Let’s take a poll.
All you moms–and be honest–how do you go to the bathroom during the day?
Perhaps I’m a weirdo, but this is something I wonder about in the secret lives of other moms. How do they manage to go to the bathroom during the day? And what if, God forbid, you have go to #2? Is anyone else like me and forced to share the bathroom with both children, who for some reason, want to be held the second I sit down? Be prepared for this admission, but I have literally held both children on my lap while I went to the bathroom. There, I said it!
Lately I have been feeling a little out of control when it comes to my children. They follow me around all day, the littlest one clinging unsteadily to my leg, shrieking in protest when I attempt such atrocious maneuvers as walking; the eldest, prostrating herself on the floor in front me, whining simply because she is bored. Mya demands to be held for her meals, not content until she is resting happily on my lap, shoving my food in her mouth and exploring my water glass with her chubby little fingers. When she is not eating or attempting to escape up the stairs, her preferred method of entertainment is to have me walk her around on my hip, showing off various items of amusement throughout the house.
I know, I know…if you don’t want her to do that, don’t give in to her demands, you are thinking.
Let me ask you something: Do you enjoy blood-curdling screams during your dinner? Hmmm? Do you?
And I have, I’ve tried to set my foot down. Just two days ago, I was trying to cook dinner and she wanted me to hold her. I have always held my children a lot. I’m a big believer in keeping my babies close and letting them experience the world safely from my arms. (I never had one of those wraps, but I definitely will get one if, ok who I am kidding, when I have another child.) I would plan my household chores around which ones I could do when she was sleeping and which ones I could do when I was holding her. For instance, vacuuming and unloading the dishwasher are one-handed chores, while chopping vegetables for dinner requires two hands. But all of this was a heck of a lot easier when she was not a twenty plus pound infant who can reach, pull, grab and otherwise test the limits of how far she can actually go without hurtling out of my arms. At ten months old, even with the incredible bulging bicep I have developed (left arm only, very attractive), it’s getting difficult to lug her around all day.
The problem, of course, is that she doesn’t realize this. When I attempted to show her that she would, in fact, survive if I placed her on the floor during dinner prep, she resisted quite heroically. Picture, if you will, a baby dressed in piggie pajamas, head thrown back in screaming protest, every fiber of her chubby being downright mad. And the cry–I wish you could hear my child scream. She has the most shrill scream I have ever heard. It grinds you and deafens you in a way that is almost unbelievable until you have actually heard it. By the time Ben got home, my ears were ringing and I am certain I suffered some sort of hearing loss akin to sitting in front of speakers at a heavy metal concert.
But I tried. After she screamed for a bit on the floor and exhausted herself, I put her in her crib, hoping she would be so tired she would fall asleep. Ha! So we moved back downstairs. After more time had passed, I even tried nursing her to calm her down. No such luck. Finally, I did pick her up, but sat down on the couch with her. The indignation! She wanted to be in the kitchen, gol darnit!
Needles to say, dinner was late that night. Siighhh…
So I am facing a battle. I am trying earnestly to teach my children that I am not on this earth to be there 24/7 entertainment director. The girls will be 3 and 1 in May, and I do believe it is perfectly acceptable to start expecting them to play on their own. I fear that in trying so hard to stay home with them and play with them and otherwise be with them every day, I have created somewhat of a monster. The “entertain me Mom” monster.
In writing this post, I have gotten up approximately twelve times to attend to Ada. I decided NOT to feel guilty about sitting down to type this while simultaneously refusing her requests to watch “just a little bit of cartoons.” Let her play. Be the live example of this post. Right.
Knowing I was testing her, she started off by firstly tearing off the printer door and whipping it across the office. (Not sure how she even managed that, but two years do have superhuman strength at times…). Then she enjoyed the view from the naughty corner for a two-minute timeout. Then she had to go potty. Then she wanted a banana. Then she wanted to wedge herself into the tiny place between my desk and printer, precisely close enough to me to be not actually touching me, but close enough where I can feel every banana laden breath on my arm as I type. When I asked her to please move, she tried the other side, resting her chin on my arm like a puppy. When I still encouraged her to go play, she stepped it up a notch, trying the whine-on-the-floor routine. Next, she licked the office door and watched for my reaction. She threw my phone on the ground, breaking the battery. Enjoyed another time-out. You get the picture. Finally, she gave up and entertained herself playing with Mya’s baby gate. Not the entertainment of choice I would have guessed, but hey, she was happy for a grand total of three minutes…at which time, Mya awoke.
Moms, it is not our job to provide ceaseless entertainment for our children. Let them be bored. Let them whine and lay on the floor until they decide to pick themselves up and go play. I want my children to develop their own imaginations, without me constantly saying “Why don’t you color? Why don’ t you play with your easel? Read a book?” Yes, we guide, yes we interact with them, but we don’t create a crutch for them. We don’t over-structure and under-stimulate so that, given two minutes to themselves, they don’t know what to do.
Sometimes I feel like I’m not the one in charge. Like there is a little boss in my house, demanding and controlling, always watching me with disapproval.
Today, I’m going to take charge.
Wish me luck.