Posts Tagged: frustration

Jun 12

Stubborn girls, the both of us

This is what happens when both mother and child are incredibly stubborn and convinced that only they are right and everyone else is wrong and can just go away: lots of bickering. I admit it, it’s not becoming or perhaps even appropriate, but goshdarnit if I just can’t let it go (wouldn’t Anna grow up thinking, even more than she already does, which is a lot, that she is always right and everyone else is always wrong?!!?!?).

Case in point: Yesterday Anna and I had an extended, heated argument about our old house vs. our new house. Anna said, “I miss our old house. It had a bigger yard to play in.” Which is clearly and objectively wrong, because this new house has twice the lot size! I took a deep breath (knowing I was heading into dangerous territory, because I was going to contradict her, albeit gently), and said, “I know that it might feel like that, because there was more concrete for you to ride your tricycle in the backyard at the old house [the driveway extended into the backyard] and because the pool takes up part of the yard, but the new house has a much, much bigger yard. But it’s ok to miss the old house.”

Anna crossed her arms, with a very cross look on her face, and exclaimed, “The new house does not have a bigger yard! The old house did! It was much, much bigger and I am right and you are wrong!!!!” Frown.

“No, sweetie, it really is true.”

“NO IT IS NOT! YOU ARE WRONG!” And then she settled into silence for the remainder of the car ride.

Sigh. I tried to cajole her into talking to me, telling her that it was ok to think that, but that I just wanted to talk to her, but she refused to speak another word until we got out of the car to run an errand, at which point, she turned to me, avoiding eye contact, and gave me a totally backhanded apology,”I”m sorry Mommy but I’m right and you’re wrong.”

I just laughed because, while her desire to repair the relationship was sweet, her stubbornness in remaining firm in her conviction remained (thus pretty much negating the entire apology). It is like, in her own way, she was wanting to do what countless people who have argued about deeply held beliefs (things that hit the moral compass, is what it reminds me of: pro-lifers vs. pro-choice, for instance) are sometimes able to do in order to come to an uneasy truce (“let’s agree to disagree”) except I KNOW I AM RIGHT AND SHE IS WRONG BECAUSE THIS PARTICULAR ARGUMENT CAN BE DEFINITIVELY SETTLED WITH QUANTIFIABLE NUMBERS!!!! Ahem. Not that I feel strongly about this or anything.

My girl….I have to admire her decisiveness, her firmness of belief, her ability to cling to her ideas, and yet….and yet….and yet….how frustrating and, oh, how we clash sometimes all the damned time. Sigh. I always hope that I can have the frame of mind to just let it go but somehow I just cannot do so. Because I am stubborn, too. I am more like her than I would care to admit.

Jun 11

No more, or The Saga of Anna and Poop

Anna has been potty trained, for #1 and #2, for over 2 years. Yet, up until last month, I was still wiping her poopy butt. Why? Because she was refusing to do it herself and it just seemed easier. But then I reached my limit, my poopy-butt-wiping threshold and declared NO MORE. Adam, ever the softy, was continuing to wipe her (when he was home, that is). I pointed out to him that he was enabling her, for goodness sake. That he was making me look bad. That he was ever-more turning into the “Good Parent,” the one who buys ice cream cones and dolls and wipes poopy butts waaaaay past the time that it is needed.

“Ok,” he said. “I hear you.”

And that is where the wheeling and dealing began.

“Anna,” Adam said to her a few weekends ago. “You are SUCH a big girl.”

“I know!” she says, immodestly proud of herself. “I AM!”

“Do you know what big girls do?” he asked.

“They ride tricycles! They play with Barbies! They eat their dinners!” she exclaimed, bouncing, still unaware of the turn that this conversation was about to take.

“Yes, that’s right. They do all those things. But they also go to the bathroom on the potty, all by themselves.”

“I do that!”

“Well, you go to the bathroom by yourself, but you are asking Mommy and Daddy to wipe your bottom and we think that you are old enough to do it yourself now. Like a big girl!”


