Friday, November 10, 2006

What the heck am I doing?

Last night after Iris went to bed I just thought, you know, tomorrow is another day. We'll all try again tomorrow. I think that alot, actually. "Well, today sucked, but tomorrow we try again!" It's like my little mental pep-rally as I go to sleep at night.

Eloise has a cold. Last night she started coughing. I was incredibly thankful that even though her coughing kept me up hald the night, it didn't seem to phase her TOO much. Even though Iris got up really early I somehow managed to talk her in to just lying down in bed with Eloise and I and she fell back asleep. As Iris and I got up to start the day I had some energy and decided we could go check out a very cool indoor playroom. Oh yeah, it's Veterans Day. None of the community centers are open. Thankfully I learned my lesson long ago to always check websites/call before making trips places. Okay, plan B. I call Julia. She is watching another little friend of her daughters. Oooo, that sounds good! I fully intend to get us all together to go over there. Then I realize that Eloise is still coughing and Iris's nose is running like crazy. Hmmmm, yay. We should probably stay home.

I've recently decided that Iris does, indeed, watch way, way, WAY too much television. I can't help it. I don't know what else to do during the day in order to take care of the baby and the house and keep us all sane. I decided to let her watch one show this morning, then we had breakfast together and then I let her play dishes in the sink. So far, so good. Then Eloise wakes up. She is in a pretty good mood for being sick. Iris then decides to dump her whole basket of markers and crayons on the floor. She is fond of this and it drives me insane. I always step on them and feel like I'm going to drop the baby and break my neck all that same time. I ask Iris to pick up the crayons. No dice. I ask her again. No dice. She says she wants to watch a show. I tell her she can if she picks up her crayons. No dice. Crying starts ensuing. I realize I haven't had a shower in a couple of days and am suddenly terribly aware of my need for one. I tell her that if she picks up her crayons she can take a shower with me. Crying continues. We go round and round on this, I decide to shower without her, crying escalates. After the shower I let her know that if she doesn't pick up her crayons I will have to throw them in the garbage. She picks up a few, cries more. Trying to follow through with my consequences, I throw some of the crayons that are left on the floor in the garbage. She thinks this is funny and follows me with more to throw in the garbage. I finally conclude that there will be no tv until after nap because crayons weren't picked up. You can imagine the crying on this one. I keep thinking about natural consequences but I don't think I'm even getting the practice even a little right.

I keep feeling like I should know how to do this a whole lot better than I do. I keep thinking that by setting these boundaries with her it will be better and we'll all be happy, but it just explodes in to a huge messy battle. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. On top of the screaming and crying she's throwing things, hitting me, hitting her sister, hitting the cat . . . I know she can be a great, amazing kid. I see that in her all of the time. I'm sure today, if I had picked up all the crayons myself, given her a snack and plopped her in front of the tv, all would have been reasonably well.

In the midst of all of the turmoil, Eloise didn't stay happy for very long. Apprently she only likes one of my slings now, which is the one that hurts my back the worst. Awesome. So I can either wear her in the sling and kill my back in the process or have her cry her sweet little head off in the one that I like to wear more, but apparently has hidden tacks in it that poke her in the back every time she's in it. She's been crying half the morning, as well. I am pretty sure the neighbors downstairs are going to start making elaborate plots to get us kicked out of the building. I mean, I would, if I was them.

It just feels like I'm not getting it right hardly ever. I keep thinking "What's the right thing to do? What's the gentle thing to do? What does Iris need from me?" and I just keep getting it wrong. It's so incredibly frustrating when the only way your day was a success is that no one was killed getting through it. "Well, we survived!" I like to say.


  1. I keep feeling like I should know how to do this a whole lot better than I do.

    I keep thinking that too. (about myself - not about you!)

    I bet Iris is reacting to Matt having moved out and then the baby coming almost at the same time. She might not be able to separate the two in her little toddler brain. Maybe you could talk to a children's counselor about what she might need because of the huge transition she went through?

    By the way, I took EJ and Rei to the grocery store with me after we talked (cause we had nothing at all for dinner so it was imperative) and it took way longer than I thought it would so I was relieved you hadn't called or I would've felt like a jerk.

  2. Oh mama, I so feel for you. I've had that EXACT SAME dialogue with myself. Sadly, though, few answers. It will get better though, I promise it will, especially once the girls are old enough to play together. And then they'll be a little house-trashing team! Something to look forward to, anyway.

  3. i can't remember how i found your blog, but i've been following it ever since the birth of eloise. i had a home birth just 10 days after eloise was born and your birth story inspired me greatly. anyhow, i wanted to tell you about a book i recently read that has really changed me, and the way i parent, (or try to parent!) it's called 'unconditional parenting' by alfie kohn. it is a must read, because he challenges the conventional notions of punishments and rewards, including time out, consequences (even natural ones), giving rewards and praise. admittedly it is hard to let go of some of these techniques, but i've been experimenting. we now have less battles with ds (4 years old) and are questioning ourselves a little less. yes, we let ds watch too much tv and play on the computer, but if it gives us a break (so that i can tend to ds#2 or make a meal, etc) and it keeps things sane so that we can all be happier, i think it is acceptable for now. good luck... you're doing great.
    hope eloise is feeling better soon. ds#2 has a nasty cold and is wheezing like a pig, but is on the mend.

  4. lunagal, thank you for the book suggestion! I will definitely read it. I am really looking for something different, because what I'm doing is decidedly NOT working, not for my daughter or for her parents!


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