Thursday, April 11, 2013

I love Reagan, Reagan loves Minnie Mouse

I'm an angel, don't listen to my mom!
As a working mom, sometimes I feel like I only get the worst of my kid on work days.  I have the joy (ahem, sarcastic font intended) of waking her each morning to get up and get ready.  Some days she gets up on her own, but even then I am dealing with a grumpy mess of a toddler.  Like her Mama, she hates to be woken up.  It makes me a grouch, and I see the same exact reaction with Reagan when I have to get her up.  She fights me to get out of the crib, its a wrestling match to dress her and even breakfast is usually shoot down with defiant "No!" to everything I offer.  Even on a good morning, when I see the glimmer of some smiles and laughs, is still paired with at least one sob session. 

When I pick her up from day care after work, I can tell she enjoys school and loves her teachers.  Her teacher says she has great days, promises she was engaged and had fun!  But when we get home, the happy child is short lived.  There are always tears and tantrums involved with bath time and PJs.  Sometimes she loves the bath and has a fit when I make her get out, sometimes she is sobbing her way through the whole thing.  Lately it also seems she equates wearing a diaper to torture.  It just feels like her attitude gets worse and worse as the night goes on.  Small stuff will set her off, and sometimes the meltdown is so long I just have to walk away.  Do we really need to completely lose it because your cookie is broke in half?

Have you seen the hilarious website "Reasons my Son is Crying"?  Good stuff.  
Reagan's list would include:
I made her wear a diaper
Her poptart broke
I made her sit in her high chair for dinner
I put her in the tub
I took her out of the tub
Mickey Mouse club house is over and I won't replay it for the 3rd time
The cat went outside
I opened her fruit snacks by tearing the side instead of the top of the pouch
She can't carry all 20 books 
I peeled her banana for her and wouldn't let her eat the skin
She had to wait till I peeled an orange before I let her eat it
Her hot dog was hot
She has to put her cup down in order to get buckled in to her car seat
I rolled the window down too much

So my typical work day is summed up with me starting the day with a grumpy girl, working 8 hours and picking up a happy kiddo only to watch her mood deteriorate during the short couple of hours before bedtime.  She laughs, plays, crafts, talks, sings and naps at school; none of which I get to enjoy.   Its frustrating to feel like I don't have quality time with her during the work week.  I don't get to see her at her best, I don't get to share in the things she enjoys, I don't often get to build memories that I savor.  It's survival mode during week nights, just get through it.  I would prefer to be making the most of it but instead I am struggling.  Occasionally, she snuggles onto my lap so we can ready books or spends time playing with me.  But those moments are fleeting and flanked with tears and tantrums.  It's even harder to enjoy the good stuff when she has been pushing my buttons all night. 

I realize this is an important stage for her.  She is pushing every boundary I set and full on cries to be told no.  I grit my teeth and push on because I am hoping this will help establish rules in our house.  I can't even count the times when I have remind my husband that Reagan is not the boss, he is!  She doesn't want to go to bed?  Too bad, it's bedtime.  She doesn't want to get out of the bath even though the water is cold and she is a prune?  Too bad.  She doesn't want footie PJs, too bad.  I stick to bedtime because lost sleep means she is extra miserable.  I don't want her sitting in a cold tub to catch the sniffles.  I have felt her ice cold toes in the morning when she wears the Pjs without feet.  I stick to my guns because I know they are best.

She wants to watch Mickey mouse over and over, so I set a limit and stick to it.  I can survive the tantrums, though my nerves are taking a real hit.  I have also uttered the phrase "If you want to be mad about it, fine!  But that's the way it is kid".  I try to be flexible, this isn't boot camp but I also can't let her run the show.  I think I have a good balance but her reactions tell me this is still a time of adjusting and figuring out whose in charge.  Am I really so terrible for making her wear her coat?  Good grief...

In my limited time with her, I am often the bad guy.  I am the enforcer.  Of course I bend and give in once in a while but I mostly try to keep the structure.  Salt to the wound is that Daddy is her clear favorite.  Those mornings I try to nicely wake her, the first thing she says is "Daddy".   She prefers him, sometimes leaving me while playing to bring him over to our activity.  The stinker even sometimes calls out to me just so she can say Daddy to me. 

Reagan: Mom
Me: Yeah, babe?
Reagan: Mama
Me: What Reagan?
Reagan: Mommmy, mommy, mommy...
Me: Reagan, I am right here.  What?
Reagan: Daddy!

Diaper Wedgie
This is definitely a hard time of trying to figure out what my kid needs from me.  I try not to take it personal that she prefers Chet, but it doesn't seem fair when I do the lion's share of the child care.  Of course she doesn't evaluate that.  If the number of diaper changes determined who she liked most, I would win by a landslide (Did anyone else just picture a landslide of diapers?).  But right now, Mom isn't much fun.  Dad bribes with candy and mom lets her cry it out in her room till she can pull herself together.  Dad brings home fried chicken and mom makes her eat vegetables.  I get it.  If I am the enforcer, he is the softie.  I am business and he is fun.  Perhaps this is why I enjoy taking the funny photos of her.  My revenge for always wanting Daddy will be pulling out this shot to show her first boyfriend. 

But some nights I just want to enjoy my daughter and that seems hard to do.  Either she is in full brat mode (AKA nothing will make her happy) or I am just to tired to deal with the tantrum and fussiness.  This is a stage in life for me I really wish I could be at home with her.  I am missing all the good stuff.  I am working while she is growing and I will never get this time back.  Is this the case for everyone with a 1 1/2 yr old?  Is this just the reality of a toddler?   Someone tell me that this too will pass.  I just need a fun weekend to recover from an already difficult week.  I need some quality time with my happy kid to make up for a week of cranky pants.  Tuesday night she threw up on me from being so worked up and then not even an hour later she peed on me because she had pulled her diaper all wonky.  Sigh.  Why all the fuss?  I really have no idea.  Even though I tell her I love her each night, she only proclaims love for Minnie Mouse.  And this is the life of a working mom.