Sometimes I am amazed at how quickly the emotional roller coaster called Mommyhood can take drastic twists and turns. For example, I could be feeling frustrated with Mason one moment- perhaps he is telling me “No, I’m not doing that” with an attitude I thought only 15 year old girls could muster (hey, I’m being honest here. Mason’s attitude and defiance towards Jeremy and I are off the charts some days. If a stranger were to hear the way he talks, their jaws would probably drop to the floor). Or perhaps he is refusing to eat his supper or terrorizing the cat. I yell at him if I am unable to keep my temper in check, and then one of two things happen. He either doesn’t listen to what I am saying (cue the inevitable tantrum, or at the very least a time out on Mommy’s bed), or he listens to what I am saying and I realize I could have just talked nicely to him. If he asks me why I yelled at him, well that just makes matters worse. Because then I feel terrible for raising my voice when I could have just rationally talked it out with him. And this folks, is what I mean by an emotional roller coaster. I am screaming one moment and then a weepy mess the next, vowing to reserve yelling at Mason only when it is necessary.
And then I carry the guilty feeling with me through bedtime. Mamas- I know you feel me!
This is one of those No-One-Tells-You things. To elaborate, when you bring your firstborn home from the hospital, experienced family members and friends suggest that you “sleep when the baby sleeps”. They also tell you that you will change upwards of 8 poopy diapers and other random tidbits of knowledge such as giving the baby gas drops if they are hysterically crying for no reason, or to keep them cool while feeding them so they stay awake. They can give you all of the tangible advice in the world, and one vague bit of intangible advice: “Your life is going to change.”
OK, got it. My life is going to change. This is just about the biggest generalization I have ever heard, along with being one of the most understated. Your life won’t just change, you will change. You will not be the person you were before you had children. No one tells you how being a parent is one of the most emotional things you will ever do. One moment your heart feels like it will literally burst with happiness and the next your heart is breaking because the world is cruel and terrifying, and your child is in it. Even if new parents were told this numerous times, they wouldn’t fully comprehend it. It’s a journey, and the only way to grasp the scope of how many emotions one person can have in a day is to go through it.
This past week was no exception; there were definitely some ups and downs on our roller coaster!
- I spent the night in the ER late last week with a fever of 101 that I could not get to drop. The staff ended up treating me for viral meningitis. Before finally agreeing to allow Jeremy to take me in, though (at 3am, of course), I had a weep-a-thon about leaving Mason all alone on the first floor of the house, even though Jason is right downstairs. My fear was that Mason would wake up, not be able to find us, panic, and cry uncontrollably. We eventually left, but Jeremy had to convince me that Mason would be just fine, and that his mom and step-dad would be there before he woke up and even noticed we were gone. Down……
- ….and up. Mason was very helpful the days I was sick, and very sweet. He helped me fold the washcloths (I didn’t care that they weren’t perfect, it was so cute to see him try. Also, new weekly chore for him! He likes doing things that he can feel proud of when complete). He kept cupping my face in his little hands and saying “I will always take care of you”. Excuse me, don’t mind me while I go bawl my eyes out.
- On Wednesday evening my sister Angela and I decided to go to Marshall’s to search for curtains for her new apartment. Just as we were about to walk out the door, Mason started to cry and stated that he wanted to come with. “Do they have toys at Marshall’s?” he asked, wide eyed. “Yes,” I explained, “but we are not getting a new toy today. We are buying curtains, but no toys. We can find a toy another time. Do you understand?” (<—- see how I repeated myself 3 times to make sure I was heard?). “Yes,” he said. So I agreed and along he came. I probably don’t need to go into any sort of detail, but as we passed the toy section and I reiterated that we are NOT getting any new toys today, Mason had a complete meltdown. I wanted to scream. So we walked towards the exit with me saying things like “Now everyone is going to see what a baby you are. Look everyone, look at what a baby Mason is behaving like”, and him saying things through clenched teeth like “I’m gonna get out of the truck and walk back to Marshall’s and take the toys, and then I’m gonna make you and Auntie come back and get me.”. Yeah, OK Pal. Down…..
- …..and up. Being silly with Mason is one of my favorite things, partly due to the fact that my Dad was so silly with me and my sisters, and it makes me happy. Barb, Mason, and I were watching American Ninja Warrior one evening while Jer and Dave put in a new screen door. Mason and I were making hulk noises at each other, flexing our muscles, yelling, and talking about how he was going to compete in ANW someday. He says he is going to “Have muscles bigger than those guys”.
- Discipline is something Jer and I struggle with because there are times Mason doesn’t respond to any method, it just seems to escalate the situation. One morning Mason refused to get dressed, and it quickly turned into one of the biggest meltdowns I have seen in a while. Jeremy started putting all of his toys in garbage bags, explaining “I am going to give these toys to little boys and girls who listen to their parents”, and with each trip from his room to ours, Mason clung on to Jer’s leg, screaming “NO, DADDY!” about 100 times. It was brutal. When the room was almost completely empty, he was practically hyperventilating and it was a good hour before I could get him to calm down and understand that if he could be nice and listen to his parents through the week, he would earn his toys back. I sort of lost all ambition for the rest of the day. Down….
- ….and up. Mason pats my belly and kisses it, and asks how the baby is doing. I tell him that the baby is good, and when he arrives he is only going to be thiiiiiiis big (holds hands 20 inches apart to illustrate). “Will he play with my toys?” “Not right away, he is going to sleep a lot.” “When will he wake up?” “When he is hungry.” “Will he share my fruit snacks?” “No, babies drink milk only at first.” *pause to digest this information* “I miss the baby.” “You haven’t even met him yet!” “I still miss him though. When is he coming out of your belly?” “Christmastime.” 🙂
I want all Mama’s reading this to know that if you are ever feeling like you can’t take another emotional shift in your day, that I am right there with you! And when the ups come, and your heart swells, isn’t is all worth it?