“Wait wait wait wait wait,” he calmly said. “Let’s talk about it.”


“Let’s make a deal,” he said, thereby gaining her attention (Anna loves nothing more than making deals.This girl is a born negotiator).

“What?” she said.

“Let’s make a deal. Let’s decide on a number of times that I will wipe you and then when those are all used up you will be all done.”

“And then Mama will wipe me?”

(Here I have to interject, despite Adam’s finger raised in admonition, as Anna swings around to look at me): “No! I am ALL DONE wiping your bottom. You CAN and you WILL do it yourself.” (Okay, I may or may not have been having one of those kind of days. You can’t prove it).

“Mama, YES! YOU DO!”

“Calm down, calm down,” Adam soothes. “Let’s decide on a number of times. How many?”

He starts small. I think he started with three more times. Anna rejects this offer. They finally settle on 10, he wipes her bottom (did I mention that we are holding this family conference from the bathroom, with Anna sitting on the toilet?).

“How many are left now?” he asks her. (Oh, good, a math lesson AND potty training, all in one! What a day!)

“Ten!” she says.

“Noooooo. If we had ten and we take one away, how many are left?” He holds up his fingers and she counts them.

“Nine? Only NINE?”

“Yes, nine. You let me know when you want to use these last nine because after these nine, no more wiping.”

And so it goes like this, for a few weeks, actually. She is a smart one, my Anna, and she sees immediately that it does no good to insist on ME wiping anymore. Mama is DONE DONE DONE and it doesn’t matter what she says, I will not do it anymore. Unfortunately, it evolves into something else, something else that makes me crazy.


SCENE: Anna in Bathroom. Monday morning. Adam at work. Jen doing breakfast dishes in kitchen. Anna makes going to the bathroom noises, then stops.

ANNA: “Mama! I need you!”

MAMA, appears in bathroom, dish and dishtowel in hand: “What do you need, sweetie?”

ANNA: “I need you to show me how to wipe myself.”

This seems like a reasonable request to Mama, despite the fact that we have gone over this in the past. She complies, putting down the dish and dishtowel in the kitchen and returning. She mimes wiping herself, admonishing to be careful not to wipe back to front (no one wants poop in their vagina. Not good). Anna does as told, flushes toilet, washes hands. All is good. Until the scene of the next poop.

ACT II, later that day. (Anna is usually a twice-a day pooper).

SCENE: Anna in bathroom, making going to bathroom noises. Finishes.

ANNA: “MAMA! I need you!”

MAMA (a bit less patiently than last time; she senses where this one might be going): “What do you need, sweetie?”

ANNA: “I need you to show me how to wipe myself.”

MAMA: “ARGH! I just did that this morning! Ok, ok, ok. I’ll show you again.”

Mama mimes the wiping, explains it, expresses confidence in Anna’s abilities as a Great Big Girl Who Can Wipe Herself, leaves.


MAMA: “Oh yes you can!”

ANNA: “NO! I CAN’T! You have to stay and watch me do it!”

And so it goes. On and on. For days. Meanwhile, Adam, when available (basically just weekends) wipes Anna, ticking off her last wipes, down towards the very last one. Anna, being the shrewd and crafty child that she is, reserves the Daddy wipings for the harder to wipe poops, the messier ones. Adam looks relieved as there are fewer and fewer left. He remains cheerful in the face of ever-increasing child-panic at the thought of almost being all done.

We went camping Father’s Day weekend. Anna had one more wipe left. Adam took her to the creek to go fishing and….you guessed it. The story, as told to me by Adam:

“I have to poop!” she said.

“Ok,” said Adam.

He leads her to a private spot, helps her squat.

“Remember, this is your last wipe,” he said.

“Where’s the toilet paper?” she said.

“We don’t have any,” said Adam. “We are out in nature so we will have to use a rock or a stick or a leaf.”

Anna pauses, mid-pooping-grunt, surprised.

“A rock?” she asked.

“Yes, a rock. We sometimes have to use things like that when we don’t have toilet paper.”


