I took a drive this morning. In an attempt to resume exercising again after a six month hiatus due to pregnancy and post-partum healing, I took a drive. I drove to my Stroller Fit class, actually got out of the car and began class with some warm-up jump-roping and a little jogging in place, and then, about five minutes in, I got in my car and drove home.
It’s not that I couldn’t handle the work-out—although my bladder was a tad bit ill at ease about all the jump-roping business—it’s that I couldn’t handle my toddler.
It was hard for me to imagine a few months ago that my Finny would ever experience something as cliché as the Terrible Twos. He was such a sweet boy, I always heard, so polite! The women at the gym daycare just adored him and other adults would positively light up when he threw out “please” and “thank you” the way adults tend to do when they experience the joy of a child who shows gratitude. But now…well now, even though he still lights up my world in ways I never knew possible, I am frequently finding myself experiencing bouts of Big Momma Madness. Teeth clenching, jaw tightening fury towards my own small, adorable, cute-as-a-button baby Finny.
A few months ago, we would jokingly call Finny “Captain Destructo” when he would suddenly sweep all of his trains off the train table or dump a whole basket of crayons on the floor just because he liked the to see them scatter. “Such a boy!” others would quip at his seemingly harmless need to make a giant mess and a loud noise. But lately, it’s not so harmless and his destruction has a lot more purpose: he actually wants to hurt me in order to get my undivided attention.
The trouble is, undivided attention is a thing of the past around here. I can’t take Charlie back to where he came from, nor do I want to, but how do I keep my tiny little madman from opening fire on all of us in a jealous rage in the meantime?
The worst of it occurs when I’m nursing the baby. I sit down with a pillow and a glass of water, but what I really need by my side is a SWAT team and a megaphone. Twice, I’ve literally had to talk him off the ledge as he threatened to tumble backwards off the arm of the sofa. There have been violent bouts of tissue throwing and tearing, he’s tried numerous times to completely dismantle Charlie’s baby swing, and once I found him wreaking havoc in the junk drawer, which he scattered all over the kitchen. I often shamelessly try to lure him into the hypnotic power of the TV with promises of watching a show. “Finny, do you want to watch Diego? Curious George? Winnie the Pooh?” But lately, even that doesn’t do the trick. The worst of it though is when he actually uses poor Charlie. Three times already, he has raised his open hand and come down smack on top of Charlie’s head as he nurses. The first time I didn’t see it coming and poor Charlie pulled away, turned out his bottom lip and burst into tears. The other times, I was able to anticipate it and block the blow, but it’s all disconcerting nonetheless, and in all cases, I’ve had to stop feeding Charlie, set him down and carry Finny immediately to his crib for quiet time.
And it’s not just Charlie; he has started hitting and kicking me as well. Others warned me that this would be an adjustment for him, that there would be some jealousy, but now that I’m in it, I am realizing what a true test of my own mettle this really is.
Today at Stoller Fit, he was trying to fight and wrench his way out of the stroller, and when he couldn’t get his way, he began furiously kicking Charlie’s carseat, which I feared would teeter off of its already precarious place in the seat beside him. After a time-out didn’t work and he still continued to kick and push Charlie’s seat, I finally decided we all had to leave. As it turns out, the twenty minutes in the car on the way home listening to lullabies was just what I needed to regain my cool, but I still left disappointed that we missed the work-out and the socialization (for both of us), and feeling frustrated with both Finny and myself.
So, where does this leave us? A straight jacket doesn’t seem socially acceptable, nor does a flask of Jameson in my glove compartment, so I guess we are left waiting. At times, patiently and at other times, impatiently, for this to pass.
If Finny were a grown, reasonable and rational human being at this stage in his life, I would tell him I love him, more than ever, and that I’m so sorry I can’t hold him every minute of every day because in a perfect world, that is exactly what I would do. In a perfect world, a mama would grow an extra set of arms and an additional lap with every child (which would actually put these extra post-partum pounds to some good use). I would sit and snuggle you, tickle and tuggle you, kiss and cuddle you all day long, while my staff of maids prepare the dinner, empty the dishwasher, dry my hair and organize the damn tupperware cabinet.
But, since it is an imperfect world and I am an imperfect mommy with an imperfect toddler, I guess we will just have to muddle through these tough toddler times and lean heavily on that old unconditional love.