Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Two and Four

So the other day I was wondering what happened to my motivated, best version of myself, the one who used to do structured kid activities and cooking lessons and art projects on a regular basis. Wasn't that me, with the homemade finger paint and the baking of the soft pretzels and the cake? I fear I've misplaced that best self. I think it got lost somewhere during the never-ending winter and the six-weeks-and-counting project to (re-) sleep-train Genevieve. How's a person supposed to maintain full reserves of kid-centered energy, patience, and ideas for fun and enriching playtime activities when she's sitting by the crib until half an hour before her own bedtime? Thrice-weekly breaks to go running aside, that's not a whole lot of down-time from the kiddos.

Lately, Genevieve's been backtracking in the sleep-training department. She throws more little fits at bedtime, and has started to whine and yell and call for me and demand that I sit by her crib again instead of out in the hall. Lately, when I leave after five or ten minutes on the hallway floor outside the cracked door, she inevitably calls for me after a few minutes and I have to go back in and see about the problem, spend more time fixing her blankets again, repeating the bedtime rules, trying to convince her a second time to go to sleep. We're backsliding. I'm starting to hold my head in my hands, dreading that perhaps my 45 nights of determined sleep-training consistency may end up for naught. I can hardly stand the thought. When she throws inexplicable tantrums in the middle of the night, like she did three nights ago from 2 to 3 a.m., and then both girls wake up in a fit of rude and cranky behavior, I find myself praying that parenting gets easier than two and four years old, that something will change for me and make each day easier somehow. As my friend Connie said this morning, "Any job that involves someone screaming in the background is by definition a really, REALLY HARD JOB."

And yet I also wish I was better at appreciating the fleeting moments these are (not the screaming, necessarily, but all the rest). Because I know just as well as any other parent that I should really cherish two and four. Soon they'll be 12 and 14 and I'll probably be wishing I could turn back time.

Or maybe not? Because who would want to return to tantrums and sleep-training?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, I thought I was the only one going through this!!

Tricia said...

Shannon, I have to thank you 'cuz reading about your travails REALLY makes me glad I don't have kids. I just could not do it. I know everyone talks about how wonderful it is, etc. etc. etc. blah. blah. blah. But honestly, what you're going through is just ridiculous. I've never heard of such a thing! What is wrong with that child?!? Once again, I'd be reaching for that Benadryl. I think I'd be one of those parents on the social worker's watch list...if such a thing exists.

Shan said...

Tricia~

And yet--the part that's truly amazing is that despite all the parenting horror stories you might hear (including all of mine), every parent I know STILL would never in a million years go back to being childless. That's how indescribably fulfilling and wonderful it is to have children--that even if words are insufficient to truly explain it to a non-parent, we still would never trade it for not having kids, not even on days like this. Can you imagine that? Think about that for a moment! (I try to remind myself every day.)

What's wrong with Genevieve? She's got a strong-willed temperament, and add to that, she's currently two. I've heard of it plenty. I just hadn't had one like this before her (Julia is nothing like this!).

Plus, I always have to just hope the next day (or the next hour) will be easier.

Mnmom said...

Even though I seriously miss the sweet smelling cheeks and funny speech and adoring faces, I would never go back to the tantrums and screaming. It wasn't just everyday, it was every hour and almost every minute. And I have the videotape to prove it. It WILL PASS but in the meantime, don't hesitate to swap kids with a friend, put in a movie, whatever it takes to ease the noise for even 15 minutes.

Anonymous said...

TRICIA
My daugher Melissa is like Genevieve..and nothing is wrong about them :)))
"STILL would never in a million years I would go back to being childless."