Janet Jackson sang about it.
Kids are struggling to get it.
And, dammit, in my own house, I thought I would have it.
In truth, the thing that I've given up the most since having kids is control.
1. I never knew sleep was optional.
When the kids were infants, whether it was nap time or evening, I wanted - nay, I needed them to sleep, but apparently they can smell desperation. I found out the hard way that I couldn't physically MAKE them sleep. This was a real ass-kicker. Sure, there were things I could do to encourage sleep, and I studied every technique in every book, but short of hitting them over the head or giving them enough bourbon to sedate them, they would sleep when they were good and ready. This was maddening, and they would push me just to the end of my rope. As I was about to lose my mind from sleep deprivation, they would close their eyes, but I swear I could see little insidious smiles on their faces.
2. Then there's eating. Or not eating.
As babies, when I was first adding real food to their diet, they ate everything. Clearly they were playing the long game. Getting me confident. Making me feel like I could rock this mom thing.
And then, just when I thought I'd figured out what my kids would eat, I would get bold and make one meal for all of us. Rookie.
I'm convinced they watch me spend time and energy working on a meal and decide proportionately how to difficult to be around it. I'm not a natural cook, so I'm sure they see the struggle unfold and think, "Nice! This is going to be a good day."
I serve it, and almost immediately, they tell me why they wouldn't, in a million years, touch the food that they liked when it was on my plate a week ago.
So, as my dreams of a family dinner such as the one on Blue Bloods fades away, I pour a glass of wine - oh, who are we kidding I've had one through meal prep - and make some mac and cheese. ...and oh so faintly, I swear I can hear the slap of the children giving each other five under the table. Maybe it's my imagination...
3. The battle of getting dressed.
|The bandaid on her chin is |
I want him to wear underwear to kindergarten. He does not.
I want her to pick an outfit that doesn't make her look like she's on the show "Toddlers and Tiaras". She is clearly hoping to qualify.
And so it goes every morning. I've tried timing them. Bribing with TV. I've even shoved clothes on them only to have them peel them off and run around naked crying because, "I never let them wear what they want!" Simply isn't true, but there is no rationalizing with a toddler.
They wait until they see me curled up in the corner looking at facebook at all the families who have it together to throw me a bone and get dressed or let me get them dressed.
This struggle for control can make me feel so powerless and frustrated, but I am able to see it for what it is.
For a while.
I mean, I'm the parent, right? I'm the adult, right? They are so little and their brains are just beginning to develop.
I know this.
I'm a rational human being.
I've been patient.
It's the end of the day.
We have been battle picking...
All. Day. Long.
I want to get to my wine, Blacklist, and, oh yeah, and to spend some time with that guy that got me in this predicament.
We are almost there when my son says, "You pick the story tonight, Mom."
Wow. I have the green light to choose something! Maybe we are getting somewhere, I think to myself. He is learning to give and take!
So, I go over the bookshelf, and I pick out a book. It doesn't matter which one because the result would be the same, but for the record, it's one he likes, so this feels like a safe pick.
Just as I'm about to sit down...
"I don't want to read that one."
"But you told me to pick the story tonight."
"I didn't know you'd pick that one."
"Yes, but you asked me to pick and so I did. Now this is what we are going to read"
Do you see it? I'm on the verge of picking a ridiculous battle. I could have just picked another book, but apparently I need control too.
"I don't want to!"
"We are reading this book. It's a good book. I've read it a thousand times to you. Now lay down!"
Yep, this happening. I can't give in one more time today. My sane part of me is looking down at this scene and shouting, "Just let him choose a different book!"
"Noooooooo! I'm not listening!"
The tears begin. His. Not mine. ... Yet
"Fine! I will sit here and read this book to you. You can listen or not."
I begin, and as I do, he covers his ears and starts ranting to himself.
(under his breath) "You always make me read what I don't want to. I don't want to read this book. It's the worst book. I'm not listening. I won't read this book...." (and on and on and on)
I continue to read the book, but I'm human, and it's the end of day. I can't ignore the sound of his little voice one more page.
"That's it! I'm done. Pick a book. Read it to yourself, and I'm going to put your sister down!"
Which certainly will go well, right? I'm in a great mental place for it.
"Noooooooo!!!!!! Mommy! I want you to read me a book!"
Oh yeah, it's all about control.
We do finally read a book. Or, in a tizzy, I send my husband up to read. But regardless, it gets done, and as I sit down with my glass of wine, the toll of battle washes over me.
I wait for them to quiet, and then I go back up to watch them sleep. Partly, because I feel in control for the first time in my day, but also because the love I feel for them when they are sleeping is unmatched. This is how I regenerate for the next day. I charge my battery with loving thoughts.
Sometimes I have to go in a couple times.
Do you feel the battle of control in your house?