January 19, 2012

A Struggle

I’ve been thinking of writing this post for a while. I’m not a good writer, so I know that it won’t come out how I want it to, but I’m going to do it anyway because I need to get this off of my mind. It is something I honestly struggle with every day.

Motherhood. Friends, it’s kicking my ass. And that is so, so hard for me to admit.

Growing up, if you were to ever ask me what I wanted to be, my answer would have been “a mom”. I have wanted children for as long as I can remember. In college and grad school, I was a nanny. First, to a family with 4 kids, and then to a family with just one little girl. I rocked those jobs. Why do I not rock that “job” now? Well, a couple things I should probably remind myself of: 1)none of them were toddlers, the youngest was 5 when I started; and 2)I got to go home at 6 every night.

Cooper was, seriously, an angel baby. As an infant, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. He slept through the night at 10 weeks (on his own, I had nothing to do with that), he ate any and everything you gave him-even if he didn’t like it, he was happy almost all the time, he was so content.

And then, I have no idea what happened. He turned 1, we moved, he started daycare a few days a week. All of these things happened within a few weeks of each other. And it was about that time that he turned into, well, a toddler I guess?

Cooper is…a spirited child, I guess you could say. He is super sweet and loving, he will give you kisses and hugs all day long. But he is also mischievous, independent, and opinionated.

He hates being in the car for more than 5 minutes. Most of our car rides consist of him screaming from the back seat.

He hates running errands. HATES. We rarely even go anywhere with him because we just don’t want to cause the scene that the screaming will cause. When he was tiny, he used to love running errands. Well, maybe he just didn’t know he could complain? Ha.

I get nervous when he is around other kids, because he bites, pinches, and pulls hair. Truly, I think that he does this because he gets so excited and doesn’t know how else to show it, but still. He doesn’t listen when you tell him to stop. He does this to me and Lee all the time.

He totally knows what “no” means, he just doesn’t care. He thinks it’s hilarious to keep doing whatever it is.

He throws huge, giant temper tantrums. For the most ridiculous things. If he wants a Cap’n Crunch and you won’t give it to him? Watch out.

He hates food. All of it. And if you so get him to eat something one day, he refuses it the next day. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I can get him to eat Easy Mac. Yep. I know that it terrible. But it’s all he will eat!

If he knows he is not supposed to do something, he is determined to do it. (chewing on earbuds, chasing the dogs, climbing on tables, etc.) He will do whatever it is he’s not supposed to, and look at you with a big smile!

He does not play independently at all, we have to sit with him at all times. Lee and I wonder if this is because he doesn’t get to see us much during the week, so he wants our undivided attention when we are with him? We’ve started making a point to dedicate our evenings to him and not really worry about our dinner or picking up the house until after he goes to bed.

Lately, he has been angry and screaming his head off when it’s time to go to sleep. We have even pushed his bedtime back to 8pm instead of 6:30-7, and he still completely freaks out.

Deep down, I don’t really think C is any worse than other toddlers, but honestly? I never hear anyone else complain or talk about it. So then I get paranoid and wonder if my child is just super difficult or out of control.

I also know that I probably have an especially hard time dealing with it. I am so type A and controlling, and I have very little patience. And for me to not be able to control Cooper’s behavior, or his moods, well it really frustrates me. And I lose my patience too easily. I know that, and I try to work on it.

Lee and I get very little time with him during the week. Maybe an hour in the mornings, and a couple hours in the evenings. And sadly, most of that time with him consists of him screaming, being in a bad mood, and getting time outs. It’s so frustrating to me. And it doesn’t help that he rarely acts like this for my dad. It’s only when he is with us. Most evenings after we get him to bed, or after a hard morning and I drop him off at daycare, I have to force myself not to cry and try to convince myself that I’m not a bad parent.

It sucks and I’m so, so ready for this stage to be over with. At least, I hope it is a stage.

I have to admit, this is the main reason we are not having another baby this year. I know I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I definitely wouldn’t be a good mom trying to wrangle my toddler and take care of a newborn, and not lose my patience.

I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not even complaining. I just need to get this out there. My toddler is a lot to handle. And I really struggle with it.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love him to pieces. I do. And, for the most part, I try and not dwell on these parts of our days, but it gets to me because I feel like it’s something I’m doing or not doing.

I hope this doesn’t come across as me being harsh on Cooper, because that is not my intention at all. It’s more about me. My shock that…I really don’t know what I’m doing, I guess? That parenting is HARD. That this little 25 lb human is totally teaching me a lesson. My dad laughed at me the other day and said “you thought having a baby was going to be so easy!” And I totally did.

And honestly, Cooper’s personality? It is a lot like his momma’s. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for me. I’m trying to control him and he’s trying to control me. Maybe we both need a time out?


Aja said...

Motherhood is hard, isn't it? I don't really have any great experience or advice to offer you.. I wish I did! Honestly it sounds like a stage. All of that change probably did a number on him, especially if he likes things a certain way! :) but you are clearly a good mom and love him to bits. You guys will get through it! And I can totally relate to losing my patience.. It's tough! I think you guys are smart to focus on your time with him and as a family in the evenings.. Giving him that structure and attention is probably just what he needs. I hope things get easier for you Ashley!!

Holly said...

Hey Ashley... I struggled with my toddler the same way for a few months, but it did get better. The more frustrated I got, the more he acted out. Hang in there... This too shall pass. :)

Anonymous said...

