I came home to my normal life from our anniversary getaway and wondered how on earth anybody does this.
Before I begin, I know my mom is going to read this, so first of all, mom, you know how I feel about you and this is not reflective of you doing anything wrong; rather, this is more about the grandma’s right to spoil her grandchildren.
Getting away without the kids was fabulous. There was peace. There was quiet. I even read for fun, instead of all the non-fiction how-to parent stuff. But after being home from our trip for about 15 minutes, I realized my life is consumed by constant, loud noise: Eliza singing her ABC’s on repeat; Zach screaming at the top of his lungs to get my attention, clenching his fists by his side like he just kicked the winning soccer goal in the European Cup; Eliza tapping on me in mid-conversation, saying, “Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy – look at me!”; me asking her to give me a few minutes to talk to Omi (grandma); Zach crying because Eliza took away his car while singing her ABCs; Eliza switching to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” because I asked her to sing something different (funny – different words, but same, darned tune).
Unless they are sleeping, there is always noise. And if there isn’t any noise while they’re awake, then there is trouble. You can’t win.
The contrast is stark between the quiet of an adult-filled lake house and the ear-damaging loudness of my kid-filled house. It was amazing to realize just how much ambiance I hear on a daily basis. But there was something else. I also realized the kids were tired and more used to getting what they wanted when they wanted it. There were more whining demands and tantrums. It has been tough adjusting.
I’ve tried to embark on a re-training schedule. Even today, Eliza whined to me that she wanted to go downstairs to play with her kitchen, so I turned off the TV and starting to go with her, and then she threw a fit about wanting to finish what was on TV. In that moment, I felt like a puppet, and instead of caving into her antics, I picked her up, took her to bed, and told her it was nap time. Her tantrum got worse, turning into one of those times she could barely get her words out amid her tears and gasps for air. I kept my cool and didn’t budge, and she realized her efforts were futile. I walked away. She fell asleep. Which is exactly what she needed.
I read one mom’s perspective today that when her kids were little, she could never get enough sleep. And when they were toddlers, she never had enough patience. It’s so true. Although I still don’t get enough sleep, patience is really what rearing toddlers and pre-schoolers requires. I am a broken record of behavior correction and modeling. Sometimes I am dumbfounded by how many times both Zach and Eliza will test whether I mean what I say. And since grandma came, I’ve had a lot more testing.
But our trip was still worth it. We’re getting back to normal, little by little (which is to say a place that still requires vast vats of patience). It is really hard, but it is also really awesome. And at least today, I know I can do this.