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Half past exhaustion, a quarter till insanity

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Reel Mama: Half past exhaustion, a quarter till insanity

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Half past exhaustion, a quarter till insanity

Today Leilani met a dreaded "milestone" of sorts:  she found and put in her mouth a piece of previously chewed gum at the playground.  I knew this day would come.  I would take more comfort if I could be sure that the foreign object was actually gum.  It was white and globular.  It could have been alien poop for all I know.  
I thought the oral fixations would have been long behind us by now.  But crayons are still being eaten.  Yogurt is being spewed on my computer.  She laughs about it.  I can only cry.
I remember the countless loudly whispered words of comfort--"It gets easier!"--during Leilani's first year of life.  And I have to ask: really?  Yes some things are easier, but some things are harder: a lot harder.
And so tonight I find myself at half past exhaustion, a quarter till insanity.  Mostly it’s meltdowns that bring me to this point on the wristwatch of life. I wish we could get all the meltdowns over with on one day of the week.  We could have meltdown Monday, and then tranquil Tuesday, worry-free Wednesday, and so on.
Last night, on meltdown Monday, it was multiple pajama changes: monkeys, then Santa (we don't care that Christmas is over), then monkeys again.  Tonight she requested "Sam I Am" by Dr. Suess, whom a dear friend recently referred to as ridiculously redundant and long-winded, especially when it comes to bed time.  But when Dr. Seuss wanders away from his spot on the bookshelf, all hell can break loose.  Turns out he was hiding under the bed, but it was too late: my daughter’s little world had already been turned upside down.  She also lost it today when my husband, after Leilani proclaimed that she is Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, suggested that she might like to be the Scarecrow instead, because Mommy is supposed to be the Scarecrow, and Daddy is the Tin Man (Are her casting choices arbitrary? Not entirely.  Is it adorable? Definitely.)  Yes, Mommy could be losing her mind, and at that point she tells herself, “If I only had a brain...”
I know I am not alone on this.  A friend’s two-year-old son insists that she call him “Darth.” If not, she will pay the price: I dare say it’s meltdown city.  Even his preschool teachers have to do it.  Then there’s another friend whose son makes a game out of waking up his younger sibling from his nap.  She’s the one who feels like having a meltdown.  I say to her: let it all out, girlfriend!  But she does yoga instead.  (I recently saw a comic strip about a mom who took up yoga to put the “om” back in mom.  We need that!)  I met a mom who related how her three-year-old demanded privacy in the bathroom.  She walked in to find her daughter having given herself a hair cut with the toenail scissors, and about to brush her teeth with hemorrhoid cream.  I like what another mom friend recently told me: “I don’t answer to whine!”  But isn’t whine the official language of kids two to five?
I actually once met a mom who had a full-blown meltdown in front of her son at a big box store to teach him a lesson.  He started to throw a big tantrum, but she answered with a bigger one.  She even threw herself on the floor.  Everyone stared.  He never did it again.  I was a theater geek in high school, but I’m not sure I’d have the guts to pull that one off.
Parenting does get easier, and harder.  These moments will bring you almost to the point when the clock strikes insanity, and we all turn into big pumpkins that can’t move because we are too tired.
These are the terrible, wonderful twos, threes, and fours of our fun, adorable (in spite of their meltdown addiction) little ones.  At the end of the day, exhaustion and insanity take up residence in my brain.  But love is always there, along with an understanding that it’s all worth it.  At the end of the day, laughter heals me; so do smiles and cuddles.  Time stops and I feel brand new when I hear my daughter say, “I love you.”
Parents, are you half past exhaustion? Check out these other fun pieces from the archives:

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