“I don’t think we have a choice!” he said.

“Nevermind!” she all but shouted. “I do NOT have to go potty. Just farts. NO POOP NEVERMIND!”

Pants up, they return to camp. Anna announces she has to poop. I take her to the outhouse. Surprisingly, these pit toilets have never really bothered her. She is curious, but she never refuses to sit on them. Today is no exception. She asks for a wipe and I refuse.

“Ok,” she sighs, in a resigned tone. “But will you show me how to wipe myself?”

I am nearly apoplectic. How in the WORLD can she need me to mime wiping myself for what feels like one hundred bazillion times over?

“NO.” I say. “You know how!”

Eventually she does it, reassured that at least I am in the same room with her, apparently to check her form. Her eyes never leave mine as she wipes herself. “Like this?” she asks.

“Yes. You are doing FINE. Now finish up ’cause it stinks in here.”

She saves her very last poop for our return home after camping, Sunday. Happy Father’s Day to Adam.

“This is your LAST wipe!” he tells her.

“I KNOW!” she says. “But I still need someone to show me how!”


A few days later, she and I have a showdown about the wiping situation. I refuse to come and watch her. I tell her that the point is that she do it ALL BY HERSELF. That I do NOT need to be in the same room as her. That I have confidence that she can do it just fine by herself. Thirty minutes of loud screaming from the bathroom later, she emerges, cheerful and repentant. Personally, I am fine with the whole thing. I find it amusing that she has just yelled herself hoarse, screaming at me from the toilet. She can’t hurt me from there. I am actually quite happy. It’s better than when we argue about other things. I just busied myself in the kitchen until she emerged.

Turns out, my little talk about not getting poop in her girlie parts has scared her. Oops. We talk about how it is important to keep things clean, but that she doesn’t have to be so anxious about it. That I am totally confident that she can do it herself. That she does not need me in the room anymore.

And, just like that, two years after her first poop on the potty, I am done. No more. I don’t have to deal with the poop of the child anymore. My little big girl is growing up.

Addenum; This morning, Anna disappears from the breakfast table to go to the bathroom. She comes back into the room. Butt first. Cheeks spread apart with her hands. “Is this good?” she asks. “Did I get all the poop off?”

Oh my oh my oh my.

I nearly fell out of my chair laughing silently to myself. Because she is bent over, back and butt to me, she can’t see the tears of mirth in my eyes as I congratulate her on a job well done. And indeed it is. Laughter is good for my soul.

May 11

Once bitten, twice shy

I finished off the dishes tonight with the help of all the chocolate left in the house (not as decadent as it sounds, unfortunately, as we only had two very small squares left) and a glass of Grand Marnier. This is my new favorite combo. The Grand Marnier, in particular. It just….burns so good. I don’t do this every night. Nor every week. Every month? Well….I don’t know. Probably.

Today I made three meals (ok, one of those “meals” was nachos, but okay. Whatever. Totally a meal. I do the best I can). Today I prepared and supervised two baths (the afternoon popsicle was sticky). Today I wiped a poopy butt that was not my own two times. I brushed teeth that were not my own. I kissed a skinned knee. I listened to the plot summary (told in the confusing way of four year olds, in the way that finds your mind wandering off into the big wild yonder instead of paying attention until the child asks a question and you SNAP back with a cheery, “That sounds GREAT!”) of way too fricking many Strawberry Shortcake episodes. I did three loads of laundry and folded none of it. I washed dishes and dishes and dishes. I reorganized the cabinets in the dining room. I made tea. I poured milk, lots of milk. I administered Albuterol and Triaminic (Anna has a cold). I reminded her to wipe her nose, over and over again and scolded when she used her arm or her shirt instead of a tissue. I hugged and kissed and told her I loved her. Today I got bitten and grabbed and pinched (hard!). Today I got yelled at. I made her go to her room. I forgave her. I hugged and kissed her some more.

