Feb 6, 2013  •  In Aerin, Claire, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal

Negative Nancy vs Positive Polly

Gawd, having two toddlers is tough. And trying to be a good mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done (and I imagine it will continue to be so for the remainder of my life).

These past couple of weeks have been especially trying with J’s parents and my own mother all on vacation (the timing was purely coincidental), leaving me with no help or backup for the kids while J is at work.

To make the experience extra memorable, my little Aerin fell sick with a cold…and as soon as she got better, she got hit with a full-on case of roseola.

How has the human species survived this long when parenting is so grueling?

It should come as no surprise to long-time readers that I am not the most positive person in the world. I have been called downright pessimistic — a Debbie Downer to the sunshine & rainbows crowd that seems so prevalent in the blogging world today.

But I am not a complete Negative Nancy. I have my “look at me sharting rainbow cookies!” moments. And, with my favorite TED talk in mind as I go about my everyday life as a SAHM, I have been noticing that perhaps the greatest influence my kids have had on me is that they give me the most spectacular highs. Sure, the downs are as low as ever, but the unhinged highs keep me hangin’ in there.

average_happiness_vs_transcendent_moments1
A chart from the abovementioned post

As a result, whenever I’m feeling especially in the dumps, or when I’m overwhelmed and exhausted to the point of breaking-out-in-hives-and-getting-nosebleeds (both of which have happened this past week), I try my best to take a deep breath and think of at least one thing that I am thankful for.

And since most of my stress stems from Claire & Aerin these days, I like to focus my positive energy on them as well.

Sure, I could moan and groan about getting so little sleep that my face literally hurts (it hasn’t been this bad since their newborn days). I could feel like shit for losing my cool with them and snapping, “WHAT DO YOU WANT?!??” on more than one occasion.

I could feel like a bad wife for not preparing dinner for my husband for an entire week straight. I could feel like a crappy mom for not always preparing healthy and nutritious meals for my kids — because what can you really do when they REFUSE to eat anything else aside from a few certain dishes? (Special K with whole milk is good for you…right?)

I can obviously go on and on. But I won’t, because I know that my problems are nothing new to parenting. And while they may seem monumental and OMG THIS IS THE WORST THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO ME at the moment, they eventually pass and I go on to enjoy the good times.

Like sometimes looking at C&A and not even recognizing them because dude, they’re so freakin’ AMAZEBALLS and how they heck did they pop out of me?

aerin_claire_bundled_stroller

Or when Claire gets really excited at the end of “The Circle of Life” (from Disney’s The Lion King) and yells “UMMA!” at me so that I can pay attention while she grabs whatever toy she has on hand and holds it up into the air like Rafiki does with baby Simba.

claire_circle_of_life
Sometimes, I hold Aerin up to the air right alongside Claire while
we both sing at the top of our lungs.

Or when Aerin is obviously upset and suffering from being ill and she insists on being held ALL the time by her mom and her mommy only. Yes, it’s annoying as hell but it’s also the sweetest thing to feel that level of love and devotion from anyone.

aerin_sick

Or when I watch the girls learn and interact and play with the world around them. They are SO ridiculously smart. I know that I’m their mother so I have to say these things but man oh man. I seriously don’t know where they get their brains from because it ain’t from me or their father. (No offense, hun!)

chinese_korean_blocks
These Chinese and Korean blocks were gifted to the girls by their generous aunties and uncles.

And when they use what they learn to play with each other? To see them have fun and grow a bond and actually MISS each other when the other’s not there?

Yeah, those moments are pretty kickass. (See the dance party below.)

dance_party

15 Responses to “Negative Nancy vs Positive Polly”

  1. Sorry to hear things are hard right now! My daughter had roseola when she was around Aerin’s age, and it was not any fun (and I only have one, must be much more difficult to have to wrangle an additional toddler at the same time). I hope it gets better soon (and that your parental support system gets back from vacation soon).

    If you feel comfortable, I would love to hear about what aspects of toddler behavior/parenting you find especially challenging. I am always interested to know what other people’s experiences are like (especially because my daughter is a little younger than Claire, so I’m wondering what I have to expect in future).

    • I think that at this point, our biggest challenges come from the girls still learning to share and get along with each other. They have such clashing personalities that even my own mother (who is one of the most optimistic peacemakers I know) says that it’ll be a challenge. Everything else seems to be typical toddler problems. The ones that I can think of at the top of my head include:

      - Getting them to eat well. Toddlers are notoriously fickle eaters, and mine are no exception (ESPECIALLY Claire).
      - Having them test their boundaries. As they become more aware of their feelings and emotions, as well as those of the people around them, they WILL push your buttons and test your limits as they embark on the trial-and-error of human interaction.
      - Night terrors. This is supposedly not uncommon with toddlers, and Claire has been having them for the past ~6 months. There isn’t much we can do to help with this, which makes it that much harder.
      - Learning and questioning. I love the fact that my kids are so bright and curious, but it can get quite annoying at times! (And I know that I will have to soon look up answers to how and why certain things work, because the questions are starting to become more complicated.)
      - General temper tantrums. I once read that a great majority of toddler temper tantrums occur because there is just so much going on in those little heads and they have trouble processing those thoughts, in addition to becoming frustrated at their bodies over which they yet to have full control. Once again, this is a typical problem and not one that is unique to my kids, but tantrums can get difficult for those like me who are sensitive and take everything so personally.

