Thursday, April 06, 2006


So it had to happen. Eve grew. She grew from a sweet, endlessly happy baby, into... a typical toddler!

She's still sweet, most of the time, and usually happy. However, now that she's taller and stronger and quick as a mamba (as my dad would say), she tries my patience to no end. And it's not that I expect otherwise. No, I don't get angry because I expect her to be able to control herself. She's 17 months old, she doesn't have the self-control to deny any desire.

And honestly, I'm not angry at what she does. It's more how it sometimes ruins my plans.

For instance... (btw, this makes me feel like a terrible mom! I can't believe I did this), last week, on my day off, I thought Eve and I might enjoy making a fresh-fruit smoothie together, and then, of course, consuming it together. I try so hard to make sure she eats healthy... this is an attempt to combat the effects of the French fries that I cave in and give to her. Anyway... first things first, wash Eve's hands! She doesn't make it easy. Thanks to her perma-fascination with the dishwasher, I always have piles of dishes on the counter and in the sink. As soon as I get one hand soaped and move to the other, she's grabbin' at filthy dishes. Before I can stop her she grabs an empty glass and throws it. Miracle of miracles, it doesn't break. I'm relieved and annoyed. "Don't throw glasses on the floor Eve, they might break." LOL--no, I didn't expect her to understand, but I really hoped she'd stay on task long enough to get both hands genuinely clean. Then she grabs another glass... this one, of course, breaks.

I just stand there for a few moments. Trying to... compose myself. I pleasantly tell her, "That's what happens when you throw glass on the floor."

She'd been fussy and clingy all day, for whatever reason, and I'd gotten almost nothing done. I thought I was okay with that, but my tantrum proved me wrong.

I had shoes on, thank goodness, so I intended to pick her up and put her in her highchair to keep her out of the way while I cleaned up. And then it hit me how much I DETEST cleaning up broken glass. I mean, who likes it, right? But, I would rather clean up muddy footprints on white carpet any day. Glass fills me with this irrational fear... or maybe perfectly rational. It's impossible to see the tiny shards, which are still perfectly capable of cutting and embedding into feet. It's impossible to get away without getting something stuck to your shoes and then tracked elsewhere, where a little shard will remain unnoticed until it injures someone. I feel powerless against broken glass. Not only that, but a 30 minute micro-clean was *not* on my list of things I wanted to do. In fact, I'd swept the kitchen just the night before... sweeping wasn't on my list! LOL... I could think of a million other things I'd rather do for 30 minutes, even folding laundry. The worst of it was that Eve was still clingy and fussy, so while I cleaned I knew I'd have to listen to her whine at me. I hate hearing her cry.

So, as all of this knowledge hits me, I pick her up and put her under one arm, intending to move the chair she was standing on to make my path to her highchair a little more direct and a little less glassy. As usual, there are a few heavy coats hanging on the back of the chair--with glass in them now--because we don't have an entry way, a coat rack, or a coat closet... gah! I'm getting mad just thinkin' about all this. All that to say, I can't lift the chair with my left hand. I'm ashamed at my behavior. All of this just kind of made me snap... so I picked the chair up as best I could (2 legs still on the floor) and threw all my weight into it so I could essentially throw it across the room (well...the 3 or 4 feet to the cabinets), at the same time, whatever monologue I was giving Eve (I am sure it was something along the lines of, "Now you're going to have to sit in your chair, which I know you'll be unhappy about, but you've got no choice, because the glass is dangerous and it's going to take Mama ages to clean up.") went up a few decibels and down a few notes, so I could yell and throw at the same time.

Then I tip-toed as fast as I could and gave her absolutely no sympathy as I deposited her into her chair.

I fumed and railed as I cleaned, until finally deciding things would be better if I just forgave Eve and myself for the debacle (which I was mainly responsible for anyway). I did feel better, but it didn't change the fact that it was now nearly time to begin making dinner.

This was the most spectacular example of my temper of late, but it's by no means the only time I've thrown a tantrum. It scares Eve and it makes me feel terrible... I'm angry that I'm angry... lol.

After talking with Tom about it, we came to the conclusion that I get angry when my expectations aren't met. I don't expect certain behaviors from Eve, normally, but I do become accustomed to the way things go, or way thing appear to be going on any given day.

Part of the reason I got angry on the glass-breaking day was because, as my second (and not usual) day off of the week, I'd expected to be able to do a little housework catching-up, and to have fun playing with Eve. Instead, I neither had fun nor got anything done, because Eve was in a mood. Some days I get angry she doesn't nap. Other days, I can tell she won't be napping, and so I don't expect it, and don't get angry about it.

Ever since Eve was born I've had to periodically readjust my expectations of myself. When she was new, I had to tell myself it was okay to let the house go, because she needed so much. Then when I started back to work, I had to tell myself it was okay to let the house go, because I couldn't be expected to do it all with such a young baby who still needed so much. When my hours were unexpectedly cut back (babysitter issues) I started getting the house in a bit better shape, because I had more time. Then, when I was able to work things out to get back to my normal hours, things fell apart again. And now I'm not sure what I should be telling myself. I mean, I feel like I can't claim I have a needy baby anymore... she's old enough now that I should be able to get stuff done... isn't she? On the other hand, if I set myself up with expectations, they are invariably unattainable, and then I get upset. So, it would be better to never expect to get the house clean, because then I wouldn't get mad about it.

For the moment, I am simply repeatedly reminding myself of a few things. First, that I don't want to resent Eve because she doesn't allow me to get housework done, because spending time with Eve is actually what I want to be doing... it's housework that's getting in the way of that, not vice versa. I also remind myself that even when I don't get around to laundry, dishes, or vacuuming, it doesn't mean I am not getting things done. The day doesn't just vanish. For instance, yesterday, as I was getting agitated because it took me all morning to get dinner in the crock pot, I made a list of things I'd done:

I changed 4 dirty diapers, and 6 diapers total.
I nursed and cuddled Eve to her little heart's content.
I prepared a rather labor-intensive meal from scratch. (this is another source of anger, as I seem to be incapable of cooking anything never tastes good to Tom... there's always something wrong with it, yesterday's meal was no exception.)
I showered and dressed.
Got Eve dressed (quite adorably, of course)
Emptied her diaper pail and the kitchen trash, even going so far as to put new bags in the bins.
I read 6 chapters of Jane Austen's Persuasion (while nursing).
Prepared and consumed two healthy meals for Eve and myself.
Read 2 books twice through to Eve.

All this between 8 and 1:15 when I took her to her grandpa's so I could come to work for a few hours. This helped calm me when I began to feel a little on edge when it was time to change her diaper for the 4th time in 2 hours. With all the breaks she demanded of me, what should have taken about 30 minutes (cleaning and cutting veggies for potato-leek soup) took me about 2 hours to complete... but I managed to be okay with it... with effort.

So... I've learned how to forgive people. But I haven't yet figured out what to do "in the moment" when something makes me angry. Part of the problem is needing to not get angry in the first place over some things, but there will always be some things that are legitimate that make me angry... how do I deal with those?

Right now, I'm teaching my daughter by example that when we are upset and mad, we throw things and yell. I'm glad to teach her that sometimes we get angry and it's okay to be angry, but I don't like the message that fit-throwing is the way to vent that anger. I simply don't know what else to do, and I seem to be incapable of controlling myself to any great degree... I'm like a toddler myself in that respect.