That Mom

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I am that mom. The one all the other women look at with pity oozing from their stares. The one that makes them hug their little gems a little closer. The mom of a screamer.

 Not a cute “I want my way!” squawk. I may or may not have somehow mothered an alien being with decibel levels unheard of on the earthly plane. A real life banshee, if you will.

Before I hear the chorus of haters who can’t understand how I’d say such awful things about my littlest cherub, just stop. I love my child more than life itself or, trust me, he’d never have made it this far.

I can now understand how wild mothers – the wildebeest, the lioness, the sharks – eat their young. There’s a lot of love in my heart for my little stinker, but sometimes, it feels like if I’d just consumed him shortly after birth my life would be so much…quieter.

My youngest has been a crier from just a few short moments after he was pulled into this world. As all mothers do, I yearned to hear the first breaths of my love as he struggled to come to terms with his new existence. I fought with the IVs and ignored the anesthesiologist as I arched off the table trying to connect with him, pleading with him to just breathe. Until I heard those first yells, I was inconsolable. After all, for ten months, the thought of those sweet sounds carried me when my swollen feet couldn’t.

And then, my prayers answered, he shrieked. Tears of joy fell from my eyes. That sound was the single most enjoyable noise in the room. It drowned out the beeping machines, quieted the shouts from doctors, silenced even the beating of my own heart.

Days, weeks, months later that sound was no longer a sweet hum of life, but rather a bellowing to the depths of hell I felt my life was slowly starting to resemble.

We tried everything. Burping led to spewing of vomit. Rocking led to tears and screams. Car rides were only tolerable with those noise cancelling ear buds. Our lives became a living mosh pit where we not only hated the music, but we were beginning to hate the band.

The love I wanted to have for my bundle of joy was slipping out of reach. The constant noise he produced was becoming too much for even a mother to find adoring.

We sought help and discovered he was suffering from various medical issues: colic, reflux, and an intolerance to the formula we were using. After working with doctors, this fixed the ailments, but didn’t touch the shrieking. Nothing we did stopped the nonstop crying.

Those cute little bouncy chairs: cried. The swing that all babies love: cried so hard he attempted to flip himself out. Bath: he turned red screaming. Swaddling: he would hold his breath in fits of rage. Baby wearing: great idea, brought the screams to ear level, ensuring I didn’t escape the sound for any length of time.

I swear I would have sold my left boob (I am still considering, if there are takers out there) to make this baby stop crying. Day in and day out, out he cries.Image result for free clipart baby crying

Pediatricians tell you to look for exciting mini-milestones to look out for, hoping you’ll hang in there. My favorites: when he reaches three months, he’ll sleep through the night and be happier; when he can crawl/stand, he’ll stop refluxing and subsequently crying; when he’s a year old, he’ll be past all the baby stuff; when he can talk and tell you his problems, he’ll stop relying on tears. Well, ladies and gents, it’s been all these and more, and the kid still brings grown men to their knees with his high pitched screeches.

I should make note that he is the most adorable child. Looks that could adorn the covers of magazines, a smile to melt butter, and a contagious laugh that brings even our grumpiest old uncle to grin. His personality is solid. He’s a leader, inclusive of all children, and learns quick as a whip. He’s a climber, scaling even the highest of counters, and he’s determined too. He’s inquisitive and engaged in life. A lover, never a fighter.

Until, he doesn’t get his way. Until something in his brain cues him to scream, and the water works begin to drown the crowd. Those that “oohed and ahhed” slowly step back. The looks of judgment shift my way, and instantly I become the party-pooper of the playgroup.

I want to tell everyone how sorry I am in every language I know. I want to bury my head in a bag of chips. I want to sip wine from a cup the size of Lake George. I want to be swallowed up by some huge sinkhole. I want to drop him off somewhere and have himfixed. I want to stop mommy-ing. I want to scream.

But, apparently, none of this is possible. I still have to drop his older brother off at preschool while he yells the whole time. I still have to suffer through days of being alone in the house because he isn’t cute anymore to any of my friends and relatives. I still have to bribe and feed him through grocery shopping. I still have to keep waiting until he gets through this “phase.”

And while it feels like I am the only mom suffering in the shadows of my poltergeist, I know I am not. And although sometimes I look at him with exhaustion, and some days wish he was different, I still watch him sleep. As I do, the love that was slowly depleted throughout the day, recharges and the courage I need to face another day, reboots. I hold my head up and face each challenge because I can’t stop being his mommy…I love him too much.

I am that mom. That one you will pity and thank God you are not. The next time you see me, don’t judge. Just give me a high five, and remind me to keep on trucking.

