that I probably have classical music playing in the background every day, to help stimulate my kids’ brain waves.


Let me set the record straight: DON’T confuse my life with perfection! In fact, it is FAR from it. Here is a small sampling of things I don’t blog:

1. Yes, I like to craft. Sometimes to the detriment of my kids! I’ve been known to ignore them when I’m elbow deep in a craft. Honestly. Like when Jackson wakes crying from a nap and I make him wait while I sew one more seam or glue one more edge.

2. My house is dirty. It is tidy in that there are things (mostly) put away and if they aren’t put away, they’re in some sort of organized pile. But I feel like there is still much room for improvement. My floor has crumbs on it after every meal. And sometimes I leave them there. Other times, I make Katie use the sweeper or Jackson use the Dust Buster. I don’t vacuum often and I don’t dust much at all. My windows are filthy. So is my refrigerator.

3. I hate to cook. Really hate it. There are many nights we have FFY meals. That stands for “Fend For Yourself.” We feed the kids whatever they’ll eat in whatever picky stage they’re in, and then Dan and I fend for ourselves. Which might mean peanut butter toast or cereal or toasted ravioli for dinner. I could spend a lot more energy and time preparing and cooking meals, but that would mean less time playing outside and less time crafting. Or blogging. Or reading. Or computering. Or whatever. I am too selfish to put meals before my own wants.

4. I am extremely selfish with my personal time. Jackson’s 2+ hours of nap time are MY time. I deeply resent school breaks for the mere fact that I have another kid to entertain from 1:00-3:00 every day. Ugh. And night time? The kids MUST be in bed at 8:00 sharp so I can have time to myself. I stay up late to do whatever random project I feel manic about at the moment.

5. Our background music is more like shrieks of “Jackson, put that down!” or “Mom, Jackson won’t stop ______ [fill in the blank].” There is a lot of teeth-gnashing, sighing and groaning. Not even one wayward note of classical music! I admit sometimes I don’t have it in me to teach my kids how to talk nicely to each other or to me. I get impatient with them and snap at them. I’m the baby of my own family of origin and sometimes I still act like one, even though I’m supposed to be the adult in the house. Sometimes, I’m ashamed.

The bottom line is this: I have lived long enough to know someone else’s “perfection” never lives up to what I perceive it to be. There might be things I envy about someone else, such as more income, better-behaved kids, parents who are still alive and can give guidance, etc. (Oh, how I envy that today!) But when you get down to it? I wouldn’t want to swap my imperfect perfect for theirs. “They” may make more money or be more emotionally stable or be able to talk calmly to their kids or whatever, but they may also have a husband who is never home. Or grief over a lost dream. Or no relationship with Jesus. I’ll take my shrieking kids, dirty floors, and crappy food, thankyouverymuch.

Lastly, I will leave you with a detailed recap of the #1 worst moment of my life as a parent (up ‘til now). This should help you – once and for all – put the classical music assumption to rest.

It happened last night. Here’s the back story: about a week ago, we were at our neighborhood pool and Jackson pooped in his swim diaper. This was the second time he’s done this. If you’ve ever had that happen, you know it’s worse than disgusting. I decided I’m not going to change wet poopy swim diapers anymore. I told Jackson he can’t come back to the pool until he poops on the potty. Fast forward to last night. Dan called on his way home from work and said he’d take the kids to the pool. Since Jackson had already done his once-a-day poop, I was pretty sure I could get him to just pee on the potty as a win-win situation (meaning I wouldn’t have to back down on the no pool without potty). I hung up the phone with Dan and told the kids they could go to the pool. Jackson immediately started an all-out crying fest because he knew that meant he’d have to go potty. I tried to reassure him and told him all he had to do was go pee on the potty. He screamed and cried and said he didn’t want to go potty. I stripped him down and forced him to go into the bathroom and sit on the potty.

He sat there for 45 minutes and refused to pee. He fought and cried and kept trying to stand up off the potty. Pool time was going to run into dinner time (and a meeting I had to leave for), so I told Dan to take Katie by herself for a short time and then come back home. Well… Jackson FLIPPED out at this point because they left. I tried to change course and tell him to just forget the potty and I would dress him, but he refused to leave the potty. Ugh! There was great screaming and crying now and it was escalating. Finally, I physically pried him off the potty and carried him naked into the living room to dress him. He did not want to put his diaper on and was thrashing and writhing on the floor. I realized I better get that diaper on him and get him to a calm place before it worsened, but he wouldn’t be still enough for me to diaper him. He was hitting me and it really freaking hurt. As my last resort, I hiked a leg over him and sat on his chest (not my entire body weight, y’all – just enough to keep him somewhat flat) and diapered him crookedly and loosely. His top half was pounding my butt and back and his lower half was kicking my front side: chest, arms and face. It was pretty bad.

