Thursday, March 27, 2008

i think i’ve hit a wall.

WARNING: long meandering ramble ahead. See the advisory to the left here? And the other one on my sidebar? Yes those. Well, not only will this post be wordy, but it also may not even make a whole lot of sense. But it's my blog. I'll do what I want. If you don’t like it, click Next Blog on the Navbar up there and see where you end up. Although I’m quite sure this blog is better than any of the next ten crazy things you might come across in Portuguese or Polish or some other language you don’t speak.


Moving on.

I’ve got so many thoughts vying for attention in my brain right now that I can’t seem to write anything. Hence the six or seven useless posts that have preceded this one. I must spit something out before my head explodes.

So let’s open the floodgates with a nice, confusing, uselessly pointless mama-angst ramble. Here goes:

When it comes to being at home with Csilla all day, I think I’ve hit a wall.

Maybe it’s just the long, rainy winter (without our usual trip to Hawaii), or maybe it’s a number of quarantine-inducing illnesses in a row, or maybe it’s just spring break (without preschool or yoga), or maybe it’s that I keep forgetting to take my Vitamin D, or maybe it’s a combination of all these things, but I am totally over looking after Csilla every day.

I am, quite simply, over it.

I’m sure that makes me sound like a monster, but I’m just getting this off my chest. I think I’ve earned some leeway here. I’m reasonably sure if you’ve read my blog before that you have a teeny tiny idea of how much I adore Csilla, so I’m giving myself the liberty to say what I’m about to say.

I totally and completely can’t be bothered to care for Csilla lately.

And I think it’s time I stopped beating myself up about it.

Spring will come, the weather will get nice again, and it will, once again be time to play in the garden and the sunshine all day. This winter can’t last forever. Can it?

I’m trying to be a great mom, with boundless enthusiasm for the care and upbringing of our daughter, but I’m just not sure it’s working anymore. The problem is, I’ve quite simply run out of creative ideas and I don’t know what to do with our three-year-old any longer. Especially indoors, on a rainy day. And instead of making the effort to do something with her, more often than not lately I’ve been letting Csilla languish in front of the television while I play away on the computer. I can practically hear her brain beginning to atrophy.

I know I wrote about this a few weeks ago, but it's still on my mind.

I actually wonder at times if Csilla would be better off going to daycare where there are people prepared and equipped to stimulate and entertain our daughter all day, while I go back to work and earn some money.

But. I know this is not a reasonable option, so I guess I have to figure out how to overcome my apathy.

With this problem in mind, I have been spending a lot of time a feeble amount of time surfing the web looking for great ideas on what to do with Csilla all day. I usually find one tidbit of information here, another tidbit there, but it’s taking me so much time to collect, compile, organize and sort through all of these tidbits that I’m not even interested in implementing them after doing all the work to find them.

I finally had the bright idea to let the information come to me. Last week I posted a cry for help on a Two Peas in a Bucket message board. I’ve never posted on a message board before in my life - strange considering I’m willing to write a blog, I know - but I finally did.

And wow. What a response I got.

The community of women who scrapbook is amazing and Two Peas is the web site where all of these creative, supportive and thoughtful women gather. Within minutes of posting my query - “What should I do with our three-year-old all day? Help!!!!” – I had fifteen or twenty replies filled with a fistful fabulous ideas on how to entertain a preschooler. By the end of the day I more than forty* messages; all of them containing wonderful, fun things to do with Csilla.

I guess all those exclamation marks worked!!!!

Excellent.

Now that I have a million great ideas I have no excuses, right?

Well.

Not so fast there chief.

It took me about five days to even read the posts let alone implement them.

Man! Am I ever lazy!!

Anyway, I finally read The Great Two Peas List of Grand Ideas and in the last couple of days I’ve pushed beyond my total lack of enthusiasm to try a few new activities with Csilla.

But.

Other than the enormous Oobleck success of three days ago, most of these activities have fallen flat on their super-exciting-awesome but messy and exhausting faces.

