The Worst Hard Time

I have read at least one other blogger (totally inappropriate mom) refer to early the adolescence/pre-teen years as “The Promised Land” of parenting. It’s the stage when your kids become mostly independent little beings but are not yet embarrassed to hang out with you. They can dress themselves, wipe their own butts, put themselves to bed, etc. My husband and I talk a lot about reaching “The Promised Land,” about friends and aquaintences already there, and friends getting close. 

We talk about “The Promised Land” because we feel so very far from that coveted place. We have a just turned three-year-old and four-month-old twins. We are all about butt wiping and putting other people to bed in this house. 

Because we are basically on the opposite end of the parenting spectrum, I thought we needed a equally colorful descriptor for our own situation. I decided, some what facetiously, on “The Worst Hard Time”(which is actually the title of a fabulous book about the Great Depression by Timothy Egan that you should all go read, as soon as you finish reading this post and all of my archives you may have missed).

On a side note, I can’t believe there was a time in my life, not so long ago actually, that I could free read books on the Great Depression.

For ease of reference, you know you’re living through “The Worst Hard Time” when: 

  • You experience sleep interruption anywhere from one to six times a night;
  • You have a changing station complete with diaper genie on every level of your house;
  • You own more bottles and sippy cups than you do wine glasses (by a lot; and the former get a hell of a lot more use than the latter);
  • You plan outings with adult friends who also have children and then hardly talk to each other the entire time except to say hello and goodbye because you’re too busy chasing your kids and/or feeding and changing and your kids;
  • You own a great deal of hand sanitizer and yet never remember or have time to use it;
  • All you want to do by the end of the day is lay on your back on the hard, hard floor and think about the day when you will never have to pick anyone up again;
  • The only classical music you recognize comes from your children’s baby Einstein toys;
  • You’ve seen one, maybe two, Oscar contenders in the last few years but you’ve seen every damn episode of Paw Patrol since the beginning of time in the last two weeks;
  • You only shower out of necessity (for instance, when you go to put your hair into a ponytail in the morning and realize that it is caked with spit up) or as a means of hiding from your children for a blessed five minutes while someone else deals with them;
  • There is laundry to be done, so much laundry every damn day;
  • You become so adept at communicating baby-related breakdowns via text that your significant other knows to stop to pick up dinner on the way home from work without being directly asked to do so;
  • Your in-laws, who are good with babies and live nearby, are your new squad;
  • Your oldest child is getting a boatload more screen time than he ever could’ve wished for, while you’re younger ones live in those bouncy-jumper things until they either start screaming or fall asleep;
  • You save the one pair of pre-pregnancy jeans that you can finally fit back into for special occasions only (otherwise, sweatpants);
  • Your hair stylist compliments you on how fabulous your ends look even though you haven’t been able to get in for a cut in 10 months (you explain it’s because you no longer blow dry or otherwise style your hair – ever);
  • You could not survive without Amazon prime (seriously, household necessities cannot be obtained by any other reasonable means);
  • You can’t take a step in your basement without tripping over some sort of toy, fort, or train set;
  • You are generally in bed well before 9 pm because you’re so incredibly exhausted, yet manage to stay awake another two to three hours wasting time on your phone (say, writing yet another “mom” blog).

So yeah, we are definitely living in “The Worst Hard Time” and will be for (gulp) years to come. But some blessed day we too shall reach “The Promised Land” and have only our own butts to wipe.

The threenage years

Oh. My. God. What happened to my sweet, soft-spoken, generally polite and obedient child? Some days, I still see glimpses of him. Other days, it’s like we need an exorcist. 
He will throw a full-body tantrum because I used the wrong color milk cup (note to self: the cup or at least the lid should always be blue). He will scream as if being stabbed with one thousand knives when I attempt to wipe his runny nose. He will cry as if his life is ending when I pause Paw Patrol so that we can start dinner. 

And some of the things that come out of his mouth! I wouldn’t be more surprised if his head started spinning around while he spoke in tongues. “Don’t talk to me like that,” he will spit at me with real venom in his voice. “Don’t touch me,” he will whine as he ducks to avoid my kiss.