And I read part of a Vogue magazine (in spurts) and wondered at people who find success (Lady Gaga, for instance, or the author of that new book I’ve been wanting to read) at the ripe old age of 25. I wonder if I will do anything of consequence. Is this, what I have been doing all day today, of consequence? Is there lasting impact? I feel stir-crazy. I feel like a hamster going around and around. I feel like I’ve become what I never wanted to become. I had dreams for my life. They seem irrelevant, now, in the world of wiping sticky handprints off of walls, picking up paper dolls and plastic toys off of the floor.

I wonder if I would feel this way if I had another child or if I would be thrust back into the place where nothing else exists except for the sucks swallow breathe of breastfeeding, the immediacy of the need for diaper changes and pats on the back. A four year old has a frenetic energy, an ability to confound. A four year old is headed for longer days at school and friends that I don’t know, not really. Is my only reason for thinking of another child so that I can lose myself in the escape of new motherhood, all over again? Is it so that I can become oblivious to myself, again?

What happens when my firstborn deems me more and more irrelevant, over these next few years? When she tells me about part of her life, the part that she feels like telling, to appease the part of me that wants to wrap my whole self around her and remember what it was like when she was my whole universe? Will there be any me there?

I like staying at home because I like the freedom that comes with it. I haven’t lost the giddiness of feeling, when I’m driving downtown with the windows open at 10 in the morning, like I’m skipping out on something, playing hooky. Being a stay-at-home Mom is like having a handwritten note: “Please excuse Jennifer Gray from her need to be tied down to any adult accountability, as she is currently caring for the needs of the Tiny Dictator.” Will it still feel like the same excuse, the older Anna gets? Will she really “need me more,” as I’ve heard parents of grown-up children say (as in, “Your children will actually need you more and more, the older you get!”), or is that a scheme to continue the escape? Where is the real world? Why do I feel a little bit ashamed that I’m living this way? Like I’m not a real grownup? I suppose that, in actuality, I have the most grownup job in the world. Who else is there to raise the children? What are we doing with these little creatures, anyhow? We teach them skills and manners and communication and know-how and these little being grow and grow into other grown-ups who will, in turn, teach their own little ones things.

And all along, we may fail to talk about the other things, the things of ethereal beauty and lasting importance. We fail to talk about how, even with all these skills and manners and abilities to communicate, us adults are still just flailing about in the world, doing the things that grownups do, drinking the things that grownups drink, doing the jobs of grownups.

I have glimpses of perspective and dammit if some of that perspective doesn’t come from the cancer. Dammit if that cancer taught me a little about life and love.

I’m somehow infinitely more optimistic now. I sleep better (except right before a scan, and then I sleep like crap). I have reasonable (I think) expectations of my spouse. I am satisfied with me and yet I am also in upheaval because I am in the “what now?” part of the cancer recovery. What do I plan to do with my “one wild and precious life” (thank you, Mary Oliver)?

I want to excuse myself and these ramblings, I want to say that this is all because I am melancholy because we have just returned from a thousand (feels like) rambling and adventurous days and nights, because Anna has been sick and I’ve been stuck here at the house, because Adam is on the road and I haven’t had a real, sustained, adult conversation in days. Maybe it is because I had to cancel my appointment with my therapist today because of a sick child. Maybe it’s because I am hormonal. Maybe it is because I am tired.

But maybe it isn’t.

Maybe these are the real questions of my heart. Maybe I am reaching out, on my very tiptoes, towards….towards….what? Towards something that is yet to come. We are always on the verge of change, and blessed are we when we can sense it before it comes.

Okay, change. Change of my schedule, change of my heart. I’m ready to drift along towards the thing that awaits.

Gotta grab that boat and float along. Gotta feel what the feelings bring. Gotta do what the soul is shouting.

And right now I hear it say to me, Be You. Be the Best You that You Can Be.

I hear you. I hear you. I hear you.

I move towards clarity with an open heart, with all of the love in my being, with all of the courage that comes from experience, and all of the strength that comes from the determination of my core self.

Mar 11


Strong mind, strong will. No one has ever accused my little girl of being a shrinking violet.