Take yesterday for example.

On the advice and insistence of my fellow Peas, I was determined to go outside with Csilla and get some fresh air. I usually don’t do this because, well, we live in Vancouver. And I don’t know if you’ve heard this or not, but it rains a lot here. A lot. Buckets full. All winter.

But yesterday, while we were eating lunch some sunshine actually made its way through our windows and into our home. Amazing.

Oh wait.

I feel like I should stop and defend Vancouver for a second. I’m always bashing Vancouver, but it’s only the winters here I dislike. The rest of the year, I love this place. It’s a well-kept secret that summertime in Vancouver could not be more perfect. We often go weeks and weeks on end without a drop of rain. And fall is even better. On a clear day, this place is the definition of perfection, beauty and all other things spectacular. We Vancouverites try to keep it a secret so this city doesn’t get invaded by a crazed bunch of Mongol hordes one day. So far so good. Sssshhhhhhh.

There. I did my duty to Vancouver.

Moving on.

Back to yesterday and going outside.

So there we were, in the throws of eating lunch and sunshine is streaming in the window. Of course it would be sunny when Csilla is strapped into her chair with food all over her face. Of course it would. And I’m trying to get Csilla to eat quicker because the weather around here changes faster than, um, oh, I don’t know… insert your own witty metaphor here. I’m fresh out today. Let’s just say the weather changes fast.

Hurry Csilla! Hurry! Finish your lunch so we can go outside and worship that big ball of fire in the sky for a minute or two.

Well, wouldn’t you know it? Csilla decided to eat e x t r a s l o w. I swear it was just to spite me. And then when we finally finished lunch, it took us almost one incredibly frustrating hour to get cleaned up and dressed warmly enough to head outside. Csilla, in typical three-year-old style, thought it was hilarious to sing and dance and jump and play while mama tried to convince her to put pants on. And socks. Two of them. And a shirt and a sweater and a jacket and the ten other things it’s necessary to wear outside when it’s cold.

And it really didn’t help that Csilla was “Little Miss I-Can-Do-It-Myself” yesterday either.

Oh. And it also really didn’t help that she has taken up growling at me when she doesn’t get her way. Yes, growling. Like a dog. It’s really quite ghastly and demoralizing.

So there I was, wrestling and grabbing and struggling while Csilla was dancing and growling and giggling with the words “I can do it myself” coming out of her mouth every two seconds for almost an entire an hour as I watched the light fade and the sun slowly stop streaming in the windows.

By the time we finally got outside, I was frustrated, exhausted and totally put out. And the sun was gone. And it was cold. And not particularly pleasant.

I took a few photos. Big whoop.

Here’s Csilla playing with a nice, cold pile of dirt (yes more pictures of Csilla’s hands. I’m sensing a theme here):



At this point, only a three-year-old could possibly look up at her mother and tell her with a straight face that her hands weren’t cold. I mean, my hands were clean and dry and yet they were completely freezing. Csilla’s hands must have been like ice cubes.

And as any parent will know, it’s a battle to get your kid to do just about anything, but it’s also a battle to get them to stop doing that thing they didn’t want to do in the first place.

So. After a big leaf collecting mission, a photography session, some digging in the mud and a hunt for the perfect piece of moss, we finally had another huge squabble over going inside again.

Interestingly, the minute we finally got inside it started to hail. Beauty. A huge thunder and lighting hail storm sent just to scare Csilla out of her wits.

Scorecard?
Csilla scared and dirty.
Mama frustrated and exhausted.

And it’s only three o’clock.

Thanks for the suggestion Peas, but next time I think we’ll stay inside.

And the story doesn’t end here.

(And just in case you didn't get the hint the first time, here it is again. This post is long, I know, but I’m writing to get it off my chest. There will be no prize at the end. I have no point. You were warned at the beginning. Proceed with caution.)

Despite the two hours of frustration it took to get outside and, well, do nothing but get dirty and tired, I was not going to give up. So I checked The Great Two Peas List of Grand Ideas for another suggestion.