I was almost laughing as I read your post because my little guy (who was born the end of April 2010) is really starting give me a run for my money! I went to lunch today, got him macaroni and cheese, which he usually will eat, and all he would do is scream for gum and candy. Sadly enough I gave in, so that we could finish our lunch without ruining everybody elses lunch. I say, be nice to yourself, parenting is so hard. Parenthood is not for wimps! ha ha Also, how he acts better for your dad(and others), is common. Children are most comfortable with their parents and know their mommy will still love them when they have a tantrum.

Lindsey said...

Connor was so sweet before we moved. Now? I don't know if it is the space, us getting used to our schedule, etc. too, but it can be frustrating when he destroys a roll of toilet paper and gets ahold of cookies I baked and they end up on the floor within 5 minutes of each other. Don't be hard on yourself. I know how hard it is to work, come home, and want to have a nice peaceful evening, but the toddler has other plans. Hang in there! Hugs mama.

Michelle said...

Hang in there, I feel your pain! My 23 mth old is a challenge as well. She is the pickiest eater too. It really is a stage, even though it doesn't make it instantly better, it will pass. Maybe to help make bedtime a little easier, try a new routine like letting him pick out a few books to read or rocking for a little. Those are things I tried to make the nights a little easier. We toddler moms have to help encourage each other! Hope this helps a little :)

Mrs EyeCanSee said...

First of all. I wish I could reach through the computer and give you a big hug!

Second. With the exception of the food/bedtime issues I could have written this post word for word. Toddlerhood is kicking out butt too! It's like the day he turned one he switched the flip Into monster mode!

Hang in there! It has to get better......right??

brooke knight said...

Dude. Totes. You also get "quality time" him when he is at his worst- groggy in the morning, tired from fun at school or with your dad, the "witching hour", as they call it. We have some of these issues, but I will say - they get better. P was AWFUL about stores for a while, now he often loves it and happily gets in the cart most of the time without a fuss. That was NOT always the case. I feel the same way sometimes - isn't this what I wanted? Why am I not more patient? I know better. Why does the idea of being a SAHM frighten me beyond belief? I don't know. But hang in there. And good on you for being honest about it. It's freakin' hard! Girls night soon, on that note.

In this wonderful life... said...

I have no advice/opinion because I've not "been there, done that"..but I KNOW you are a good mom and you do your very best! and Cooper is very lucky!! My guess is it's just a stage.. he is pushing to learn boundaries and such.

Meredith said...

Clearly I can't offer any advice but I do know you're not alone. Thanks for being so honest, I know you've helped others with your candid words. Saw this article on Facebook tonight and thought of you... www.huffingtonpost.com/glennon-melton/dont-carpe-diem_b_1206346.html

sarah @ life {sweet} life said...

Oh girl, I'm so sorry you're going through this. Know that you are not alone and we've all been there in same way, shape, or form. It is tough, and these strong-willed boys can give us a run for our money. I wish I had more advice, but all I know for now (or have been told) is stay consistent and this will pass! And also we need to have a little group therapy session. :)

Kaitlin said...

Oh Ashley, so sorry you're feeling frustrated, but I promise every parent of a toddler can relate. L has some ridiculous fits (esp around meal time) and sometimes I just have to leave the room out of frustration (and to give myself a time out). It is so hard at times, but I often repeat "This too shall pass." I find she quickly changes her tune when I completely ignore her outbursts/fits. He will get through this stage, and you will too. Hang in there, you guys are great parents!!

Sweet Simplicity said...

I know I'm not there yet and will probably be running to you with the same issues and you will say it will pass. haha. I know you love Cooper and I know you are a great mommy to him. I'm sorry you are experiencing these things. I hope to get lots of advice in the future. :)

Perfectly Imperfect said...

So you and I need to live next door to each other and let our spirited toddlers just "have it out". While we have wine.

I'm so sorry you're feeling frustrated, but can I just say, I so feel you. I've tweeted before that I just sometimes don't feel like I'm rocking the Mom hat. Motherhood kicks my ass. But I adore her. At least there's that. There are some days where I think "really?! I wanted this?!!?". And I think (hope) that's normal. Because these kids are people too. And they can be very awful people at times. Just keep your head up girl. Like the crying all the time, and the feeding every three hours; this is also a phase. And you will get through it.

And if you can't take it anymore? Well hop on a plane to South Carolina ;)

Ashley @ KiwisandCocktails said...

I am not an expert, but I Think its just a stage. Although, you have me literally shaking in my boots...I KNOW he was a good baby...and as you know, I have a good baby too...and I probably have the same thing waiting for me. I might see if there is Over time available when that time comes :) haha. I Really think it will get better. Maybe he is still not feeling 100%? did you take him to a chiropractor? I think you mentioned it, right?

Ashley @ KiwisandCocktails said...

IN the meantime, DRINK UP! LOL

Jax said...

For me to offer any advice is silly b/c well... I have a furry child and have no idea about having a REAL child.. haha.. But, I CAN say that you're an absolutely fantastic mother and I applaud you for keeping it real. I've heard coworkers talk so there is no way in hell you're alone. One vowed to never have kids again when her first was going cray-cray the year I started here.. haha.. And now, they have another and life is good. I think far too often, people don't want to talk about the truth when it comes to relationships, marriage, having kids, parenting, etc. You are awesome for putting it out there, friend! I heed all you girls' experiences so much more than you know b/c I know you all keep it real. That's one thing I love about our friends. We don't sugar coat. We make each other feel BETTER by letting each other know we're not alone. Love you, friend!

Jax said...

And sushi and wine this week will make everything all better! Er.. or at least temporarily better!