My career as a stay at home mom has been governed, for the most part, by two phases.   A sucky phase, and then a good phase, and I am grateful for the good, I am, but sometimes it is very difficult to remember that the sucky parts end and that things will get better, even though they always do.

Because let’s just say that we’re currently in a down phase.

I always know when these dips occur because they are marked by the amount of child rearing books I have on hold at the library, and at this current time I have four reserved, although unfortunately I wasn’t able to find a copy of anything entitled “Your Four Year Old:  A Tremendous Asshole”, because honestly, that’s the book we need.  Must be out of print or something.

The other hallmark of these less than treasured times is that I find myself thinking, a million times a day “I can’t do this. No one could do this.  I can’t do this, and more importantly, I don’t want to do this. In fact, I hate this.  I shall have to get a job.”  And by the time I figure out where to print out a Starbucks application, my kids have toned down the wretchedness, and inevitably I find myself thinking “I am getting away with the greatest con on earth! This is so fun, being a mom!”

But right now, we’re in the Starbucks application stage of things.

I am sure I sound like the most ungrateful jerk in the world.  Feel free to think I am the most ungrateful jerk in the world.  But besides the 4 year old, who SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS THE COMPLETE BIG ONE, I also kind of hate this age of baby.  Katie Dubs is a delightful child but the fact remains that she is into everything, at every moment, and my capacity for wiping oatmeal and peanut butter and snot and god knows what off of every single surface in my house is running thin.  All day long all I do is pick up shit that my children have strewn all over my house (sometimes literally), and I am exhausted all the time, and at the end of the day, I’m no closer to a clean house than I was at the beginning of the day.  I live with a miniature tornado and a total asshole, and they both get up at 6 am, and I, I don’t know.  It’s the pits, basically, and I just thought I’d complain for a minute, you know?

The most infuriating thing is that sometimes you get this little glimpse, this little break in the clouds, and then you just want it back, and you don’t know how to get it back, and it’s such a bummer.  Yesterday Eli was LOSING HIS MIND as is his usual default mode these days and Erik gave up and put him down for a nap.  We try this almost every day and it NEVER WORKS, he never falls asleep, but somehow yesterday he did and when he woke up three hours later, it was like a miracle or something.  The awesome kid that I am such a fan of had returned.  He was funny and interesting and man, I am crazy about that kid! We hung and talked and had a grand old time, and at some point it felt almost as though I was taking a deep breath, and it made me realize that most of the time, I’m on eggshells around this kid, just waiting for the outburst, the next insult, the next tantrum, the next time out, and I hate that. I hate being terrorized by my own child, but even though I have hopes that the fact that sometimes he is SO great means that someday he’ll be SO great all the time, I have no idea how to get to that stage.  We try for naps and it doesn’t work and we read books and we try for individual attention and we try so many things and right now he just plain sucks, and Christ Almighty am I ever sick of it.

It will get better, I know it will.  And also someday I will not be on a diet where I eat nothing but lose no weight.  Some day I will not wonder if I can make it to five o’clock without running from my house screaming.  Some day my house will be clean because my kids will be gone and I will wish desperately for the return of the asshole and the tornado.  I will reminisce weepily about the peanut butter on the light switches.

But today? Today is not that day.


25 Responses

  1. If it helps, I have ALL of that plus a full-time out-of-the-house job. I spent all day today home with a one-year old with tonsillitis who wanted to go between snuggling to throwing toys everywhere and then to screaming. And then the almost-four year old came home and made a huge mess out of all the toys I had organized and found all the parts to and put away in their appropriate bins.

    And the head, it pounds.

    Good luck! And if you find that book, could you mail it to me when you’re done?

  2. Dude. It’s no fun to be where you are. No fun at all. I wish I could press a button on that invisible neck collar he wears and he’dimmediately fall asleep at nap time. Like a shock collar of sorts! A well-rested kid is the such coolest! Too bad I can never manage to make that happen. I agree, 6am IS FOR THE BIRDS.

    Just think, in less than 4 weeks, it WILL NOT BE YOUR PROBLEM for FOUR DAYS. Ahhhhhhh.

  3. I can’t write or spell either. GAH.

  4. Holy crap I could have written this.

    I don’t like my kids all that much lately and I’ve been feeling horrifically guilty about it but now that I know I’m not alone and maaaybe this might be normal I’m feeling a bit better. But seriously. I’m looking into boarding schools for my 3 1/2 year old and some kind of large wire cage for my 18 month old.

    My friend recently shared an article on her blog about how, if you’ve got kids between birth and age 5, then you’re in “the tunnel.” And things are way better when you get out of that tunnel. I’ve been digging but haven’t been able to find it again. I’ll email her to see if she can send it to me again and I’ll pass on the link. It made me feel like there’s a light someday, ya know?


  5. I have always said that my million dollar idea is to start boarding schools for toddlers. Motto: “We’ll deal with them so that you don’t have to.” And then, I will hire other people to deal with them and just oversee things from behind some soundproof glass.

  6. She’s speedy! Here’s the article I was talking about-

    • Thanks Kayla! Moxie said this same thing the other day and I am clinging to it like a life raft. It gets better! It gets better!

  7. I know! I KNOW! I don’t know if that helps at all but jesus h christ, I get it!

  8. I would have bought that book.

    Being home, in these “tunnel” years, is seriously hard. It’s a rollercoaster, one that you have no control over the ups and downs and that’s enough to drive the sanest person crazy.

