Sunday, March 29, 2015

Just eat the banana

Photo courtesy of Richard North/Flickr

I need a victory.

Something I can hoist myself up on and stand atop arms waving wildly like Rocky on the art museum steps.

Although preferably, no stairs. I don't have the stamina for stairs. But I would like the option to be victorious in a sweatsuit. I'm so tired of being cold.

At this point, I won't even be all that choosey about what that win entails. 

Last week at the grocery store, the cashier offered Lily a sticker. 

"I should probably get one for my sister, too," she told the woman after graciously accepting one for herself. My heart swelled. Granted, it was a small gesture. But a huge one for someone who spent a better part of the day locking her sister out of their shared bedroom, pulling her around by her jacket hood or shirt collar and generally asserting her dominance at every opportunity. 

But that small triumph has fizzled in the wake of their daily bickering.

A pair of eaglets hatched in a nest near where I live. It's unsettling to watch these small fuzzy bubbleheads tussle with each other over food -- barely able to hold up their heads and bodies -- but willing to kill the other for survival.  

Thank god I didn't birth raptors (though Lily is known among family and friends for her birdlike strut and propensity for squawking), but it is kind of creepy how eaglet-like they are toward one another.

Today was one of those days when the physiological affects of their unending demands and irrepressible lunacy was especially noticeable. I mean I could actually feel the blood in my body start to heat up and rise into my face while my teeth ground into each other and my muscles tensed.

For example, a conversation around 5 p.m.:

Jovie: Mom, I'm hungry.

Me: OK, well, we're eating dinner soon.

Jovie: I just want a banana.

Me: OK, you can have a banana. Just a minute.

Jovie: But I want the banana right now.

(Begins pushing chair to counter)

Me: OK, OK, I'll get it. 

(Hand Jovie a banana)

Jovie (after removing the peel and taking a small bite): Mom, I don't want this banana.

Me: But you just asked for the banana. You need to eat the banana.

Jovie: NO! I don't like it.

Me: Fine. Leave it on the counter.

Lily: Mom, I'm hungry.

Me: OK, well, we're eating dinner soon. 

Lily: I want a banana.

Me: OK, you can have Jovie's banana. It's on the counter. 

(Lily takes banana, commences eating it.)

Jovie: Mom! I want my BANANA!!

Me: But you just said you didn't want your banana. And now Lily is eating it.

Jovie: But I just want my banana. Right now.

Me (sighing): Fine. Here's another banana.

And here's the thing. I know they're little. Jovie's closing in on 3 and Lily's 4 and a 1/2 and I'm the 33-year-old asshole who just wants them to eat the goddamn banana and shut up about it already. Louis CK has already joked to great effect about this exact issue

"It's always your fault with a 3 year old. Always. Because they are what they are. They can't help it. Just tape the windows. It's a fucking hurricane." 

I can forgive Jovie for her belligerence and erratic behavior. Mostly. In the moment, I just want her to do the thing I need her to do without it involving a five-hour negotiation about why we have to put socks on with her shoes or why we have to brush her teeth and remove the crusted on coat of cream cheese and chocolate milk or why we have to take a nap (because if you don't take a nap, mommy might spend the rest of the afternoon curled up in the closet with the remaining cat, that's why). But I know that this is just another phase. 

It's harder sometimes with Lily though. Probably because she's given me glimpses that she can be a reasonable human person. Like, I'll ask to put her dishes in the sink and feed the dog and she'll do both tasks cheerfully and speedily without any resistance. And I'll start to think (foolishly) "Wow. She really is maturing." But then I'll suggest that it might be time for her to start wiping her own bottom after going No. 2 -- something she was perfectly fine handling before she started preschool -- and she'll erupt into torrential tears and frantic screaming, 'I can't! I can't! I CAN'T DO IT!!! WIPE ME MOM!!!" And I will, while simultaneously swallowing the odd mixture of rage and laughter that comes from watching a small child throw a tantrum while sitting, pants around her ankles, on the toilet. 

Reading that back right now, I'm even more convinced I'm an asshole. No pun intended.

This afternoon, I took the crew on a walk, thinking the fresh air would do everyone some good. By the third leg of the walk, both girls were out of the wagon, plodding along at a snail's pace. Which would've been fine if the dog hadn't been dragging me and the wagon didn't keep bumping into the backs of their feet. Neither wanted to get back in the wagon. Then Jovie would want someone to hold her hand, which I couldn't do because I had to pull the wagon and hold onto the dog, so I asked Lily if she'd hold her hand. Only Lily would use the opportunity to sprint down the sidewalk, which caused Jovie to fall down. Then Lily would plop down in the grass and not want to move. And Jovie would still be sad that there was no hand to hold. We inched along thusly. By the time we got to the park I was done. Lily, of course, wanted to go to the playground. In a rare showing of support for my sanity, I said no. This caused Lily to scream in agony. 

What a world! What a world. What a horrible, horrible mom! 

I just couldn't. I told her I didn't have the patience for the park today. I didn't tell her that what I wanted to do was go home and lock myself in the bedroom with a bottle of wine and the remainder of season one of "Big Love." 

We can't always get what we want.

She whimpered in the wagon the rest of the way home.

This is the part of motherhood that I hate. It's not the kids and all their shenanigans. They're just kids. They're my kids even. I love them. 

It's that I feel like I'm losing my sense of humor. Like I've forgotten how to go with the flow and instead am always swimming upstream. Everybody said being a parent is the hardest job you'll ever have. But (probably for good reason) nobody ever really goes into the details (or maybe I've just tuned them out). 

I think it's this. All the little silly nothings piling up while you shed layer after layer of the person you thought you were. 

On better days -- the not today days -- I'm grateful for the metamorphosis. I'm a better person for the girls. But so much of it hurts. Makes me feel ugly.

"You know what mom," Lily told me this afternoon. "You're driving me crazy."

Ditto kid.

Side note: In the midst of all the grass is greener-ing I was doing on Facebook, I spotted this great column. A great read for stressed out moms (which I suppose is redundant.)

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