Friday, May 28, 2010

Very challenging parenting day

Today sucked being a parent. Not that I would change it, but man it sure is hard sometimes.

I suppose it started last night when Guy went to bed too late. He can't sleep if either of us are awake and sometimes we adults just can't go to bed at 9:00. So he was up until 11. He got up late this morning, but I guess that just wasn't enough sleep or something.

We've had a very bad habbit of using the TV (not commercial television) to entertain Guy when we need a break or when we need to get something done. Especially when I am milking the goat or attempting to get something done outside. I know what he is doing when he watches a movie. But if he is not watching TV, he is likely either getting into something dangerous, yelling about me not being in the house with him, or doing something he knows he is not supposed to do (like putting all his cars down the heat vent or coloring on the windows). And so the TV has become the old stand by to babysit him while I try to get stuff done. I hate myself for doing it. I've always been anti-TV for him. But what can I say? It is just so easy. I try to set limits but they are always stretched.

Today I decided to really limit the TV watching. But now it has gotten to the point that he really doesn't know what to do with himself if he is not watching something. He can't really entertain himself and requires my assistance.

I tried to make cookies with him. But he was a bit grumpy and wanted to do things his way. He wants to stuff raisins where they don't belong, eat the raw cookie dough, etc. He really likes vacuuming, which is great because it helps me and engages him, but sometimes he takes it too far. Today he vacuumed the baking soda and baking powder out of their cans. Also, Ed has a huge  bag of sugar on the floor (mostly for feeding the bees) but Guy decided it woud be fun to vacuum as much sugar out of the bag as he can. The vacuum is so full that it will not suck anything more up.

BIG fits when the vacuum was turned off.

Naptime attempt number one was around 12:00. Unsuccesful.

We read for awhile. Naptime attempt number two around 1. Unsuccesful.

Sometimes, taking a bath will put him in sleepy mode. But boy was he pissed off when I tried to take a bath. Not only did he not want to take a bath he did not want mommy to take a bath. He screamed and cried at me the entire time. Threw a fit, threw everything on the bathroom counter into the sink. When I got out of my abbreviated bath and tried to lay back down with him was when things got really ugly.

He would not lay down. He just stood there, screaming and crying at me. His poor little eyes were beet red and swollen. But he wouldn't go play or anything. He just cried and cried. He screamed bloody murder when I picked him up to lay down, only to crawl back down onto the floor and cry miserably. He couldn't even see through his tears and was a danger to himself. He threw a few books around. He really needed to sleep, but didn't want to. So then I decided that I just needed to hold him down until he got tired enough to sleep. He fought and fought me on that. Screaming, hot tears. It didn't work.

Around 3pm I let him get up again to see what he would do if I let him up. He wanted to go in the living room and cuddle on the couch. He still couldn't sleep. Finally I told him I was going to go lay on the bed to check my e-mail to see if he would follow me in there. He did, but he still didn't want to sleep.

By this time I am totally exhausted and can barely stay awake myself. Nearly four hours have passed since I had tried to first get him to go to sleep. I may not have been able to induce sleep in him but I was able to induce sleep in myself.

Sometimes it is like caring for a newborn.

Around 4pm is when he decided to lay down and sleep. I slept myself for about a half hour. I heard Guy rumble a minute ago, asking for mommy. I am debating with myself to let him sleep, and risk that he wake fully an hour in and not be able to sleep tomorrow (but the hope would be that he sleep completely through the night). Or, do I let him wake now, and know that he will half asleep for the next two hours, wake fully around 9, and not be able to sleep until midnight?

And what about this friggin' TV? Should I throw it out and just force us not to live with the baby-setter? Would that help him figure out how to entertain himself? I know academically it is not good that he sit in front of the TV. But is it a viable tool to help us keep him entertained when we are trying to get things done?