I get that he is asserting his independence and that this is developmentally appropriate but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck. It most definitely does suck. Especially in public. And in front of friends and relatives. And even when it’s just me. 

It is never pleasant when someone is blantantly rude to you and it is especially unpleasant when that person wouldn’t exist but for the sacrifice of your belly, regular sleep schedule and most of your free time. I mean, come on! I planned you an elaborate superhero third birthday party and now you’re going to hide in the bathroom the whole time because it “hurt” when I wiped your bottom!? (To be fair, you did tear yourself away from the bouncy castle in time to poop in the potty instead of your undies so big props for that, but still, toilet paper does not hurt).

Generally, I am able to be extremely patient with my kiddo’s less than stellar behavior. It was actually one of my biggest pre-baby worries–that I wouldn’t be patient enough and would thereby permanently damage my child’s mental well-being through constant criticism and admonishments to “just hurry up already.” In fact, I’m honestly not bothered by much of the standard toddler doddling and lollygagging. I can roll with it and even cajole him into going faster with humor and minor bribes. But now . . .

Now we’ve reached a whole other level of irritating behavior. Some of it is still pretty laughable even while super annoying. For instance, Henry loves to tell me and my husband to “walk away” whenever we are doing something he doesn’t like. Picture trying to wrestle your post-shower wet three year old into pull ups and pajamas while he screams “Walk away, mommy!” at the top of his lungs.

On the other hand, some of this new threenager behavior is purposeful, hurtful, even dangerous. For instance, he will jump and land, or throw something, nearly injuring one of his three-month old sibilings and then insist on doing it again after we’ve told him his behavior is not acceptable. Then we have time out. Which results in a fully-body tantrum and, usually, being carried to his room, “Walk away, daddy!” echoing down the hallway.

And the lying, oh my god, he is such a liar. He lies about the most silly things, like whether the dog got fed or whether he brushed his teeth already. And he lies about everything related to the potty. For better or worse, we used Annie’s fruit snacks to potty train; two bunnies for a poop, one for a pee. Last night, I asked Henry how many times he pooped at school so I could dole out his treats. “Ten times!” he reported gleefully. We compromised on two poops and three pees. 

Still, he is not such a liar that he actually intends to deceive. If I ask him whether he is trying to “trick” mama by claiming daddy already brushed his teeth, he will readily admit he is. It is too adorable to really get mad about it, but I do try to emphasize that telling the truth is important. I know it will be important later, assuming we all survive to reach age four.

Probably the most teenage like behavior that has recently developed is Henry’s ability to apparently participate in an extended conversation and then not remember a single word I just said. His listening has actually gotten so bad I suggested to my husband that we call the doctor to have his ears checked. My husband laughed, pointing out that Henry could easily hear whenever I mention the iPad or Halloween candy, even from across the house. Clearly, we are dealing with a selective hearing disorder, something I was prepared to deal with at 13 but not three. I’m afraid there is not nearly as much of a difference between the two ages as I had assumed.

No sleep til Brooklyn (twin plus toddler remix)

I did not sleep last night. Not even joking, or exaggerating. I have three-month old twins who eat twice a night. We don’t tandem nurse (tried it a couple of times; everyone hated it). Plus one twin has a stuffy nose requiring saline solution and nose frida-ing prior to each feeding (if you don’t know what that is don’t even talk to me). 

The three-year-old is often the lower maintenance sibling at night, but not last night. What was a cold with a low grade temp turned in to a full-blown conjunctivitis with pus (i.e. snot coming out his eyes), blisters in the mouth, wailing, crying, sniffling disaster starting at about 11 pm.

After having to get up for about the third or fourth time in so many hours, I finally gave up and invited  the three-year-old into our bed. That lasted about 45 minutes. As soon as he started doing cartwheels into my husband’s face, I picked him up and carried him back to his own room.

Finally, around 5 AM we figured out the right dosage of Tylenol mixed with Advil to knock him out for a couple of hours. Of course, the twins woke up to nurse again around that same time.

I like to remind my husband at times like these that this is all his fault because I only ever wanted one kid anyway. The fact that he still finds this a funny thing to say is probably the best sign that we’re going to make it through.