I promise, I’ll do the same for you. 

the days

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These are the days, they say. The ones we will look back on in our later years as the best memories. The snuggles we receive daily will fade slowly until one day we yearn for the smell of their baby shampoo. The nights we smoother them with kisses will be replaced with sneaking out and slammed doors before we know it. We will beg for the simplicity of time outs and forced apologies. They say.

Right now, it seems those days will never come. I love my little gems more than life itself. Yup, I’d take a bullet. I’d gladly walk through fire if it ensured their eternal happiness. I also could do without the jack in the box bedtime routines, crap in the underwear, and bipolar episodes that rival some the best Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde moments.

When you are in the troughs of toddlerhood, it is very difficult to see the big picture. Sure there are no shortage of open letters written to pluck at our heart strings and give us the guilt we need to do one more glitter craft, but what about the days you just stop giving a fuck about glue, playdoh, and boa feathers? Those days when you just can’t muster the strength to pull them apart one more time over the Elmo doll? The days when they go to bed less than shiny because the energy needed for bath time was gone before lunch. Does that make us bad mothers? Ungrateful for these days?

The internet has made us think so. The perfect pictures of these wonderful moms that always seem to have it together, that contain endless energy, and shit rainbows. The glimpses of smiling faces destroying their mother’s kitchen with shaving cream activities and crayon doodles. The documents that scream you should meet your child’s every whim within seconds or they will turn into serial killers and take you out in your sleep. But the internet lies. It holds back the truth; it shows only the highlights of life. It shows only, the days.

It doesn’t show the ten minutes of screaming before the snapshot. It neglects to show the mom profusely cursing under breath as she scrubs the bathroom floor for the fifth time cartoon-1082114_960_720after her son can’t seem to find the huge hole that is the toilet. It doesn’t allow you to see the haggled, stain-ridden t-shirt you are rocking for the third morning at school drop off. It doesn’t show you the real effects of the days.

I don’t want to seem unappreciative of the time I get to spend with my boys. I understand the new role in my life is not a chore, but an amazing gift with which I have been blessed. With every fiber of my being I will work to raise beautiful, rule abiding, caring, well-rounded men; but, I also understand that these days will get better and only in hind-sight will they seem magical.

Some of these days we will tour dinosaur exhibits and museums evoking hours of childhood play. Some days we will get through two hours of school work and learn how to count without help. Some days we will go on exploratory walks discussing books we enjoy. Some days we will gather with friends and family and laughter will never end. Some days the boys will collect fireflies from the skies and revel in their awesomeness before releasing them hours after bed time. Some days we will go on vacations. Some days we will paint, and glue, and create masterpieces. Some of the days will be amazing.

Some days we won’t get out of our pajamas. Some days will be a TV marathon. Some days the kid will play with an empty popcorn bucket and paper coffee cup, despite the various toys at his disposal. Some days we will be in time out forty times and still push our brother over the toy train. Some days I will feel like I’m in negotiations with a terrorist over peas. Some days we will leave the supermarket with our pride in our pockets screaming all the way to the car over a bag of goldfish. Some days I’ll secretly snack on bonbons while playing “Hide and Seek.” Some of the days will suck.

Years from now I will look at the boys I have grown into men and will sigh in gratitude for all we have gone through to get to that point. I will reflect on the wonderful days that comprise my memories. I know those days will not just include the magical moments that made me seem like supermom; but, I also know in time all the non-magical, cleaning up messes, scrubbing off poop, lazy Tuesday’s will start to fade. I will let go the days that seem like hell. I will forgive myself for feeling embarrassed that this is my life. I will forget the open letters I’ve read that have shamed me into feeling less than stellar. Over time these days will be the days.

But for now, right now in this trench of toddler-hood, in the hardest, bloodiest fight of my adult sanity, I resolve to go to bed every evening feeling successful knowing my children had food in their bellies (not that it was all fruits and veggies), played with toys (maybe not the top market), and had clothes on their backs (sometimes several-generation hand-me downs). Some days will create our memories, and some days I will struggle to forget.

While I appreciate hearing from someone on the other side of this battle that these are the days, currently, as I struggle leaving the park with my screaming toddler, fail at my attempt to sneak a shower in during their ten-minute nap, stare longingly at my husband while scarfing down my meal at the kid-friendly restaurant, I don’t need the reminder. I don’t need to be told how I should savor the moments, create better memories, strive to be a better mommy.  I am already painfully aware of these days and if I am being honest, some days, I can’t wait until they are the days.   

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