How about this one? Let Csilla organize and sort stuff in your pantry. You know, group tin cans by size or colour. Whatever.

I thought to myself, “Hey! There’s at least another two hours to kill before Balazs gets home; maybe we should clean up the pantry. Yes! What a great idea Carolyn; that would kill some time. Our pantry shelves are sagging (nice problem to have, I know, considering most people in the world are starving – click here) and it could use a little reorganizing, so how about we make a game of it?!”

And that’s what we did.

But.

I think I got a little overzealous.

Yes, Csilla helped me unload our entire pantry. All of it. I probably should have started out small. Done a shelf at a time. That kind of thing.

It was fun at first, with Csilla sorting things into groups and piles, stacking and unstacking tin cans… you get the idea.

But.

I made two critical mistakes. First, I pulled a bag of mini-marshmallows out of the pantry right at the start, and; second, I overestimated the longevity of Csilla’s enthusiasm for this task.

Not too smart.

As I grabbed the marshmallows, Csilla’s eyes lit up. She loves marshmallows - or what she knows of marshmallows because she’s only had them about twice in her life - both times in hot chocolate after tobogganing – damn you winter!

So, stupidly I say, “I guess we’re not going to get past the marshmallows until I give you some, right?”

To which she squealed, “Yes mama!”

And because she’s so darn cute, I gave her a few. Again, that was my first mistake. Because Csilla is so smart and alarmly adept at using me against me, she quickly figured out that each time another sweet treat came about of the pantry, if she refused to move out of my way or continue to help unless I gave her some then she would get some.

Upon sight of the next sweet treat she would say, “I guess we’re not going to get past the chocolate Easter eggs until you give me some, right mama?”

Damn you Cadbury mini eggs with your hard outer shell and your yummy melt-in-the-mouth chocolate perfection center! I couldn’t resist giving her a few of these too, but only because I wanted some so badly for myself. And Csilla is so rarely allowed to eat sweet treats that I thought, “Oh gee. What could it hurt?”

Another stupid thought that ran through my head yesterday.

And so this is how the whole pantry re-organization went:

Csilla helped unload everything. Everything. All-the-while sampling a few sweet treats as each came out. And just when the entire contents of our pantry was scattered all over the floor, Csilla got bored with the task. And a little hyper. And thought it would be fun to start opening stuff and sampling from each of the packages. And then thought it would be fun to bounce around me like a Mexican jumping bean as I tried to re-organize and re-load the pantry. And then thought it would be helpful to pull and tug at me and tell me that she wanted to do something else. And then when I ignored her in the hopes of at least getting all the glass bottles of sticky gooey sauces back into the pantry before they got broken, she thought it would be especially funny to open a couple of Baby Mum Mum crackers and do a little dance on top of them; grinding them into the carpet and tracking them all over the house in the process as she ran around giggling and screaming as only a kid hopped up on sugar can do.

And that was the last straw. Baby Mum Mums ground into the carpet. I don’t know why, but I freaked out. Freaked out.

I actually yelled at Csilla.

I never yell at Csilla. Never.

(Okay, well maybe once or twice before, but never on any sort of regular basis).

I screamed at her to go and entertain herself for just one blessed minute of the entire day. I yelled at her to go and play with her godforsaken toys that we spent a fortune on, but she never plays with, and only serve the purpose of causing repeated foot injuries to everyone who lives in this house.

I yelled these things at her.

And then I pulled out her Aquadoodle and practically threw it at her. (I didn't really. Don't call the cops. It's called hyperbole my friends.) I told Csilla she had to play with the Aquadoodle or else Mama was really going to lose it.

Needless to say, I shocked the sugar right out of her and she played quietly with the Aquadoodle until I finished putting everything back in the pantry and Dysoned up the Mum Mums.

And then I apologized to her for yelling.
And then we kissed and made up.
And this morning she seems to still love me.

And that’s really the end of my story. There’s no real point here. I’m just a little at the end of my rope. And that was just yesterday.

