Saturday, August 09, 2008

Not Funny at ALL.

Remember how I said yes to a volunteer job that I believed would involve a few hours a month of, say, typing meeting agendas and providing cookies for Family Fun Night, and then it suddenly turned into me being the person in charge of making sure the entire school stayed operational, with three weeks left until the start of the year? And how I then had a heart attack and died? Except I didn't really, but I almost wished that I would? Because that would be less stressful?

Some people have suggested I put things into perspective ("it's just preschool!"), refuse to stress about it, and let things work themselves out as they will. Those people probably don't quite understand what a co-op preschool really is--that it's the parents who operate the school, and if my fellow Board members and I don't solve this current problem, no one else will, and the school would literally have to eventually close down--but that's another topic. I've been thinking a lot lately about why this unexpected monstrosity of a volunteer job and its own brand of drama has been so incredibly stressful for me (other than the fact that--hello!--um, any normal person would be stressed).

The main reason is that I come to this current challenge from the most depleted and stressed parenting state I have ever experienced, and these days I therefore don't have the emotional or physical energy to tackle any challenge larger than an all-you-can-eat sundae bar. My experience parenting Genevieve these past six to eight months has largely been one of exhausted frustration, from all the tantrums and the screaming and the fussing and the nonstop defiance about every little thing. And the screaming; have I mentioned the screaming? (I present as evidence: today, after six weekend hours with Genevieve, Christopher put her down for nap, wiped his brow, rolled his eyes, and said to me, "I seriously do not know how you put up with it all day long. She is a FORCE OF NATURE. And NOT THE GOOD KIND. My God, the screaming!" My response: "All day, every day, buddy.")

It's kind of funny, because that state of rage and frustration that I experience on a daily basis, parenting Genevieve and her nonstop tantrums, is actually a reflection of exactly what Genevieve is experiencing herself, causing those very tantrums. Right? Funny, no? Only I don't mean funny in a ha-ha kind of way. I mean funny more like the middle of labor when you think to yourself, amidst the most searing pain you've ever known, Huh, funny how NONE of the tips they taught us in childbirth class for coping with the pain is helping even one iota! Clearly, despite all I've been told, I'm actually going to die right now, doing my special breathing and visualizing an ocean beach!

In other words, NOT FUNNY AT ALL.

I can dimly imagine how, were I not spending all day every day willing myself not to pull out my own hair and resisting the urge to run out the front door and down the street to escape the screaming, a development like this volunteer job from hell might seem, oh, shocking and challenging but manageable, rather than the kind of thing that might drive me to prescription pharmaceuticals and a major cocktail habit.

Because YOU try taking on anything larger than back-to-back episodes of What Not to Wear after five straight nine-hour days of nonstop toddler screaming.



squab said...

That is one dare I would not take with a ten-foot pole. Frankly, if I were in your position I'd have crumbled long ago and decided that semi-regular daycare was the only option for preserving my sanity. Not that I don't think Vivi is, like, the cutest almost two-year-old I know, because I do, but lawsy: I have a hard time handling the Hatchling's 2.5 year old tantrums, and Vivi's been beating those for *months* now.

Mnmom said...

Can't be done, I'm telling you. I hadn't recovered from the PSTD of my twin's baby/toddler/preschool years when along came THE TEEN YEARS. And when I say PSTD, I'm not joking. Not at all. Not one laugh. That coupled with every thing else I've been dealt in the last several years makes me wonder why I'm not in a rubber room on a thorazine drip. Or habitually slumped over the end of the bar at closing time at the L&M in Dundas.

RuthAnn said...

Some parents need more breaks than others, and you, my dear, are one of them. Does this suggest a weakness in parenting skills? An inability to cope with the day to day? No, you just have a child who is being quite challenging right now, so give yourself a break! Bring her over and I'll deal with her for a while so you and your eldest can go have some quieter fun. Seriously! (Anyway, she probably wouldn't cry here, since it's a less familiar space and she won't have her favorite audience--you! And if she does, well, I'll deal with it!) Go on, do it!

Shan said...

Squab: how can one baby be so cute and so terrorizing at the same time? I ASK YOU? (Not at the same MOMENT, mind you, however.)

MNMom: I will meet you at the bar.

Ruth: Name the day and time and she is ALL YOURS. (And I'm sure you are right that she won't cry or throw tantrums for you. Because she never, ever throws tantrums anywhere else! And usually not even here, if "new" people are around!)