      I hope that helps…best of luck with your little one!

    • I also want to add that I recently came across this article and found it hilarious: http://jasongood.net/365/2012/12/46-reasons-why-my-three-year-old-might-be-freaking-out/

      This doesn’t explain toddler behavior, per se, but anyone with a toddler can really appreciate it!

  2. When you first started writing very honestly about your struggles with Claire and parenthood I wasn’t a mom then and I just thought “Why does she think so negatively? Can it really be all that bad?” and it kind of bugged me. Now that I’m a mom it is a total 180 for me. I get it now. And now I can really appreciate your honesty that you have told it like it is because it makes me feel a wee bit better when I’m holding my breath and reaching deep for some patience on those tough mom days. It isn’t all good days but there is good in every day.

    • Thank you so much for your comment! I know that there still exist moms out there who don’t understand where I’m coming from (and that’s totally fine), but knowing that there are those like you out there who find motherhood just as challenging — but rewarding at the same time! — helps me keep my head up and feel not so alone.

  3. Judy:

    I can’t quite relate since I don’t have children, but I never thought you were a pessimistic in your posts. I just want to say that the dance party is so adorable!!

  4. Kristin:

    Those dance party pics are so so cute! I totally get where you are coming from, I have two boys who are 17 months apart. While I expected it to be hard, most days at least once I think this is so freaking hard how do other people do this! When I am around other mothers and I tell them my boys ages they always say something like, oh they are really close in age. And usually say, “Yeah I’m not sure what we were thinking…” Some moms get it and some I’m sure think I’m kind weird. I don’t mean it in a I wish I didn’t have my younger son sort of way because obviously I would never think that, I just mean it in a taking care of two young kids all day everyday is REALLY hard sort of way, lol.

    • “I don’t mean it in a I wish I didn’t have my younger son sort of way because obviously I would never think that, I just mean it in a taking care of two young kids all day everyday is REALLY hard sort of way, lol.” <— exactly this! Thank you for chiming in!

  5. I LOVE the dance party! How cute they are.

    I don’t think I ever thought you were being negative, I just thought you were going through a really rough period of a long and bumpy road. My mom was always pretty honest about the fact that the act of motherhood was tough, complete w/”I’m gonna get you back when you have kids because you did x, y, z!” But there was never any doubt that she loved us with everything she had. Some people have it easier but *shrug* a lot don’t. It’s understandable.

  6. JJ:

    I wholeheartedly appreciate your honesty in describing how difficult motherhood can be. So many mothers feel forced to fake-say how wonderful having children is because that’s what’s expected in this society. They feel like failures because deep down inside they may feel frustrated, depressed, exhausted, and unfulfilled. Except within the protected, confidential confines of a therapist’s office, you will never hear a mother say, “I wish I never had kids”, or “I should have aborted this baby”, or “I resent this baby because of everything I had to give up for it and everything I have to do for it”, or “I hate this baby because I hate its father”.

    The adherence to the pressured norm of claiming, “it’s wonderful to have children”, perpetuates the myth of effortless trouble-free motherhood AND makes those who don’t feel the same wonder about themselves, “What is wrong with me?”

    With the advances in opportunity for females in education and work, the at-times drudgery of motherhood can indeed feel mind-deadening, no matter how much they may love their children. Your posts present a realistic glimpse into what motherhood is like.

  7. digal704:

    Your girls are adorable! Aerin looks like your husband and Claire looks like your brother in law! I read Annie’s blot too and saw pictures. Hang in there! I had twins with my first pregnancy and was super overwhelmed. I made it out okay. Just do your best and enjoy your sweet girls!

    • Thank you! J still doesn’t see the resemblance, but I’m seeing more and more of him in Aerin every day. As for Claire? She used to be a perfect carbon copy of my BIL but now she’s starting to look more like me too…we all agree that she’s what a baby would look like if he and I had a kid, which is kinda weird but funny at the same time. Perhaps their baby will look like J? ;-)

  8. Kirstie MacGowan:

    When I first read this post, I thought, “this is exactly what I feel sometimes.” Sometimes it easy and sometimes it’s hard and you just want to go and lock yourself in the toilet and read your book. ;-)

    I think that when you are down that you need to take some time to yourself – literally lock yourself in the toilet for a few minutes for some alone time – and then come back out and try to adjust your attitude and perspective.

    SO hard. Sometimes you just gotta put them into their bed and walk away! :-)

  9. kate:

    I love this post. I have soo many of those low moments (kids are 28 months, and 8 months) that my brain hurts sometimes. But yes, the highs are really high, and looking at the two of them together is like the coolest thing ever. You’re not alone… and you’re not negative or weak or any other negative attribute you could contribute to yourself… you’re a normal person doing a really hard thing. :)

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