I’m tired tonight.
Sick of butting heads with my nearly 2 year old daughter. Exhausted from fighting the impulse to run into the other room and shut the door on the yelling and button pushing and tantruming and
deliberate provocation testing of boundaries.
Tired of being freezing cold in this stone building without (non-astronomically expensive) heating. It’s like being in a museum in Chicago in January…with the power out. It’s like being in a cave in Chicago in January. It’s like being inside my refrigerator in January. In Chicago.
My nose is cold. My legs are cold. I am wearing a long wool housecoat and I am huddled under a space heater and I am still cold.
Feeling frustrated by being strange. Stranger in a foreign country. Stranger to this community. Strange (in this culture) parenting practices. Strange that I am still nursing my 2 year old daughter. Strange I don’t want my kids to eat a ton of sugar. Strange to consider home school…I need my tribe. Where is my tribe? Oh, right. I moved across the ocean from them. Now, I know I can’t fit in everywhere, but to fit in nowhere is exhausting. Smile through the awkwardness. Smile through the frustration of being awkward.
Smile instead of call a friend (in another time zone and who should be sleeping but probably isn’t because she also has children) who will understand what I mean when I say I love to be a SAHM a crucial smidgen more than I hate it.
Laugh because I know that I don’t mean that. Really. I don’t. Do I?
Breathe a sigh of relief when my 23 month old daughter, at the end of our long day of clashes, refuses to get into the car and asks me to WALK HER HOME from a friend’s house. It’s cold. It’s dark. The back street is only partially paved and even less well lit. There are big, muddy, cold puddles. I will have to hold her the whole way. I will have to walk alone, my husband and son will take the car. YES, I tell her. Let’s walk. And so we walk, my steps and my breath and her small voice are the only sounds. She says, out of nowhere, “I’m safe in your arms.”
I love her endlessly. I hug her as we walk and tell her I love her and that I’m sorry we had a rough day. She says she was “sad” when we had a clash of wills earlier in the day. And there it is: we are talking about a problem. I tell her again that I love her so much. I feel a sense of importance hanging over our words and I hope she is soaking in the love as much as the frustration we experienced. The walk home was her olive branch, and mine to her.
And still tonight as she is fighting sleep, she manages to find a way to push my buttons…again.
Feeling guilty: for losing my cool every now and then. For craving 5 glorious minutes of uninterrupted email time. For craving a closed bathroom door and the ability to cry when I want to without 2 small people looking at me to make sure I am 100% ok at all times. Because I’m not. I’m lonely, I’m foreign, I’m a stranger, I’m tired, I’m selfish, I’m anxious and I’m in need of my yoga practice and my alone time and a good book with my feet up on pillows (hot tea beside my elbow not optional).
Before you think I’m either fishing for compliments or self-flagellating, let me assure you that I know the perfect mom doesn’t exist. We all do our best, and we all mess it up. “Perfect Mom” is the way good moms beat themselves up. But I am not 2 years old. How is it possible I have buttons that my 2 year old can push?
Fail again. Fail better.