It is a source of pride to me. It is a source of frustration. Today’s frustrating strong-girl moment:

Anna was playing with her refrigerator alphabet magnets:

“Mama, what does this word spell?”

“That spells ‘do,’ like ‘do you want to go for a walk?'”

(excitedly) “And like ‘dew drop!’ Like when the fairies in Tinkerbell have the dew drops like this!” (cupping hands to demonstrate).

“Actually, that is a different word. That’s called a homophone. It means that it sounds the same, but it has a different meaning and it is spelled differently.”

“No, it’s not! It’s the right way to spell it! I know it and you don’t!!!”

“Do you think you know how to spell better than your Mommy?”

“Yes, I DO!”

(Me, walking away with clenched teeth, shaking my head. There is no convincing this strong-willed girl of mine. Once she has made up her mind…..forget it. Her way or the highway. And OH how I love her and OH how she drives me crazy sometimes!)

Jul 10

Filter off

I am normally a very polite person. I can’t help it; it’s the way I was raised. Even if I don’t agree, I often smile and nod (at the very least). I may point out that I disagree, but only if I can do so in a way that does not embarrass or belittle or otherwise cause the other person some discomfort.

So I know that it was due to the emotional distress that I have been feeling lately, what I recently did to an acquaintance: I said what I was actually thinking. Filter off.

This was about my cancer. This is someone I have only met recently. “Oh!” she said, when I mentioned that I was going to the Cancer Center on Monday. “You have cancer?” She smiled, tilted her head and said, “Have you tried eating Raw? Because it can help cure you!”

I felt a momentary panic, then rage well up. I don’t know if I can adequately explain what comments like these trigger in me: feelings that are so deeply seated, so primal. Usually, I try and change the subject, or politely say, “No, I have not tried _____ [fill in with any number of crazy whack-job do-it-yourself-cancer-cures],” while trying to remain the picture of thankfulness and gratitude that someone would care enough to try and help me (I do know, after all, that they are only (oh, how I despise it) trying to help.

This day, though, I tilted my head to the side, gave a tight-lipped not-really-a-smile-but-a-grimace and said, “Really? Are you really asking me that?”

She lost her resolve, momentarily, but then continued to plow forward (fatal flaw): “Well, I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject and I just know all about how beneficial it can be, how it can solve all sorts of medical issues!”

Me: still tight-lipped. Barely holding it in.

Her (mindlessly plowing on–is she really that clueless that she cannot see my discomfort?): “You should really consider it! I’d be happy to give you some reading materials!”

Me: “When you are the one with the cancer, I’m sure you can do whatever you want. When you are the one whose cancer is growing so rapidly that you can see it, then you can eat Raw, or practice colonics, or pray to Jesus/Buddha/Krishna/Mother Earth/whatever. Until then….I just thank goodness for the modern medicine that saved my life.”

Her: “Well….umm….well….everyone has to do what they think is right for them.”

Me (damned upbringing, I just can’t help myself!): “I’m sorry….I don’t mean to be rude. I just….” (tears, as I turn away).

The thing is, I know that she was only suggesting things, like most others, in an effort to be helpful. But, to me, it feels so incredibly hurtful. It feels like a blame thing (if only I had done X, Y, and Z differently, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten cancer in the first place). It feels condescending, as if others don’t believe I am a smart enough person to have considered all my options, like I just went with the first option presented to me (I really believe that medicine, yes, even that dreaded blasted chemotherapy, saved my life). It feels invasive (it’s my life and until they have been there, they have no idea what it is like to be in my shoes).

The only thing I hate worse than the “medical” suggestions is when people want to tell me stories about other people they know who had cancer, people who, for some reason or another, I remind them of. Trouble is, the vast majority of these individuals with cancer, the ones that well-meaning others want to tell me about, are dying or dead. WTH? Like I really want to hear a “really and truly inspiring story!” about your friend who was only 33 years old and had a husband and 2 kids and Stage IV breast cancer and died last year (“but she was SO inspiring! and you remind me SO much of her!!!!”). Thanks but no thanks. That is not encouraging. I know that when some people hear my story, they can’t help but think of these other examples but I am not those other people. I have my own story and I have chosen my own way to deal and I appreciate gestures of love and concern but these things do not feel loving or helpful to me. At all.

