Monday, January 2, 2012

Welcome to Toddlerdom

This child moves so fast you can't catch him on film.

My 16 month old son has become a terror overnight.

I'd like to blame it on the craziness of the holiday season. I'd also like to blame it on Ryan's genes.

Let me back up to Christmas Eve. If you remember I asked for advice if I should take Joe to Midnight Mass. I got lots of encouragement to take him or to just wait and see how he is when we woke him. One girl on Facebook said I was crazy for taking Joe out of his nice warm bed and taking him out into the cold into a bright church.

What I was most worried about was how Joe would react to seeing me in the choir loft. He is pretty attached to me and sometimes he only wants me- daddy or Grandma won't do. We went ahead and brought him. I warned the organist that I might have to leave, but would be back to sing the communion hymn with the rest of the choir. Well, that is exactly what I had to do. I looked down on the congregation and saw that Joe was getting fussy. I looked and saw that the youngest kid there besides Joe was 10 years old. There were no babies, no toddlers, so Joe kind of stuck out like a sore thumb.

After the few songs we sang before Mass Joe spotted me and it was game over. I had to leave and join my husband in the pew. I was sad to leave the choir because I've been singing with them for 12 years. I've said since I got married that "this will be my last year singing" but I always get roped back in. I'm like the Brett Favre of choral singers.

Mass went smoothly as soon as I went down there. When I left for communion and sang with the choir Joe was distracted by my mom's sparkly red bracelet. Overall I was happy with the experience, but just the fact that I was stressed made me realize that Joe is changing.

Last Wednesday Joe got very sick. He threw up multiple times in the evening. First time that has ever happened. It was like a scene from the Exorcist. We bought him some Pedialyte but he would not drink it at all. He took a few sips of water and thankfully he nursed because I wanted to make sure he got enough fluids.

The next day I tried everything to get him to drink something. For the past few weeks he just hasn't been drinking like he normally does, but since I still nurse him and he still has plenty of wet diapers I wasn't too concerned. Well after he threw up so much I was desparate for him to drink. I tried different cups. I tried tricking him. I sometimes had to force some down his throat. Thankfully, through the beauty of facebook advice I diluted some Pedialyte (even though it said right on the bottle not to) and Joe drank it up no problem. He drank and drank and drank. I felt like a scientist that had just solved a problem or a detective that just cracked a case.

Joe slept fine that night he was sick. The next day when he was drinking his Pedialyte he was back to his old self. He took a short nap that afternoon in his crib.

All hell broke loose that night.

For some reason Joe did NOT want to go in his crib. When I placed him in there he clung to me. He hasn't done that since he was about 7 months old. He screamed bloody murder for what seemed like forever. We finally let him stay up and watch a movie with us and he dozed off. But when I put him back in his crib he was up and BAM... more screaming. I finally just had to call it a night at 9:00 and go to bed and take Joe with me. He slept fine with me.

At 6:50 he was -ZING!- wide awake. Usually I can put him back in his crib with some books and he can entertain himself or he will fall back asleep and I can sleep in until 8:00. Not this time. He did not want to go back in his crib and wanted to go play. I had to use every ounce of strength to get myself out of bed. (I know some of you mama's out there do get up that early or earlier every day. Please don't judge me! Joe had me spoiled by letting me sleep in!)

So all day long I was in a zombie state while Joe refused to go down for his morning quiet time or his nap. And boy, was he a pistol all day long. That night was pure hell. He didn't cry- he screamed. He jumped up and down screaming. He rattled the sides of his crib. All this for 2 and a half hours. I went in two times to try and comfort him so he wouldn't feel totally abandoned. Finally he fell asleep.

The next morning he was up again at the butt-crack of dawn and I laid there in tears. I was so extremely tired. For the first time since Joe was a newborn and I had no clue what I was doing I felt like motherhood was a cruel joke. Thankfully my husband took Joe and let me sleep in.

I decided to go on a shopping quest. Joe doesn't really have a night light. He has a sound machine that projects light on the wall but it only lasts for 10 minutes. I wondered if perhaps he was starting to get scared of the dark (which I kind of doubted since he was the same during the day as he was a night.) I bought him a turtle that projects stars on the ceiling and lasts for 45 minutes. I bought a calming lullaby CD. Maybe some light and some calm music would help him.

We tried it that night and to my surprise it kind of worked! He still screamed for about 30 minutes, but he finally fell asleep. Maybe it was the lights and music or maybe it was because he was so tired. But he was asleep and I was happy.

His new thing is getting up super early. My husband has been awesome and let me sleep in this weekend. He is still fighting his naps and bedtime.

He is getting more and more stubborn and frustrating. He is getting more and more picky with his food. He is getting more and more demanding. He used to be so easy-going and laid back. Sure, I'd have to get up with him 3 or 4 times a night to nurse him, but he'd always go to bed easily and sleep in. He used to never be fussy unless he was teething. No new teeth to report nowadays.

