In the past couple years, I’ve had more bad weeks than I could shake my fist at, so I can’t say this was the worst week on record. But, it was pretty bad.
I won’t describe it in detail, but it was really just the culmination of two weeks in a row where your Daddy was gone on business travel; we were low on energy, low on patience, high on yelling, hitting, spitting and, mostly, crying. And, by the way, it’s that time of year that we adults call “The Holidays,” which sounds pleasant enough, but is really just a bunch of hustle and bustle, busy-ness, excessive commercialism and a self-fulfilling prophecy of stress. Not to mention the arrival of the baby Jesus #thereasonfortheseason
[I must take pause here for my humility and gratitude to say that when your dad is gone, Lola and Lolo quickly step in when it appears I’m Losing It; they make dinner or provide a guilt-free environment for you to watch television while I complain about a certain three year old and the number of objects she’s thrown at my head this week. Auntie Ninang Jonelle also watches Bel on a weekly basis which she has done practically since you were born and she never hesitates at my request to take both of you for a bit. And some days you go to school for a few hours, thank God.]
[Okay, all that being said, my therapist says I have this habit of minimalizing my experiences and feelings, especially when I start comparing myself to So And So whose spouse is gone all the time or to So And So whose life seems fairly similar to mine, so why can’t I deal? Or I get on a kick of how I’m totally competent and can handle anything thrown, literally and figuratively, at me.]
So, I’m saying this because it is important for me to say this—like my therapist would be super mad at me if I didn’t admit—it is hard being responsible for two small children for multiple-day stretches at a time.
When your Daddy leaves I can’t help but feel alone, abandoned even. And being with you morning, noon and, ugh, bedtime is no walk in the park. Did I mention the objects been thrown at me?
It’s hard. And certain unnamed behaviors from certain unnamed children don’t make it easier.
You were both The Worst this past week. But, so was I.
We probably hit bottom around Tuesday night when I was crying because Danjo was being Danjo and Bel was crying because I was crying and the dog was crying to be let out.
So, even though Wednesday also had its challenges, things were already looking up. I went to yoga, we bought a new DVD and you both went to sleep in your own beds with no fight, allowing me to have a little time to myself for an art project.
And yesterday, Daddy came home. I guess that put us all in a better mood. Though I still had a toy horse thrown at me. Twice. But, after dinner as a family complete with ice cream sundaes, we were in Seventh Heaven.
I was Communicating Clear Expectations and Providing Transition Time left and right, baby. And you two were dare I say, behaving? I was basically in Parenting Nirvana.
I can’t take all the credit though. Danjo was, for once, not putting up a fight. And Bel was only a small puddle of tears as we cleaned up the living room—and I don’t mean the royal “we” where I mostly pick things up while asking you to do one measly task—I mean like you were both actually transporting toys and clothes and string cheese wrappers from one place to another more appropriate place.
Not only in an effort to give positive reinforcement, but also because I was purely shocked and delighted, I noted how well Danielle was behaving last night.
“Wow, Danielle! You are doing such good listening!”
To reward Danjo, I took out our on-again-off-again positive reinforcement tool: The Chore Store or in layman’s terms: a bucket of dollar store toys used as bribes. She chose some Hello Kitty stamps and Bel chose a plastic horse figurine.
Danjo never ceases to amaze, but usually in her wiles, wits and willfulness. Last night was no exception, as she maintained her agreeable disposition. She went potty and brushed her teeth, even setting out her sister’s toothbrush for her.
I helped you out of your clothes into pajamas that were easily chosen with no Drama (if you are not familiar with Drama Pajamas they are the pile of Danjo’s rejected clothing amassing in the corner because of her decisive fashion sense).
As I tugged your nightgown down over your head, you beamed, “I did good listening!”
“Yes, Yelly! And I am so proud and happy.”
“Mommy,” she said, “sometimes you make me happy too.”
Because there couldn’t possibly be a better end to this week or to this story than that.
I love you no matter what,
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