Alec crawls lightning fast into the kitchen where I am making dinner. Pulls himself to standing using my pants. Waits until he has my full attention (which he usually gains by hooting and bouncing) then growls, attempts to zerbert me (through my pants) then takes off at the speed of light while laughing hysterically.
In a moment of flurried activity while trying to get out of the door, I was listing what we had and what we needed out loud. "Lily Ruth has shoes and a jacket. Mama has shoes and a jacket. Alec is not ready. What does Alec need?" From the other room I hear Lily Ruth "HUMPS!" "What!?" She bursts into the nursery and proclaims "Camel humps, Mama! Alec D needs CAMEL HUMPS!!!"
Oh MAN! I need these moments. I need to hold them close and pull them out when Alec is crying hysterically and pulling on my leg while I prepare lunch for Lily Ruth and try not to start crying myself or yell at my baby. For when Lily Ruth's eyes narrow and she loses the ability to back down or even just calm down. *sigh* It is REALLY hard to see your least favorite personal character traits reflected in someone you love so much.
As a four-almost-five-year-old, Lily Ruth's job is to catalog her world, interpret what she sees and find her place in it. It is essential that she find her boundaries and understand how firm or flexible that they are. This means that she is constantly pushing me. Constantly. She has almost stopped the tantrums, but has replaced them with subtle insurrection. Refusing to meet my eyes when I am giving her directions (that she then chooses not to follow). Not stopping a behavior immediately when told to (something she used to do every time). Repeating an infraction that she would normally have not returned to because of the consequences. Trying out her lying skills... Oi. I am not known for my patience, people.
Yesterday was a real challenge. Not just an every day challenge. In addition to some subtle pushing, she tried a fairly major power play. I was tidying the house in a pretty manic manner. Both kids were playing in Lily Ruth's room. Then there was screaming. From Alec. When I rounded the corner, Alec was hysterical and Lily Ruth was attempting to hide behind the guest bed. I scooped him up and asked her what happened. She claimed not to know. Then she claimed that he fell. Then she said that she was "just holding him like usual" but he slipped. She was miming standing up straight and holding him under the arms. Then her arms went limp. Crap. She is shooting up like a weed, and he is as heavy as a tank. She knows for a FACT that she is not allowed to pick him up. We have this discussion every. damn. day. as part of a reminder program that she is not in charge of the baby or the dog or the family... So there I am holding a freaked out baby and staring at a freaked out, defiant child. Where the hell is that fabled How To manual for parents when you need it? Why do I not ever feel like I know the right way to react? I'm guessing that verbally chastising the defiant one then banishing her to the indefinite Time Out while you nurse the bruised one is not the right choice...
You would think that injury to her favorite sibling would put the kibosh on further antics. I would think that. But it didn't. She went ahead and pushed forward with poor listening, some light lying and some serious whining when her friends left after an impromptu play date. *sigh*
You know, I've had two days of workshops this month (done hurriedly due to poor planning on my part...). After each day, I felt renewed and revitalized. Excited about my career (and eager to someday return to it) and so thrilled to be reunited with my babies after 6-8 hours apart. I felt determined to rejuvenate my parenting and bring joy back to what was becoming a slog. Then the reality of each day sets back in. The teething and the whining. Constantly fluctuating naps. Guilt that I don't have more energy and time for either of them after I'm done just trying to provide the basics (like food, clean clothes and naps).
We just have to make it through this part. Make it through with as much love and care as possible. Not all parts of parenting are as hard as the first year. Not all parts are as hard as the fourth year. Heck, not all parts are as hard as the forty-first year :-P
I can do this. I want to do this. And I really want to get it right. Hopefully that counts for something.