Once the diaper was on, I freed him and tried to hold him and calm him, but he was hysterical now. I am not using the term “hysterical” loosely either. He was raging and frantic and panicked and he had become completely unhinged. The only thing I knew to do was carry him upstairs and put him in his crib where he couldn’t hurt himself – or me, for that matter. I tried to carry him nicely, but he kneed me in the lip and busted it open – while I was halfway up the stairs and afraid I would drop him or tumble down the stairs with him and kill us both. So I hauled him over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes and struggled up the steps (he was beating my back at this point) and put him in his crib and closed the door. He thrashed and freaked out even more, but he was safe.

I went to my own bathroom and assessed my bloody lip and sat on the edge of the tub, trembling and crying. I have never seen Jackson like this and I didn’t know what to do. So I got things packed up for my meeting to occupy my mind on something else, and Dan called to say they were coming home from the pool. They got home and Jackson was still melting down in his crib, so I went in to try and calm him. After a few more minutes of screaming, he finally calmed down enough for me to lift him out of his crib and walk downstairs. He saw Katie and went over and started playing, and that was it for him. All done.

As for me? I was badly shaken. I couldn’t tell if I scarred my kid for life, and I wondered if it might take another three years for him to approach a potty again. I tried to talk to Dan about it then left for my meeting, and cried in the car. The tears really started falling when I wondered how my parents handled potty training – and remembered that I won’t ever be able to ask them.

So… there’s my “perfect” life in a nutshell. The good, the bad and the ugly; sitting on my kid and getting a bloody lip from my angry preschooler. As long as I live, I will never forget yesterday, and it will be a while before I ask Jackson to sit on the potty again. The only swimming he’ll be doing is in the plastic kiddie pool in our back yard.


Gina said...

Not to make you look like a liar or anything, but your house looked pretty darn clean yesterday. Or maybe that's just because I rarely dust either.

When we have something fun here and are not in the midst of home repairs, the kids will have to have a playdate here and then you'll see L in all his glory. I personally was shocked at how low-key he was yesterday. I think Jackson is a pretty typical three year old!

sheryl said...

Oh Elizabeth.... I am so sorry... I have to say, you tell a good story, I feel like I just went through that with you... I could imagine you and Jackson through the entire thing. Don't be so hard on yourself, how would you have ever know he would react like that. I would have thought that was a perfect tactic too.. you are a wonderful mother, and Jackson loves you very much.. you have not scarred him, it will stay with you much longer than it will him. Take a deep breath, and keep doing what you do. You are a good mother..

Emily said...

I love your blog. I think you're an amazing mom. And this post doesn't convince me otherwise. It's life, and kids and you're doing great.

I'm pretty sure Jackson scarred you way more than you scarred him! He'll be fine. When Isaac was potty training he would throw fits like that too. Sometimes, it was like he was possessed and I would pray over him while he was SO hysterical! But he figured it out and I still don't know how he got potty trained. I think he just did it when he was good and ready.

I'm sorry you're missing your parents. I'm sure they would be so proud of you. You're doing a great job as a parent!

Mary said...

I love you Poozie:)

Robin said...

You know classical music can be dark and disturbing too. There is nothing like a major meltdown to have you questioning everything.

Hang tough and be gentle with yourself.

Brina said...

1. I've NEVER seen your house dirty! It's lived in and just fine the way it is. I've never seen crumbs or dust!

2. We all want me time and there's nothing wrong with that!

3. The only perfection is G-d. That's my opinion...but there are people out there who seem closer to it than others :)

4. EVERY KID HAS A MELTDOWN!! Sounds like you handled Jackson's issue just fine to me. I think by sticking to your rule of going potty first was/is really important. That was the first rule I learned at MOMS Club from Marie & Kelly...never threaten something unless you are willing to follow up with it!

I think you rock as a Mom...and that no, you're not perfect, but you spend more time with your kids and do more interesting things with them than most people. I learn a lot from you!! Helps me be a better mom too :)



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