The holiday cards are rolling in, and they are my favorite part of Christmas. I love seeing each family's personality reflected in their cards and pictures. I have noticed that they have gotten very elaborate this year. Half our cards were fold outs with multiple pictures of each children from trips to Hawaii and Disneyland and all manner of adorable poses. It reminds me of the saying that parenting is a competitive sport.
And, you know what, I am sort of sick of it. I am sick of measuring myself and my kids against whatever random measuring stick is laying around at the time. I really just want to be kind to my kids and do my best. I guess we'll also get them a good education and some fresh air, but really, I just don't know if I can also eat locally, and get special music tutors, and expose them to the arts and wind farms and worm composting. It's also really hard to be continually nice and kind to a demanding 2-year old who wants her milk cold. No hot. No colder. No, how about juice? Maybe water? Only if it has ice. Two ice cubs, Mommy. Wait, it's too cold. I want an orange. And some macaroni and cheese. And a pear. And 3 figs. And a date. Here, hold my pit. No, Daddy should hold the pit. Mommy, you should get me some artisanal pickles to go with my grilled cheese and my macaroni and cheese.
Are you kidding me that I have to be nice and obsequious to my toddler when she acts like this? And, if you are reading this, don't assume she was using her nice, cute, innocent little kid voice. Assume she was screaming and petulant and angry and surly and coy-- all at the same time. I find myself in those moments wanting to scream my head off. I hear messages that I should be patient and treat her with respect because, after all, she's a little person. The thing is that she doesn't act like a little person. She acts like a little tyrant going through withdrawal from caffeine and having just endured a breakup and a layoff. The drama is high and so is the pitch and the volume. I know I am the parent. I know I chose to have a child who was one day going to be 2 and have to learn autonomy. But, God lord, expecting myself to show up for all of it with nothing but a serene smile and an endless repertoire of cheese-based dishes is too much.
It's just too much.
No more expectations that dealing with this is supposed to be fun or easy or intuitive. If I did what was intuitive, I would lay down on the kitchen floor and beg her for mercy or just to shut up for 5 minutes while I tell her all the reasons why her life is 45 flavors of totally awesome. Then, I would remind her that she asks me for frozen yogurt and figs every single day and has yet to digest either. Ever. So, no, she can't have either one and she's going to get a beverage in the temperature of MY choosing and she's going to drink it, like it, and be well hydrated. I haven't done this. I have stood there stupidly wondering what is wrong with me that the yelling grates on my nerves and pushes my buttons.
Nothing is wrong with me. I am human. 2 year olds are doing something wonderful and hard; so are their parents.
So I am going to be nice and kind and keep the expectations a little more realistic.