To borrow from one of my favorite children’s books, today was a horrible, no good, awful, very bad day – a very long, exhausting day. It began at 1:00 am with a child who refused to stay asleep. I’m a wienie when Andy is gone, so after about 20 minutes of trying to coax her back to sleep, I let her crash in my bed. Big mistake – she woke up at 4:00 and 5:00 am kicking me and screaming. I wish I could tell you that she was asleep during these violent outbursts, but she was not. She was fully awake and really angry for some reason. This makes it harder to ignore and to understand when you are groggy and kicked out of sleep, not to mention painful. Needless to say, not much sleep was had at the Carpenter house last night.
We still had to wake up for school for Lorelei and Anya, and this resulted in more screaming and kicking. It took me 45 minutes to get Lorelei to school this morning – 15 minutes for the drive, and another half hour of stopping and re-buckling Addie’s seat belt while wrestling an incredibly strong 2 year old. She was undeterred, even when I braked suddenly and she flew into the passenger seat head first. I spent the next few hours just trying to get some simple errands done to no avail. Addie and I spent our morning fighting over seatbelts (I ended up rigging it so that even if she unbuckled it, she was still strapped in. This only made her more mad, but at least she was in the seat). There was a lot of screaming and crying from both mother and daughter. I yelled just out of sheer frustration and sadness. She hit me, bit me, kicked me, and pulled my hair. I popped her mouth just to get her teeth off of me at one point, and even if this was in my own defense to not have bite marks all over me, I still felt terrible. I hate when I yell and when I have to be mean.
I do not even know what to do with her when she is like that. She gets into a rage that is unstoppable. I did the only thing I could think of, to just keep her in one place and let her get it out. Normally, this lasts a half hour at most; today, it was an all-day event. We picked up Lorelei, but the minute we entered our house, she turned her mood on both of us. I spent most of the day trying to keep Lorelei entertained but AWAY from her sister; Lorelei was also pushing some boundaries today and was very defiant about everything. They tag-teamed me. I rode out the storm until it finally subsided at around 4:00 pm. We picked up Anya from her first choir practice and by the time we made it back home, I felt like I had gone all 5 rounds in an MMA fight. Every part of me – body, mind, heart – felt exhausted and overwrought. I tried to act cheerful and happy, especially for Anya who was so excited about choir, but it was difficult. Addie looked just as bad – she had marks on her fists and shins from her violence, red cheeks from screaming all day, and don’t even mention her hair that she pulled herself in her anger.
What’s worse is that when the fit is over, she is so happy. She’s not sorry, although she doesn’t understand that quite yet, but she acts as if nothing happened. I want to be mad, but then she curls up in my lap and kisses my cheek – how do you combat a child that alternates between trying to physically hurt you and kissing you? At the end of the day, I couldn’t wait to put the kids in bed so I could just do nothing. It’s been a long week, with homework, kids stuff, bills, and family news. I did not need today.
Days like this make me wonder if I am doing a good enough job as a parent. I think of my three children, all raised with the same values, rules, and structure as one another. I look at Anya and Lorelei – they have their moments, but they are generally well-behaved children. They went through terrible 2s but never had fits, tantrums, and days like this. So I look at Addie and wonder, “Am I doing something wrong?” At one point, I asked her today why she is like this. Is there something wrong with her? Is there something wrong with me? I keep trying to chalk it up to differences in personalities, thinking, and circumstances. Life is just a tad more stressful with three kids and in our current assignment/deployment than it has been. When I am thinking about it now, I can analyze this more rationally and see that life is challenging for all of us. In the moment, all I can wonder is why she acts this way or why the other children seem to feed off of this behavior too. I can see how easy it would be to lose control. All I can ever do is try to see past this (“She WILL go to school someday, she WILL outgrow this, she WILL sleep someday), try not to scream and cry myself, and as I said before, ride out the storm.
Somedays, I wish I could scream and bang my fists and feet when I’m sad or frustrated. It’s not as productive and would probably terrify my children, family, and friends. Instead, I get to brave everything, attempt to subdue others, and hope for better days. And despite the trouble she causes me frequently, I do love that small package of trouble. Just cross your fingers that this is all a phase….
***Worst moment of the day: while trying to figure out just what Addie wanted, since holding her, helping her, leaving her alone, or just sitting with her was not enough, I kept asking her, “What do you want?” After several times of asking this, she took a deep breath and said plain as day, “Daddy.” That melted me – we both cried at that one. How do I fix that?