Whew. That’s a rant. Sorry.

It’s been quite a week.

Jun 10


Anna is about halfway through a course of antibiotics (stubborn ear infection that refused to go away on its own, causing much lack of sleep and pain) but I am pretty sure that making her finish all these doses is going to be the death of me. I have resorted to bribery of the worst sort, offering (gulp; cannot believe I am about to admit this to the world) bites of chocolate ice cream or even (whisper) candy as a reward. In a way, I can’t say I blame her. That stuff is nasty. But…oh my. The hysterics. The “but I feeeeeel better! Why do I still need to take medicine!” It is killing me, one dose of nasty white liquid at a time. Twice a day. For 10 days. Yeah.

May 10


That’s what I feel like today, totally night of the living dead. I was all set to have this beautiful, glorious night of sleep and then, well, that’s when the screaming began.

Problem is, if it’s not one thing it’s another. It might be that her Pullup is suddenly painfully uncomfortable (though dry), or that she wants to wear a particular outfit in the morning (OK, who cares, yes, you can do that!), or that (most often) her covers aren’t perfect anymore and she wants them pulled up and tucked in just right. Which Daddy cannot do, by the way, only Mommy. Except Mommy has been on a binge of re-covering these last few nights. Like, every 1-2 hours ALL NIGHT LONG. Which just doesn’t seem right. And I’m exhausted.

Adam tried to run interference for me last night, resulting in approximately two hours of screaming. She was so tired she would fall asleep for a few seconds, but then awaken with a start, remember the indignities falling upon her, and scream some more. Scream Scream Scream.

Yawn. I’m tired.

Gems from last night (trying to keep my sense of humor here):

  • “I am NOT tired!!!!!” (as she yawns and her eyelids close)
  • “Daddy is not my favorite! He can’t do anything right!” (this one is sadly hilarious. It makes me laugh because I know it isn’t true; she adores him!)
  • “This Pullup is wet! Wet wet wet” (No. No, it’s dry dry dry and we’ve gone through 6 in one night).
  • (And then, when I attempt to give her a new, like totally new and right out of the packaging Pullup in order to try and get some peace because it is 1:45 am and GAH I’m TIRED!) “I don’t like this one! I’m going to make it wet! (And she does, by wiping her face, all snotty and teary, all over it). Hmm.
  • Lucky hates it when Anna gets like this. She actively tries to leave the scene, wherever in the house it is taking place. Problem is, last night the screaming took place all over the house, so we could frequently see and hear her clomp, clomp, clomping (she’s Big and her paws make noise on the hardwood) from room to room to room, looking for respite. Our house is too little for her to find it, sadly.

So, the hours between 11 and 1 were not my most favorite hours of the night. Neither was 7 am this morning, either, when Anna screamed that she wanted breakfast. Now. No! NOOOOOWWWW! Sigh. Fingers crossed tonight will be better.

Sep 09

Calming the emotional battleground

Anna alternately lights up my life and shoves me into a world of frustration and annoyance. I’m practicing my calm breathing and chanting the mantra “I am in control of my emotions” as we enter a new phase in which every rule is questioned and tested. I don’t want to have to be an enforcer, but some things are non-negotiable. Like wearing pants to the grocery store. I don’t care who you are: pants are a must. It’s just not okay to flash your private parts at Trader Joe’s (though, sidenote: weirdest thing! We went to the zoo on Sunday morning and there was this guy there who was TOTALLY cruising around the zoo in a tank top and boxer shorts. TOTALLY not acceptable. V. V. Strange). Though of course it’s okay to enjoy a little naked time in the privacy of one’s own home, the pants on rule is a line in the sand. Also non-negotiable: kicking or hitting Mama or Daddy, sitting on our poor, weak, elderly cat (who, by the way, is now at the point where he cannot eat unassisted. Jack needs to be propped up so that he doesn’t fall over while eating. How sad is that? Also, please don’t yell at me for this, but as sad as it is it’s also…slightly funny to yell, “Sorry, honey, I can’t help you wipe your pee right now, I’m helping the cat eat.” Giggle. Or is that just me?).