Actually, I suppose there is a little bit of a point to this story. A ‘moral’ if you will.

When Balazs got home I told him about our day. I started by telling him about how frustrated I was trying to get Csilla dressed to go outside and how it seemed pointless to try and go outside at all. And as I was telling Balazs about the wrestling match I had with Csilla over her pants, she chimed in and took over the story.

Only her version was a lot different than mine.

In Csilla’s version of the story, we were giggling and laughing and hopping around with both legs down one leg of her pants and she was dancing and I was the kissing-hugging-monster and she had to fight me off by kissing and hugging me back and…

"…it was really funny daddy!"

Hmmm.

Let me get this straight.

The whole time I was frustrated out of my skull because our daughter was not cooperating with me, she was having the time of her life playing with her Mama?

Interesting.

Maybe I was just looking at it all wrong.

Maybe I need to stop struggling so much.

Maybe I should just be me and have fun and stop trying to so hard to be “the perfect mom” with routines and schedules and a day filled with just the right quantity and quality of stimulating activities.

Maybe I need to do each day to the best of my ability and stop worrying about the ten thousand moms on Two Peas who have a million creative and interesting things prepared for their kids to do every day, all labelled and categorized in pretty little binders, including gosh-darn-it, going outside for some fresh air, rain or shine.

Maybe I need to lighten up and enjoy the ride a little.

Interesting.

Maybe I did have a point after all.

* I’ve been dying to share this tidbit of information about the number forty since I found it: The letters of the word "forty" are in alphabetical order; this is the only number that has this linguistic property in English.

10 comments:

jennifer h said...

See, there was a prize for us at the end!

I doubt there's a mother out there who doesn't know, to the exact detail, what these days feel like. They can suck the life out of you, to the point that eventually, you just don't care. Not every day can, or should be, spectacular. But it's so interesting how differently Csilla perceived the day than you did.

It's a very good lesson, and one I need to keep learning.

Carolyn said...

Wow Jennifer. I'm seriously impressed you read far enough to get the prize. I didn't think anyone would. You, um, deserve a prize for that.

softinthehead said...

Ah Carolyn I must admit its all a while ago now as even my youngest is 15 but I took a much more relaxed attitude to dragging my kids up, and we are talking back in the day before all day kids TV and computer games. Most of the time I encouraged them to amuse themselves!! I do remember playdough sessions and painting but to be honest I kept those as a rare treat, the carpet couldn't take it. Relax and enjoy it more.. like Csilla is - she'll be 27 before you know it!! :) Whatever don't feel guilty - as long as she is happy, fairly clean, fed regularly and warm your doing just fine.

Jan said...

Carolyn- I heard once that the worst thing we could do for our kids was to be the perfect parent.

I totally remember those l.o.n.g. winter days. It is very frustrating at times. I think your right to maybe look at it all in a different way like Csilla did.

We are always way to hard on ourselves thinking it has to be just so or we are failing miserably in some way. Its just not true. Your spending time with your child and it will pay off big time.

It just seems like you need a break. Can your husband take her somewhere after work or for a Saturday? Do you have any other Moms with kids Csillas age that your could trade with every once in awhile? You need some quality mom time. At least when I am feeling those same frustrating things, I usually need some me time.

I wish I lived closer, I would come and tell you to get lost and I would entertain her for awhile.

Way to go and get it all off of your chest. I do hope you feel better. Bye ya.

Kimberly said...

The day you described? That is my -life-. This post hit home hugely...definitely worth reading the entirety of it.

And thanks for being brave enough to write it. It helps soooo much not to feel alone in that hitting the wall feeling.

I had a happy day today. Reason? Got out of the house. Half the day taken up by running errands and community playgroup. If it weren't for that, it would've been more movies and mayhem.

