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Rollercoasters are NOT for me! I have motion sickness. I don’t do rollercoasters. The one time I tried to survive a rollercoaster was the American Eagle at Six Flags Chicago. It did not end well, though my friends were likely glad the unwell ending waited until I made it to a bathroom. So, you see, no rollercoasters for me.
I’d like to apply that rule to life in general. I am not a fan of drastic ups and downs. It seems the era of toddlerhood is ripe with them, though. We have our absolutely joyful, beautiful moments where “we’re having fun,” as Li’l G likes to exclaim, and then comes the tantrum…when mom says we have to stop having fun and go do something else, like take a nap, or change a diaper, or eat some food, or drink some water, or turn off the television, or change our clothes, or … well, you get the idea.
I am perfectly okay with being mean mom.
I really think one day I will simply just embrace that persona. While I embrace the fact that I will need to be mean mom, I actually really hate being mean mom ALL THE TIME. Yesterday was just one of those days, minus the trip to Target. For the trip they were pretty much excellent. The rest of the day was a battle of wills, which mostly ensured a total whine and scream factory. I prefer wine and cheese if we must (or chocolate, but I fast from sweets on Wednesdays).
Listen, I’ve got the coursework under my belt. I know Mr. Erickson says this is a time where she will be discovering her autonomy. I get it, I celebrate it! I LOVE watching her figure things out and start to make decisions for herself. Most of the time I try to give her choices that we can both live with so that she can make more of her own decisions. Some things are non-negotiables, though. No, you may not feed your brother things off the floor. No, you may not chase the cat. No, you may not watch 24 hours of Veggie Tales today. Yes, you do have to take a nap, or we’re back to the whine factory permanently for hours in the evening. Yes, you do have to eat. No, you may not throw your lunch on the floor. Yes, you do need to change your diaper or sit on the toilet.
On the other hand, in some things I am learning to pick my battles. You want to put on a new pair of socks over the ones you put on this morning? Go ahead! You want to keep taking your shoes off and putting them back on? Have a ball! You want to peel the stickers off the refrigerator (that likely shouldn’t have been stuck on there anyway)? Yes, please! You want to eat the Cheerios off the vacuumed floor? Yeah, why not. You want to peel your flower decals off your wall? Go for it – I want to put a mirror there eventually anyway.
However, when we go from “fun!” to “NOOOOO! AHHHH!!!” what seems like every ten minutes, mommy needs some pills for motion sickness. Add to this that the baby is teething and sticking his finger in his mouth gagging himself several times a day, and that makes for a lovely cycle of madness. Throw in a cat that WILL NOT SHUT UP, and seriously, I begin to get paranoid and watch for the men in the white coats.
I can take the defiant “no” all the live long day, actually. I can stay calm and reiterate what it is she needs to do, or find something to distract her, all while raising an eyebrow and look of disapproval so she is clear that her tone is not acceptable. Oh, yes, I inherited that “look” from my mother. I can even send a few friends into bowed heads of shame with that look. Even at two, the kid knows what it means – the tears usually start to well if she hasn’t turned on the screaming. Oh, the screaming. It is my nails on chalkboard, and I don’t know how to get it to take a permanent vacation. Oh how I wish it would. How I wish the screaming would take a permanent vacation to a galaxy far, far away, or a magical ocean adventure 20,000 leagues under the sea. Yet, it remains a visitor in our toddler regimen for now. Every now and then, I allow one primal scream from her in exchange for no more screaming. My success rate is questionable. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. I just want it gone.
I’m hoping that if I survive this phase, that the teenage years will be a breeze. My mother loves to tell everyone that I never went through the terrible twos and threes, but that when I turned fifteen I gave her all her grey hairs. Recently she’s dropped the age to thirteen, which I will contest. Perhaps I will get the opposite experience. Quite frankly, I’d rather suffer through at two and three where the consequences are minimal and the greatest sacrifice is my sanity. The weather is nicer, so I can take them outside for fresh air and kind of open spaces. Though the eventual need to come inside will undoubtedly elicit objection and make me wonder if Calgon really does take it all away. Perhaps I need to invest in a “must be 4’ tall to ride” sign to keep her off the rollercoaster.
Days like that make me feel like a fraud. I do not enjoy my children those days on the whole, and that makes me feel guilty. I know that years from now I will miss this age. There is so much discovery, so much joy. Yet days of rollercoaster rides drain me of joy and peace. My responses are less than holy, especially once the cat joins in the mix. After a certain amount of up and down, I find myself just shutting down. I begin to choose not to rebound and try again. By bedtime, I just want to send in my resignation letter and go on a long vacation. I feel guilty because this does not reveal who Christ is to my children. I should be able to maintain peace in my heart even when they are sending me on a rollercoaster ride of epic proportions. Sure, I may need to throw up, but I should remain steady. Yet I don’t. I let the waves overcome me, especially when they are aided by hormones (you know what I’m talking about – don’t pretend you don’t!).
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I suppose the only thing to do is to keep trying. Dust myself off, put on my mama pants and keep fighting the good fight, while finding some motion-sickness medication, whatever that might be (fresh air, prayer, chocolate, perhaps not in that order?). I have to remember that there are still the moments of sheer joy even on the crazy ride, much like the rush of the rollercoaster. It’s just that the overall experience makes me woozy. Perhaps I need to remember to take pictures (mental and actual) of the rush, so I can remind myself at the end of the day that despite the aftershock, the whole experience wasn’t all that bad, despite my desire to run to the bathroom.
What have you found that works to calm tantrums and maintain sanity?