New tactic: CALM CALM CALM. And firm, when necessary, though I find that sometimes…it isn’t necessary. Problem is, you kind of have to know, up front, which things are necessary and which things aren’t or else it makes you a pushover parent. Not cool. Any matching of toddler ramped up emotional intensity equals trouble. Hours and hours of screaming, terrible trouble. So: CALM. Calm replies. Quiet answers. Respectful attempts to resolve issues without budging on those things that are necessary. Calm offers of help and/or time alone, when necessary.

I don’t actually think that she’s a terrible kid. I just think that she’s trying to figure out how to get all of herself under control. A big task! This time in her life feels so crucial. I want to get across the right messages. These are the things that I’m trying to be careful to say:

It’s okay to have big feelings, even angry or scared or hurt ones.
It’s not okay to hurt others.
It’s okay to take some time by yourself, if you need it.
It’s more fun to be with you when you aren’t being hurtful in words (“NO! GO AWAY! I NO LIKE YOU HERE!”) or actions (kicking, hitting, biting).
We love you, no matter what.

We’ve officially been sick for forever. I’m sick of being sick, sick of being home without my friends and without preschool. I’m ready to get back into the swing of things but I don’t want to be that mom that brings my sick kid around school or playgroup or a friend’s house or whatever. Anna, as of today, was still snotty and coughing and, really, if she were someone else’s kid, I don’t think I’d feel that great having those symptoms near my child. So…stay away we must. It’s just been really….intense at home. Not only is Anna having extreme emotions, she’s also very clingy and needy when not overtly emotionally upset (“Mama, play with me in my room” heard over and over and over like a broken record and YES, of course I do play with her but sometimes a grown woman needs a break from playing with My Little Ponies or reading “Everyone Poops” for the umpteenth time. To do glamorous things like prepare meals and fold laundry).

I know it’s just one of those things, like all other things: a phase. We’ll get through it. But somehow this last week has seemed interminable.

I miss my friends!!!! I miss the routine of getting out and about and in the world!

Sep 09

Ball of Fury

In a nutshell: Anna kicked and hit. I gave her a warning (“we will leave if you kick and hit Mama again”). She kicked and hit again. We left. She screamed. And screamed. And screamed. Is this what the three’s have to offer us? Because if they do? No thanks. I’ll pass.

She screamed all the way home, like a tiny riot grrrl. With a punk attitude and with a fury borne of the futility of her efforts to squirm out of her carseat.

If she were protesting child abuse or war or genocide we would sit up, take notice, give her a medal for her belief in the cause.

This is what she screamed: Stop this caaaaaar! Right Nowwww! Stop this carrrrr! Nowwww! (occasionally, Now Pleeeeease!”: so polite).

She screamed until her throat was dry and scratchy and she coughed. She took a break and resumed screaming. She screamed from Glenn Annie to Mission and all the way to our house.

I unbuckled her carseat. She took off her pants in protest, but remained in the car. Screaming.

Part of me wanted to melt into the sidewalk. It takes a good stiff backbone, parenting a toddler. You have to expect to draw some unwanted attention from time to time. I imagined that all the neighbors were indoors, listening. I imagined that they wouldn’t be able to make eye contact the next time we met on the street. I imagined that someone was wondering if I were hitting the living daylights out of her. Yikes.

Eventually she wriggled out of her seat, climbed down from the car. Removed her underpants.


Screaming snotty red faced half naked child standing on our front lawn.

This job doesn’t pay enough.