    My now five year old was horrible for about a year from 3.5-4.5. I hate to say it but I can’t help but feel is not a coincidence that this is the same time that I started taking an anti-depressant. She was so difficult and the toddler was getting into everything and I just. couldn’t. deal.

    Here’s to an upward swing of your rollercoaster. It’s got to be just around the bend.

  9. I’ve been feeling guilty lately because my 4 year old is SO hard to deal with and it’s so incredibly lovely when he’s gone for the afternoons at school and it’s just me and my sweet little toddler. 🙂

    Hugs to you- I hope things get better soon!

  10. Nothing but sympathy here. I feel like we just sort of got out of the tornado phase with Nate, where we couldn’t leave anything within his reach without it ending up on the floor, and I do dread the day when he will actually be able to say mean things to me. I’m so sorry you’re in this frustrating stage.

  11. I think one of the WORST PARTS, for me, is that part of me that is warning myself that later I’ll be sentimental for this. Because it adds that little element of I AM CRAZY NOW AND I WILL ALSO BE CRAZY IN THE FUTURE to the mix.

  12. I”ve been a reading your blog forever but never comment much. But now I so totally hear you and even though mine are 3 and 10 months, I could have written this. In fact I wrote something similar last weel 😉 Someone (herewegoajen) told me about a book: You’re 3 year old: Friend or Enemy. It was written about 20 years ago but isn’t that a great title for a book about this age. She truly is my frenemy right now.

    No great advice, just thanks for making me feel less alone

  13. I’m in a down phase over here too. I’m sure part of it is being pregnant, my tolerance is SO MUCH LOWER for all the usual toddler stuff. But I also feel like it’s my kids. Will is in a biting phase and Kalena is super whiny about everything and I just want to put them to bed at 5 every night.

  14. It would appear that we are in the same stage of parenting right now, and man if it doesn’t suck. Yesterday, we were at my parents and both children were pretty much delightful, and I wondered if maybe my perspective is all screwed up. Then, today, they were back to their normal selves where normal equals the four year old screaming at me and then SMACKING me, and the baby climbing the stairs all the live long day and me just laughing because it’s that or cry most days.

  15. Dave likes the book idea; we are thinking perhaps WE will write it, but it will have a chapter about nearly-five year olds, too. Because GOOD LORD, if I had a nickel for each time I have said “well TOO BAD, because I SAID SO, and I GET TO MAKE THE DECISIONS” this week, I could BUILD THE BOARDING SCHOOL WE ARE ALL DESIRING.

  16. I need that book, except for a three-year-old. God, you all told me three was bad but now four and five are the same? No. I can’t do that. Emily, please build that boarding school, for I will be in need of it.

    Today, Claire held her baby sister’s toy out the window of the car while we were going 50 mph and when I looked back and saw what she was doing she LAUGHED AT ME. She knew it was wrong, she knew she was in trouble and she LAUGHED and then my head exploded.

    But then last week we were at the playground swinging and I was kicking my legs out and the sky was so blue and so wide and so pretty and I thought, “This is nice. This is a great day. This is so much fun, hanging out with Claire.”

  17. Oh sister, I have so been where you are. I promise, once the first one goes to all-day school, it is like a new lease on life. And then, some day, they will BOTH go to school.

    This year, our youngest should have gone to kindergarten, but we made the very very difficult decision to wait one more year because she wasn’t ready. I know *she* isn’t ready, but *I* am ready. I watched all the other kindergartners go off to all day school with a tear in my eye. Next fall, when I pack her off to school, I am going to party like it’s 1999.

    Then I will start counting down the days until they both move out and no one leave crumbs on my couch or drops toy necklaces down my air vents. I look forward to missing them as I sit in my clean, clean house.

    Call me heartless, but a mama needs a dream to get her through the day.

  18. Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes to all of this. At my mommy-n-me type classes I remember years ago the parent educator talking about having phases of equilibrium and disequilibrium (is that even a WORD??), and how all kids have a few months at a time of each. I often think of that when things are going to shit around here… At least it seems like my kids go through the equilibrium/disequilibrium phases at the same time, so that when we’re good, we’re ALL GOOD.

    Hang in there.

  19. oh yes yes yes. We had a few good months but now my six year old is driving me to drink again, and yesterday I got called into his school because he is a “disruptive influence.” Gosh, you don’t say, he’s an angel at home. An angel who deliberately pees on a different section of the carpet every single day and who spends every waking minute sassing me.

    Hope your little guy turns back into a pleasant angel soon.

  20. My neck hurts from nodding my head so vigorously! It must be something in the air/phase of the moon/changing of the seasons because my 2 and 4 years olds are OFF THE CHARTS squirrelly lately. I have had so many humiliating behavior experiences in public lately I am seriously considering becoming a hermit. And yet, somehow, when they are each bathed and ready for bed I get that oh-my-god-so-lucky feeling every single night. Probably because they are getting ready to leave me the hell alone for the next 12 hours 😉

    Clearly, friend, you are not alone!!

  21. We are SO THERE with you (5 yo and 15 month old boys). What is UP with them lately? Started the day off with a tantrum, as a matter of fact. Delightful.

    Each of the commenters had me laughing and agreeing as well. Jaida, I LOVED your point about them leaving you alone for the next 12 hours. Some days, it’s a countdown to bedtime.

  22. As I commented on Mama Bub’s post the other day, my mother assures me 4 is the WORST age. She thinks even her grandson, whom she loves more than anything, ought to be shipped away to a desert island when they are 4.

  23. Right there in the sanitarium with you. Rocking back and forth, and waiting for the six month up tick. :passes the rum:

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