Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Reclaiming My Life. Again.

Maybe it's the coffee talking, but I am about to reclaim my life. I usually pick up Ellie at day care an hour later every other Wednesday to go to my counselor appointment, but I don't have my appointment until next week, because last week, all was bright and shiny with the world, and I thought I could wait 3 weeks for my next appointment.

Well, today I want to kill myself. <-- in that helpless, counselor-approved "healthy" way, where I just feel overwhelmed and haven't actually, seriously considered ways of offing myself. Promise.

My little toddler has become out of control over the last 2 days, and maybe this is just her new reaction to being tired, and maybe I'm overreacting about it, but I'm determined to reclaim my life. The apartment is a wreck -- partially because she threw a temper-tantrum yesterday and knocked over all of the bins I had organized, spreading toys, markers/crayons, stamps, everything... all over the floor. And partially because I keep falling asleep after dinner... am I coming down with something? Regardless, my apartment now has that post-earthquake-destruction motif, and I'm going to CLEAN IT all in an hour today. Ellie fell asleep before I could have her help me last night.

Before bed, she was still mad about the magic wand incident... She threw it at me from the back seat while I was driving home from day care yesterday, hit me in the head, and I veered off the road. Why!? She wanted me to turn the other direction toward the park, not head home.

Maybe I overreacted. I screamed. I yelled. "How could you!? Do you have any idea how badly we could have been hurt!?" She screamed louder. "Ellie, this is the 3rd time this week you've been throwing toys in the car. This time you hit me! I'm done." I drove her straight to our local thrift shop, pulling up out front in the drop-off parking space.

"Mama, I'll wait in the car," she said sternly.
"Oh no, you're coming in with me."
"But I don't have shoes on!" she yelled.
"That's okay, I'll carry you."

I pulled her out of her car seat, propped her on my hip, and marched into the store. I told the woman at the desk, "My daughter just threw this at me from the back seat of the car and hit me in the head while we were driving."

The woman stared blankly at me as I continued, "We'd like to donate this toy to a little boy or girl who doesn't throw toys in the car."
"Good idea, lesson learned!" the woman replied, taking the wand from me.

I glanced at Ellie on my hip. She was staring at the ground, with a sad, embarrassed pout on her face. I thanked the woman and walked out of the store. As I opened the car door to put Ellie in her car seat, she freaked out. She screamed, cried, as I calmly put her in her car seat.

As I drove toward home, she yelled from the back seat. "No. No! I'm telling my daddy what you did. I'm telling him to go get that wand back."
"I've already told Daddy that you will not be getting that wand back."
"Well, I'm telling Nini and Grandpa and Bee! They'll get me another one."
"Maybe they will someday, and that's fine. But not today. That wand has probably already been sold to another little girl who doesn't throw toys in the car."

The crying continued. I told her no back-seat toys for one whole month -- until she's grown up a little bit and will not throw toys in the car. I threw in a "no movies" clause, too. At least for local trips to Burlington. She may work toward movies for the trip to New York this coming weekend...

When we went home, she sat in time-out and colored the wall in her bedroom. She admitted she did this on purpose because she was mad at me. She did it, while watching me, waiting for a reaction. Was this just one bad day, or am I doing something wrong here? Am I not giving her enough freedom, too much freedom? Am I a horrible mom? The mommy-guilt kicked in, over ONE bad day. We had a long talk about everything, and I told her that the main take-away from this time-out was, "No throwing toys in the car." We'll discuss/clean the walls later.

When Mark got home, I asked for just a few minutes of quiet. I crawled in my bed and put my head down. After Ellie destroyed my living room, she came in, crawled over me, and sat beside me. I told her that, I know it was a rough day, but that I wasn't mad at her. She hugged me and talked to me about it. I forget that, more than anything, her anger is about wanting my attention, my approval. I told her a million times that day, even when I was angry, that I love her. Mark brought her dinner in, and she fell asleep halfway through eating it. She slept all night.

I know this is all normal toddler stuff, but I ended my day feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, defeated, and it was enough to make me want to reclaim my apartment, my life, to restore some order in my home. It's time that Ellie grows up. BIG TIME. I've been babying her too much. She needs more structure in her afternoons, and more freedom to do tasks on her own. This is going to come naturally when I go back to work full time (next week, wow!), but we need to work toward some more predictability at home now. I don't mean some kind of militant schedule, just some expectations that she can count on. Step 1 for her is going to be potty training -- because she finally asked me if she can start wearing big girl underwear this morning! Yay!

Her day care teachers tell me that she loves being on a schedule, that she thrives on knowing what her special jobs are and doing them all by herself. So, we're going to start with some fun, simple tasks that she can do and help me with, some more order in our house beyond the chore chart. As usual, lots of time for fun and play, too, and more time for Mama to reclaim some sanity in the afternoons.

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