She eventually calmed down, washed hands–dirty from hitting my tires–put on underpants and sat down to lunch, nearly falling face first into her couscous, so spent from the outburst. She ate nearly everything on her plate, then asked, “It’s napping time now?”, eyes at half-mast.

It feels like such a huge responsibility, taking care of a creature that is so consumed by emotions. Will I be able to teach her how to control her emotions (especially the part that wants to be violent when angry?)? Can I do it in such a way that she is still able to (healthfully) express emotions, when appropriate? Will we emerge unscathed?

I notice, also, that this screaming, writhing, crying creature elicits some pretty strong emotions in me. Part of me has a (terrible, terrible confession) desire to slap some sense into her (I don’t; I leave the room when this feeling overwhelms me). Part of me wants to cry and protest with her (this sucks, I’m hot, the screaming is bothering my ears, shut up!). Part of me wants to laugh (so silly, why are we agonizing over this again?)! So maybe I’m not as in control of my own emotions as I would like to think that I am. The screaming of my child unlocks the door to my own inner screaming child. Now if we could only get those two to talk….

Doesn’t seem possible that one so small could possess such a mind of her own, but she does….she does. She’s so smart. She always has her own ideas. I’m proud of that part of her, at least when we’re not battling. I like knowing that she’s no wall flower. That she’s not a pushover. That she is a natural born leader, a creative thinker. But MAN! To parent such a child! Not the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It’s my life’s task: to teach. To learn. To love.

I want not to battle. I wonder if I asked too much today (the original frustration, prior to the hitting and kicking, was because I asked her to get dressed for lunch). When to stand my ground? When to let it slide?

Sep 08

And now for something a little less funny

Feeling a little less humorous today. I won’t fall off the deep end or anything, but, really and truly, it is a bit difficult to not feel a bit depressed. “This” (and by this, I mean the cancer, the chemo, and all the accompanying ickyness) is not what I expected, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, astute readers will realize the irony of the timing of all of this… was only just recently that I thought I would be having a new baby this February….instead I’ll be heading into the home stretch in my cancer treatment.

There is so much mourning to accompany all of this.

Today I am sad that I don’t have the energy to keep up with all of Anna’s enthusiastic demands: “up!” “walk!” “go!”

Today I am sad that I am considering donating maternity clothes and baby clothes instead of preparing them for a next baby. Even if we do have another (big IF right now), it really won’t be for a while.

Today I am sad that I have to be so reliant on others. I simply cannot clean the house and take care of my child and do all of the things that I am used to doing.

Today I am sad that all of this puts so much pressure on Adam. He has been just outstanding, the best partner I could have ever asked for, but it is wearying, taking care of all the things that need taking care of,and I feel badly that he has to take so much on his shoulders.

Today I am sad that I am feeling so weak and tired and continuously nauseous and that the anti-nausea pills knock me flat on my back.

And, you know what? I’m not just sad, quite honestly. I’m also good and angry because this really, really sucks. If it weren’t bad enough to have cancer, I also have to have toxic chemicals pumped through my body. I know that they are intended to save my life, but I am having a hard time embracing something like that (we received severe warnings about other people handling my bodily fluids at this time; if I throw up and some of it lands outside the toilet, I am supposed to put on disposable gloves and clean it up by double bagging it and then throw away the gloves, also double-bagged, too. This stuff is so incredibly toxic that it will burn skin on contact. There are more details like that, but, well, you get the picture).

I don’t know how to end this post today. I know I’m being self-indulgent. I know I’m being whiny. I know that others who have cancer should be so lucky to have (a) such a good prognosis as I have and (b) such an amazing support system as I have. Those are really good things. Sometimes it’s hard to keep sight on those, though. I long for my old life, my innocent life.

I find myself kicking and fighting against this. I am having a really hard time having a good attitude. I am staring at a wig on a stand on my dresser and I can feel the bile rise in my throat because I do not want to have to wear that thing.

I want to get up and run and play all day with my child without getting tired.

I want to laugh and talk about easy things with my husband.

I want to relate to my friends and family in the normal way, without this thing having over our heads, without me crying, once again, as always.