I'm betting I won't ever be able to fully answer the question. I ashamedly admit that we let our nearly three year old watch far too much TV. I know what the doctors say. My harshest inner critic says that if I cannot fully commit to taking great care of Guy then I should either give up trying to do other things while watching him or *gasp* put him in a responsible daycare that can take care of him without the TV (which I am so NOT going to do but that is what my inner voice is telling me).

And the icing on the cake--he wacked me in the face, on purpose. Just because I was trying to sing him the ABC song.

Hmmmm.... Love my son. More than anything. But some days suck.

He woke up. It is now 7:30. I hope he is able to fall asleep at a decent hour.


Anonymous said...

Hi Amy Dear~~ You know I've heard of kids who just don't sleep. It's not your fault. This is the first thing you must recognize. It's not your fault. Okay?

I hate to say this because I know you're not in favor of preschool but I believe Guy needs a change of scenery for a few hours a day. From what you're saying, I think he's bored. It's obvious he is a very bright boy and he's needing more mental stimulation than he's getting at home. There's only so much a mother can do.

Have you looked into a Mom's group or co-op where the moms take turns watching the kids? Or one of those indoor gyms where the kids can run around and play with Big Wheels and balls while the mothers visit? I did this with my kids off and on throughout their childhood. It's especially important for them to get exercise and socialization when they're home schooled.

Most schools offer summer swimming lessons too. I don't know how much they would cost but again, that exercise would probably help Guy to sleep.

I wonder what Clackamas Community College offers.

I know you love your little boy, Amy. Your devotion is obvious and commendable. Unfortunately motherhood is the most difficult and thankless job you'll ever do. I think if most of us knew how hard it was going to be, we never would have kids. And guilt seems to go part and parcel with motherhood. Trust me, there will be plenty of time later on for apologies for how you screwed up as a mom. He'll know you're not perfect but at least he won't question the most important thing and that is how much you love him.

Also, have you looked on blog directories for other mothers of toddlers sites? [I did this with garden blogs.]

Finally I want to tell you how much I admire your humility and candor. It's not easy to admit things like this. Much love and hugs!

Vegetable Garden Cook said...

I hear you on the boredom thing. He needs some friends around.

In the city we went to Sellwood community center to a large gym with balls and toddler toys and stuff. It was fun at times, but then he got bored.

I have so much anxiety about someone else watching him. The only people that have done so are his grandparents, and only for short time periods, like a few hours at most. I don't know why I have so much anxiety... I guess I'm afraid something bad will happen and/or feel guilty for not being super mom at all times (which I already know I am not... it's not possible).

We've done a few swim lessons too. The first ones we did when he was pretty young, well under a year. But again I had such a hard time with his sleep schedules. Often he would fall asleep in the car (before he stopped being able to sleep in the car) or would sleep too late to make it. We've gone swimming a few times, but he does tend to get bored and/or scared. Last time we went swimming he fell in the pool. I'm not sure I've ever moved so fast in my life.

On the flip side, he often has a blast when he goes swimming. He likes it most when both Ed and I are there.

That sparks another idea for me... I think he may be particularly anxious because Ed went from being home everyday (and in a remarkably good mood) to having to return to work. Blah.

I want to talk to the person who invented the 8 to 5 job. Why in the world would anybody want to work so damn much? But most people do it, everyday of their lives. YUCK.

But anyway, I think his whole sleeping thing is just part of his personality. About a year ago I realized this as I thought back over his life and the day that I gave birth. I gave birth at 5 am, and Guy slept on and off awhile throughout the day, which wasn't bad. But, when night-time came and he couldn't sleep, it was a very big problem for an exhausted momma. He cried and cried if he wasn't attached to the breast and asleep in the crook of my arm. Of course, when the nurses came in they would lecture me about how he should not be sleeping in that bed with me. Finally, around 3 AM, one of the nurses remarked that I had been nursing him for four hours straight and that I should let her take him out of the room for awhile so that I could fall asleep.

Anyway, I've cut down on the TV quite a bit this weekend and I think that will help a bit. He's gotta play.