As I started to write this, I have been reminded that this month it is one year since I started blogging. My first ever blogpost was called ‘Tantrum Tribulations’, describing my absolute despair at one of Reuben’s first public tantrums. Oh, how naïve. That tantrum was a walk in the park. This evening I hit a wall with Reuben’s behaviour and I seem to have come full circle. Here I am, one year later, being reminded why I started blogging in the first place. Right now I am sitting down to write, not because I have an idea and have been trying/failing to get a chance all week, but purely because I need to write. I need to vent. I need to process my thoughts. It’s either this or I go to bed with a box of chocolates and eat until I fall asleep. Then I wake up feeling nauseous from gluttony and that same bewildered mother feeling from the night before.
Reuben just went to bed (definitely not with chocolates) and I am trying my darndest not to cry. Partly because if I cry, I will admit true defeat. But mostly because I don’t know why I have this lump in my throat in the first place. It’s a strange mixture of hot and frustrated tears, along with gut-wrenching-guilty tears, topped off with a hint of soft-heartedly-upset and overwhelmed tears. I am exhausted from trying to hold my own against Reuben’s crazy strong will, and my pride is hurt from losing the battle on more than one occasion. And that’s before I mention the blood seeping out of my chin where he scrabbed me (my laptop didn’t recognise the word scrabbed so I added it to the dictionary as I’m guessing I’ll probably need it for blogging in the future). Seriously, the blood is a-gushing. It looks like I burst a massive teenage spot. I’m not sure whether that looks better or worse than the reality of being scrabbed by a vicious 2 year old.
For a parent, disciplining children is a discipline in itself. I quite often have to force myself to follow through with a punishment or not to brush over the behaviour because he’s having an ‘off’ day. The cold hard truth is sometimes toddlers don’t have ‘off’ days. They just have ‘brat’ days. Defiant little brat days. Days where they scream. Days where they scrab. Days where you plead with them not to run out of the shop onto the road, and they look you in the eye and run anyway. Days where you have to abandon all your bags of groceries (even though your fridge consists of one onion and a bottle of fanta) and sprint for the road to stop your Olympic runner of a child from getting run over. Days where all of South Belfast can hear your pleading with your 2 year old to stop throwing a tantrum and get in the car. Days where you realise your 2 year old is in fact too strong for you to even scoop up and carry to the car, so you consider joining the gym but realise you don’t have time because of said 2 year old. Today I followed through with every threat, only for him to seem repentant, but misbehave again 20 mins later. Even as I explained why I had to discipline him and how much I love him, he shrugged and threw a toy car at me.
I am more devastated because I don’t want to dislike this part of his character. He is sweet. He is kind. He is loving. He is not the bully in the playground (even thought his behaviour at crèche may suggest otherwise sometimes).
Reubs ended up going to bed early with no dummy, no Dalmatians, no bed time cup of tea, no story, and absolutely no remorse. As he asked me to pray as normal, I just crumbled. Why is he acting normal? Why isn’t he sorry? Why hasn’t he learnt any lesson whatsoever? What am I doing wrong? Why is this affecting me so much? Why am I not stronger? … Am I failing?
In the time it has taken me to write this, he has fallen asleep perfectly, as if it were a normal evening. As if I hadn’t spent 5 hours straight disciplining him repeatedly. I have a habit of making these tantrum stories seem funny when I tell them in hindsight. The truth is in that moment, I don’t find them funny at all. I don’t find it funny that I have bite marks on my arm. I don’t find it funny that I struggle so much. I don’t find it funny that I hated the time I spent with my son this evening. I don’t find it funny that more often than I care to admit, I come home from a day at uni to spend the evening battling with this wild boy, and then spend his sleeping hours scrubbing a house that I can’t seem to keep clean, to then crumble onto my bed in the early hours of the morning crying and asking God why I can’t seem to find my feet.
I think the reason that it’s so hard is because I try so hard. I don’t mean to sound simple, but it’s my truth. Motherhood is the single most important impact I will ever have, and boy do I want to do it well. It is a gift. A gift I am not worthy of, yet I have been trusted with this tiny human. This wonderful tiny human who I love to pieces… even though I want to scream at every single piece. I might regret writing this tomorrow when I look at his beautiful morning face and everything seems okay again. But for now, I am glad I have been honest... with you, and with myself. I’m glad I didn’t hold it all in and get in a bad mood. And I’m glad I still have that box of chocolates to get me through the next hour of cleaning half-eaten fish fingers off the furniture and washing 78436488237502 dishes that I have left all week because I keep falling asleep on the sofa mid-clean.