Let me tell you about yesterday.
Yesterday was pretty normal to begin with. Everyone woke up, Gabe was happily eating apple slices at the table when I came out after my shower. He did his normal thing where he doesn’t want to put his coat on and I ended up carrying him to the elevator while he snuggled into my shoulder. Everyone went to work and school. I read about 40 articles and edited them all. I had a salad and an egg roll for lunch because I am only human. I took a short lunch and got off early because I felt like it.
When we got home Kamel was doing dishes while I made dinner. Spaghetti and meatballs with my homemade sauce. Gabe was manically losing his mind because he is 2 on Sunday. He wanted milk, but he wanted to get it himself from the fridge. He wanted to put it away by himself in the fridge. He wanted no help with anything ever how dare you touch that, he will now scream at you as if you are cutting off digits. He did not want a snack, but he wanted some string cheese half peeled to resemble an octopus. Octopus cheese to be exact. But he did not want you to help him with the cheese peeling part that turns it into an octopus. My cheese he kept saying, MINE.
Fine! I don’t really care if it turns into an octopus. That was your thing from the beginning, so enjoy your regular, non-octopus cheese.
One demand after another. He wants to help dad wash dishes, but he wants to shove his hands into a bunch of knives because he hates life. Kamel tries to get him to wash benign things like pots and spoons, but Gabe just wants to play in the water. So, we allow this for a few minutes before saying this task is now all done. Now Gabe wants to be held so he can watch what is happening on the stove. But there aren’t enough arms for him because we are all needing to do stuff and the stove is hot and I need to stir and I don’t want him thrusting his hands into boiling water. So there is just whining and crying and fussing and whining some more.
And I feel like my house is chaos. There is Kamel who had yet another filling today and his mouth is still all numb even 4 hours later, and there is my kid who is a manic disaster, and there is pregnant me. And somehow I get dinner on the table, and somehow Gabe, with the help of Kamel’s patience, sits quietly and picks pieces of spaghetti up one at a time and sticks them in his mouth, but only if they have NO little bits of anything on them. They must have the lightest of light coating of pasta sauce and nothing else.
After he is done I take him to wash his hands, something he LOVES to do. Except we can’t stand at the sink for eternity. I just keep thinking about the water we’re wasting so when it is time to be done we are done. But it is never enough for Gabe. Never enough. And he screams at me and at the world for telling him we’re done now and he won’t let me wipe his face off with the towel and he is fighting me and pushing me away and I’m saying, “Enough. Stop. We are done here. Gabriel.” And I pick him up and put him on the floor and off the stool. I try to redirect him by having him turn off the bathroom light, which he almost does until he remembers he wants to be back on the stool. But I say, no. We are done with the stool, we are done washing hands. But he keeps trying to get on and keeps trying until I’ve had enough and pick up the stool and stick it in the bath tub. And then I pick up my hysterical kid and stick him in time out because this is going absolutely fucking nowhere and we all need a minute.
I walk away because this is all sending me over the edge. But he doesn’t calm down. He keeps calling my name and sobbing or calling for dad and sobbing, and Kamel keeps telling him “Gabriel you need to stay in time out until mom comes to get you.” So when clearly nothing is getting better I go and I sit with Gabriel in time out. Where he then swats at me over and over again until I have to hold his arms at his sides and he wails in my face. And I sit there and he is hysterical and the truth is I have no idea what to do or how to fix this. I want him to just calm down, but I don’t know how to help him.
Eventually Kamel sits down with the both of us and it doesn’t make anything better. Eventually Kamel gets Gabe some milk and I walk away into the bedroom. And thing somehow return to less manic and less tantrum-y.
I tell Kamel he should take the baby on the walk that I had suggested we all go on earlier in the evening before everything spiraled out of control. He says, “are you sure you don’t want to come?” YES, I say, 1000x sure. As they are walking out the door I hear Gabe calling for me, “Let’s go, mama! Let’s go! Mama! Mama!” And I just stay in the bedroom waiting until Kamel has shut the door behind him.
And I cry. A lot. Because I feel so shitty for not wanting to be around my kid who I see for only a few hours a day during the week. Even though he called out for me, even though in his world things are terrible and then in the next moment they are great. And he was back to being normal great Gabe. I just couldn’t go and play nice and deal with the fact that he would want out of his stroller after 3 blocks, and he would want to walk but fight holding our hands, and then get pissed when he couldn’t push the stroller. Sometimes I can’t deal with every tiny small thing being a big huge fucking fight.
Yesterday I just kept repeating, “He’s 2. He’s 2. He’s 2.” But we haven’t even gotten there yet. It doesn’t happen until Sunday. What am I going to do? What am I going to do with 2 of them?
Yesterday parenting was hard.
It is so very hard.