Today Joe was quite the crazy kid. Throwing food and throwing a fit at the restaurant. First time playing in the toilet water. Getting into the curio cabinet full of my mom's nice breakable knick knacks. Throwing a full-out tantrum at the grocery store. He looks at me right before he does something naughty. He is learning to push his boundaries.

I had a usual Maggie-Meltdown and my mom witnessed it. Motherhood is so hard. SO HARD. I sometimes feel I don't have enough self-sacrifical love to be a good mom. I have always read and heard other mommy stories about how difficult their toddler behaved and I guess I've just always been naive or in denial because I never thought Joe would be difficult. Both my mom and Ryan's mom have made the comment that Joe is getting into the Terrible Two's early. But I keep going into panic mode thinking that things are just going to get more and more difficult. Soon he'll really be talking and talking back to me. Soon he'll be even more independent. Then he'll be a teenager and I think I really might lose it then. Yes, I know, I know, there will be far more good/happy times then frustrating ones, but right now I'm feeling pretty down.

Now is the time to really start thinking about how I will discipline him. How I will handle his picky eating habits. How I will handle his tantrums. Before I kind of felt like the ultimate play-mate to Joe. I played with him and made sure he was safe, happy and healthy. Now I have to shape this very independent and stubborn attitude. I have such a huge responsibility and that scares the crap out of me. Of course I have my husband by my side to figure things out with and family and friends to lean on for support and advice. But I am really afraid that I am going to screw up.

I don't regret becoming a mother. It is my vocation, after all. But damn, is it hard. I knew it wouldn't be all lollipop's and rainbows, but, wow...

*Please excuse any typos or horrible grammatical errors. I think I should have asked for a new brain for Christmas.


Alzbeta said...

I know there are tons of views on disciplining, but I've heard some great methods for timeouts - and the woman who talked to my MOPs group told us they are usually ready by 15 months or when they start intentionally doing something naughty.

Parenthood is SO hard! I love it... but I also feel like I really don't know anything about it... I'm pretty sure I won't ever have it all figured out :).

Michelle said...

Meg was a terrible fit thrower! Best advice we got on that was to walk away. Make sure they are in a safe area & walk away. Helps keeps your sanity & lets them know they will not get the attention they are seeking. Attention,good or bad, is attention in their book. Meg started her terrible twos around Joe's age. She is a pro at fit throwing. The one thing I have to remember is that when she is older I know she will hold her ground & I'm sure Joe will too!

Tridentine Wife said...

I'll just say that my twins went through the Terrible Twos starting at about the age Joe is now and it seems to be disappearing little by little at 23 months. So maybe experiencing it earlier will make it go away before 2? That's my hope anyway.

Two of my three children suck at sleeping and by the grace of God I got one excellent sleeper. Once Joe reaches an age where he can start to understand basic discipline, things will improve. I've just introduced time outs and they work like magic!

Oh and I diluted Pedialyte last time my kids were sick and they liked it much better that way too!

BlessedMom said...

Keep your head up, Maggie! You really are in the midst of one of the most horrible young ages. I've got number three going through these stage right now as well; she'll be two in a few weeks. I promise it gets better. Yes, they talk back when they're older. They lie, etc. But they also tell you what an awesome dinner you made. They tell you they love you all on their own. And...this is the best part (hee hee!) they help around the house! :)

I've found that with every child raising children gets easier. Sometimes I look around my house and see my three children scattered in different rooms and am just amazed at how blessed I am. I'd have a dozen more. And this is coming from a girl that swore she was done after the second hellion came around!

Prayers going out to you!

Melissa said...

Every time I think I'm starting to get a hang of it, one of my children hits a new stage and I have to learn about child developement all over again. :) Joe sounds totally normal, the terrible-two's is really just the child realizing for the first time that he is not the same person as his mother, and trying to gain some freedom. It's scary to watch as a parent, but trust me, it's adorable too, and goes by so fast. A book that I LOVE for child developement in each stage as well as amazing discipline ideas is "Discipline without Distress" by Judy Arnall.

Emily G. said...

It's kind of a relief to hear that someone else's kid is as bad as mine. :P Sorry, though. It is hard. A friend said recently on the subject of discipline, "You have to find what hurts them most, and use it". It sounds horrible, but it's basically true. Some kids don't care about timeout. For others, simply mentioning it works like magic. I never thought I'd spank except for very bad things, but it turns out, spanks and spank threats are about the only thing that works for Maria. Positive reenforcement is a joke. She doesn't care. She puts herself in timeout when she feels out of control, but when you put her there she always finds a way to outwit you and get up immediately.

Henry's 15 months and we are headed into the phase you're describing. He opens the fridge and takes all the bottles off the door, running off to swig soy sauce behind the Christmas tree. Throws garbage all over the kitchen floor. Climbs on a chair to the kitchen sink and pours a glass of water on the floor. Gets the diaper bag and pulls every wipe out of the box, wipes his face with it once, and throws it. It's a stressful time, but at least you're not alone. There are plenty of us pulling our hair out of our heads right next to you. :)


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