Zen and the impossible art of balance.

April 20, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Posted in Battles (aka: toddlerhood), milestones, motherhood | 9 Comments

On Thursday, O turned into the I’m-two-and-will-therefore-test-every-boundary-and-when-you-say-no-throw-massive-half-hour-long-tantrums-where-I-bang-my-head-and-cry-even-harder monster.

My mistake was posting about it on Facebook, where it was promptly decided that my decision to get rid of the binkies was the culprit.

(I am big enough to admit that losing the bink might have been a part of it.)

However, there was sick. And ensuing sleep deprivation from the puke and sick. And Mom and Dad home, but not really HOME because they were trying to balance work with staying home unexpectedly. And transition to the older toddler room, which maybe put O out of balance, too.

Either way, he was miserable to be around for a while.

Which made ME miserable. Because I spent a lot of days feeling like I was fucking up EVERYTHING.

I had one shining moment on Thursday morning, when I ran my usual 5.3 mile route in just under 51 minutes.

But then *I* got sick, too. And Saturday’s 4 miler was a miserable slog of snot and cough and wheeze and lead legs.

It was on Saturday night, when I left O on the floor of my in-law’s living room, sobbing “OUTSIDE!!! OUUUUUUUUUUTTTTSIDE!!!*” So that I could, you know, finish my now-cold dinner. And though I had to listen to my MIL extoll the virtues of Jo on Super Nanny, I at least got to EAT. And O eventually calmed down and perked up as soon as we mentioned that we were going into the car and going home.

But I’ll tell you something. In that moment, when I was eating cold cod and listening to my son scream like we were torturing him, and my MIL was telling me that Jo on Super Nanny was GREAT with kids, and J was talking with his father like nothing was going on?

I wanted to run away and never come back.

In the years that we failed at trying to build our family, I had all these peaceful, fulfilling images in my head. The calm moments rocking our sleeping baby. The sound of giggles and happiness echoing through our then-quiet house. The sounds of laughter outside, nearly drowned by the lawn mower. Sun, sun, and more sun.

I WANTED this life.

I never pictured the screaming tantrums.

The puke at 3am, the cough, the fever, the tears – both his and yours – because he’s feeling so damn miserable and there’s nothing you can do about it.

The resulting low-grade panic tightening your chest; the panic that never really eases until you see them acting like THEM again.

The speeding on the highway to make it to daycare before 6pm because you boss decides to come into your office to discuss an issue at 5:35, right when you’re about to leave.

The worry about taking him to daycare one day because you KNOW he’s still not quite himself, but remembering your boss’s words in my head when you tell him you have to be home yet another day due to your kid’s illness: “So, I see I have a part-time SEC Manager now, huh?”

Balancing, some weeks, is nearly impossible.

These past few months, I’ve worked really hard at finding Zen in little MOMENTS.

Like the moment at lunch where O climbs up into my lap, unsolicited, to rest his head against my chest.

Or listening to him giggle with glee the moment he lets go and slides down the big kid slide, all by himself.

Or when he takes my coffee cup from the kitchen table and brings it over to me, being so careful not to spill anything, and says “here you go, Mommy.”

Or when I turn the corner in the morning, halfway through my run, when I realize I don’t need my headlamp any more, because it’s now light out.

Or when I’m tossing and turning because I can’t sleep, J puts a hand on my hip. And somehow the warmth of his hand stills my restlessness.

In the weeks where there IS no balance, and the bad moments sorely outweigh the good, and I’m nearly desperate in my efforts to keep the edges of my life tied down in what seems like a hurricane force gale…

…THOSE are the thoughts that keep me from running screaming into the night.

*Why didn’t I just take the kid outside? Because it was 40 and raining and we didn’t have ANY changes of clothing with us. Because he had an awful cough and a lot of green gobs coming from his nose and I knew that it was better to keep him safe and dry.



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  1. And it is in these moments (and especially when they seem to come for days on end) that I wonder how do people manage two, especially close in age, and are we the people who can.

  2. Hey, simply because I didn’t feel like going outside is a sufficient enough excuse if you ask me. 🙂

  3. Oh Serenity, You always do my work for me, I have a post that I was going to hit publish on today, but you wrote it , right here.
    I have been feeling soooo out of sorts with the boys. They are 2, I keep telling myself, they are 2 and they will be 2 and then 3 and all the books, drs, other moms are telling me that “hey this is life”..it’s not taking away the binkie, the binkie has NOTHING to do with it…it’s just them growing, developing , moving *sniff* away from us even at this tender age, but still needing us enough to climb on our laps.

    I sooooo get this and think you are a GREAT mom, one that is like a role model to the rest of us, we are all slogging through with you. Sometimes it’s just nice to know that others are in the same boat.

    hugs to you my friend 🙂

  4. This is so totally me – me ignorning him so I can eat, my husband ignorning cuz sometimes that’s what husbands do, and relatives/friends extolling their virtuous opinion. Gawd.

  5. I feel the exact same way. When the moments are bad, they are really, really bad and when they are good, it’s amazing. I go day by day and never really know if I will feel triumphant or like a failure as a mom. Concentrating on the little things is the best you can do, sometimes.

  6. Oh, the screaming like we’re torturing her is what brings me to my knees. We’ve been having a couple rough weeks here, and no paci removal yet so I suspect your situation is unrelated to that.

    Hang in there, lady, you’re doing a great job.

  7. Oh how I can relate to everything you are saying. All I ever wanted was the sweet baby and all of the wonderful moments. I never thought about nursing a sick kid, missing work, dealing with tantrums, my sweet boy slapping me across the face (got that stopped now). I suppose if anyone thought of those things, they might now want children as much. Kind of like how I hear you forget the pain of labor and birth because if you didn’t, you’d never want to go through it again.

    And sometimes I daydream about my son being an adult and what will he think of me then? Will we be friends? Will he call me? Will he avoid me like my husband sometimes wants to avoid his mom after all that a mother does for her son?

    But you do it because you love your child more than you’ve ever loved anything. They are a part of you and it’s your job to guide them through life and help them be a good person. All they know is what they want. It’s a tough job and it’s a lot to think about!

  8. I can sympathize with it all. Check, check, and check. Especially the MIL comment’s about the super nanny. Apparently she could cure Caden’s “mountain of fears” in no time. check… and SLAP.

  9. Sick sucks.

    I’m glad you can find some balance. I hope you’re all feeling a bit better and more cooperative.

    I’m smarting a bit at that comment about being part-time. Huh! Wow. Grr. The truth, as you know, is that you’ll get better faster if you aren’t stressed to the teeth and lacking in rest! Ah, what a balancing act that is.


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