It seems like I only write about parenting now when the hard parts come up. And we are in a HARD part. We have recently entered what I am finding to be my least favorite phase of parenting so far, the world of AUTONOMY. And, oh god, I might not make it through.
I forget sometimes that we are still 'new' parents, that we have never tackled any of these phases before. I become lulled into complacency, almost believing that I actually know what I am doing. The last few months, despite all the changes, have been good ones. Consistent, let's say, all things running according to schedule. Some challenges, but fun and what I came to think of as easy. Then BAM! Hi, AUTONOMY. I think I do not like you very much. Can you go away?
I know I should be happy about their growth, their development, their changes. I have never wished them to be back in diapers (until now) so why would I wish them back to pre-verbal toddlerhood? Well, because this is so damn hard.
What does AUTONOMY look like around here. Let's start with language. The word 'me' 'mine' 'my ____' is a solid and often used word from both boys, leading to the inevitable clash of wills between them and myself. Sharing happens reluctantly, if at all, most times resulting in a total removal of the contested item and the tried but rarely true attempt at distraction and redirection. They have gotten a bit sharp for those tactics.
We can now move onto to AUTONOMY in clothing choices. I have waited for the day when favorite shirts or ensembles develop.
Yes, they love their new "bombits' outfits but what they love even more is getting undressed. Their current specialty is diaper removal. We have invited the boys to use their minimal potty skills when ever possible. Something clicked in the last few weeks and they now want to utilize these skills whenever possible. They are able to tell us when they have to pee, but they prefer to literally take matters into their own hands and remove the offending diaper and pee. They each have their favorite areas...Mace prefers the conventional ones, toilet and potty chair.
Owen is a little more free in his choices, usually removing diaper and peeing in the cracks between the flagstones outside, sometimes utilizing the deep wells in the outdoor mat situated outside the patio door and occasionally just peeing right next to the diaper he just removed. It has served to create a sky-rocketing diaper bill and a lot of work for the parent on duty to monitor and clean up (or direct the cleaning) of spills. Let us not talk about poop. It is too painful to write. I can say, at least they do not play with it. It looks like we will be turning to potty training in earnest earlier than I thought.
The there is AUTONOMY in food. No, not the eating of. That I have just about given up on. I am talking about the preparing of. My children think they can prepare and serve their own meals.
They have an obsession with the fridge, opening it and grabbing this and that, usually raw eggs and pickles (WTF?) and sometimes what they refer to as "mama bottle" aka wine. I am all for independence, but really, not ready for them to make the Mac n' Cheese. Waaaay too messy, oh yeah, and the stove might be a bit too hot. So, we may have to resort to a fridge lock which will just get broken or never latched as 90 million people go in and out of the fridge daily. Including my children. I shudder to think of the electricity usage this is causing.
The last and latest expression of AUTONOMY is one I know a lot of other twin Mamas are dealing with right now...the ability to escape. The boys still sleep in cribs and though they can scale a full size jungle gym have yet to express a desire to climb out of their cribs. That has all changed drastically. Saturday, it was a rude surprise to be woken up by Owen at the foot of our bed. Because it is not enough to figure out how to get out of the crib in one day, he also had to figure out the way to open the doors. At 6:30 AM. Upon walking him back to their room, I found the cribs pulled together, Mace in Owen's crib, all the bedsheets and linens piled on the floor and two maniacally grinning boys. Who would not go back to sleep.
Next day there were some night time shenanigans, but no escaping. Monday was the real shocker. We put them down and had the all clear signal of quiet in the room...so we began our nightly routine. I was in the laundry room (across the hall from their bedroom) when their door quietly opened and he walked out into the brightly lit hallway, mouth agape. As was mine. Because we have never taken those boys out of their room after bed time since bed time was established. Tim and I think Owen must have come out and thought "You mean they do stuff after we have to go in there and sleep?". My mouth was open because I was thinking "Oh, shit."
The last few bed times have been rough, with a lot of returning Owen to the room, explaining bed time parameters (like, you do not come out of your room) and going in to take him out of Mace's crib, to take his leg out of the crib slats, to pick him up off the floor, etc. I know, the beds are being converted today or tomorrow. But I am just so tired. In a totally different way then ever before.
Because all this happens as we work, and take shifts, and piecemeal days and dinners together and try to take care of ourselves, and try to decide how to deal with insurrection and ineffective time outs and defiance and the occasional urge to knock my kid out because he is driving me nuts. I know that we have such a profound effect on them with how we respond and what we say and when we yell.
I love parts of AUTONOMY but other parts I hate. I struggle with letting go of the need to dictate, of finding the right way to discipline and of looking for ways to enjoy it, even it is just shreds or bits of the day.
My Dad said an interesting thing the other day, about how throughout our lives we are learning the same lesson over and over. We think it is a new challenge, but it is actually the same foible, the same struggle, the same character 'flaw' in different settings. I know what mine is...learning humility. And I have yet to learn it well. But at least I can try to process it all here.
There are probably some of you reading thinking "just you wait..." or parents with younger kids thinking it cannot be that bad or others with no kids feeling pretty bored right now. It is just that when I end up beleaguered and bewildered I turn here. To get it out, to ask for help or suggestions or just so one or two of you can tell me it will be okay...and that helps immensely. So, bring on any ideas or suggestions or comment love. This Mama could use it. Thanks for the ear (or reading eyes, rather). I needed to get a bit of this off the chest.
And of course I only have sweetly cute photos to go with my bitching post....it seems I also do not tend to turn to the camera during times of screaming tantrums and I cannot post the hilarious photos of O in down dog butt naked. Though that might get my blog traffic up. hmmmmmm.