And cadbury mini eggs too. Oh my yes.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

What a fantastically well written piece that was humerous and highly entertaining. You completely communicated the tedium of looking after a three year old on those days when you would gladly open the front door, leave and never come back. You are the most amazing writer to be able to make something so tricky to write about and make it into a piece worthy of a high end magazine article. Get that sent out and make a few bob! Then you can book yourself a massage and let the stress run free!

Brilliant - you are a gifted writer.

KAREN said...

I agree with mob, above. Very gifted. I couldn't have put it better myself.
Mine are older now, but I remember those days well. I worked part-time to save my sanity!

Jen said...

I SO needed this post! I'm totally the same way with my daughter. She's almost 3 and I swear have to constantly be entertaining her, but lately (like as in right now) she's in front of the TV, which I despise. Not that I hate the TV, I hate that I'm not creative enough to think of FUN things to do with her. I hate that I feel all this pressure to be the perfect mom and have a scheduled out fun day with this or that activity. I don't know how so many women do it. I feel horrible that she's in watching TV, meanwhile my baby is screaming his guts out and what do I do? Come to the computer to try to SHUT it all out. I need a moment to gather my thoughts, take a deep breath and try to dive back into it all. I need to take to heart what you pointed out at the end of this post and see that my daughter only wishes to have fun with me and have the one on one attention no matter how frustrating it may be to me when she's running around doing the complete opposite of what I've asked. I need to be more of a mom that goes with the flow, but then I find myself feeling bad when I do. I feel bad that I didn't try and start this or that "cool idea" for a project I got. I feel lame for not stimulating my toddler with fresh new ideas/projects/games. I need to take her outside more as per so many suggestions I get from others to do so. Shoot, now I can't remember what I've written and the screaming of my baby is making it so I can't think straight. Maybe I should go and try to not be a perfect mom, but at least do my best at being a good mom.

Just know that this post could've been written by me (barring the whit and incredible sense of humor you have as I'm just not as creative and funny as you) as it describes my feelings of motherhood to a T! I'm always trying to do this or that and fall short and as I try to "go outside" or do something crafty, it never goes as planned and I get extremely frustrated. I need to relax and not worry so much about being the perfect mom and focus more on just doing my best.

I need one of your blogger advisory buttons here in my comment huh? I guess I should just post about this. . . LOL!

Thanks for this post. It's so good to know I'm not the only one that feels the way I do especially when it comes to feeling I've hit a wall and am going to go crazy trying to be the perfect mom.

I think I'll have some cadbury mini chocolate eggs now. . . . CRAP, my toddler ate them all ;)

Carolyn said...

Hey All. I'm not very good about replying to comments, but since you all read that horrendously long post, you probably deserve a reply.

Soft - I agree, as you will see from my next post. I do need to lighten up. I'm taking your advice to heart. Thanks.

Jan - Thanks to you as well. Your words are always so well timed and thoughful. I feel much better both from getting this post off my chest by writing it and from reading the lovely comments that everyone has left. As usual, I appreciate you. Oh, and I wish you lived closer too, but not just so you could babysit!

Kim - I'm glad this post was what you needed to hear. I feel really good knowing that by writing about my frustrations I might somehow be helping another mom like me. Oh... and I had some time out of the house recently too. It did wonders for my spirit.

MOB - Thanks so much. I could write a whole post about how good this comment made me feel. It is only very recently in my life that I discovered my love for writing. It's totally new for me. Anyway, I could really write a whole post. Just, thanks.

Karen - Thanks for joining the fray. Glad you could make it. I appreciate your kind comments.

Jen - Well I guess a novel-length post like mine deserves a novel-length comment like yours. You get the prize! In all seriousness though, thanks for sharing your feelings. This is exactly what I was hoping for when I wrote this post. It really changes things when you know you are not alone. Be sure to check out the Two Peas message board post I mentioned. There are lots of great ideas there in case you find inspiration. Not all of them will fall on their faces! Oh, and I notice we're often both up WAY past our bedtimes. Perhaps a little more sleep would make us both a little more inspired? No judgment coming from here... just a thought? ;-)

Vila said...

Well said.