Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Motherhood Lows and Highs

Our little Noah is a piece of work.  He has a huge--and I mean huge--personality.  It's what I love the most about him, but it's also what tests my patience the most about him.  He is outrageously friendly, smart, and funny--but he is also incredibly stubborn, bossy, and whiny.  (I know all two-year-olds are this way, but I sometimes think Noah is especially strong-willed.)

One minute, he has me laughing with his hilarious comments about life, and the next moment, he has me wanting to pull my hair out because he is melting down over not getting his way.  He is so so so persistent.  When he gets something in his head, there is no distracting him from his objective.  I try to reason with him, I try to distract him, I try to playfully change the subject, I try to get stern with him...it doesn't work.  Eventually, I lose my temper and raise my voice--which only escalates the problem and immediately makes me feel terrible...but honestly, the kid is so stubborn!!!

I remember back in my naive days pre-children (you know, when I knew everything about parenting), a friend confided in me that she wanted to stop yelling at her kids so much.  She had a one-year-old and a three-year-old, and I was inwardly shocked by her admission.  I mean, I could imagine yelling at sassy teenagers, but who would yell at little kids??

Eh hem...well, it turns out I would.  It happens in our house on occasion.  I've always considered myself to be a pretty even-tempered and patient person--I do not have a bad temper--so it never ceases to surprise me when this tiny little boy, whom I love and adore with my whole soul, makes my blood boil.  I wouldn't say I scream or absolutely lose it as much as just raise my voice and get super frustrated--but it doesn't matter, I still wish I didn't do it.  I am working on maintaining my composure when dealing with the meltdowns.  My getting agitated only makes the situation worse, and it is possible to stand my ground, forbid the bad behaviors, and enforce the appropriate consequences without losing my cool. It's actually way more effective when I keep it together--shocking, right?

So there's my little confession for the night: Sometimes Noah really tries my patience, and sometimes I raise my voice with him.  But I am working on it.  And I really do love him more than life itself.  And looking at photos of him and telling funny stories about him reminds me of that.  So I'm going to do a little of that now.

Noah is insanely outgoing.  There is not a shred of shyness in this little boy.  When new friends come over to play, he will throw open the door enthusiastically and say, "Welcome to my home!"  He talks to everyone and invites himself to play with random kids at the playground and neighbors who are out in their yards, even those that are much older than he is.  "Maybe I can play with you!" he will say as he runs over to them.  Most people are completely charmed by him, and I understand why.  One of our neighbors babysat Noah the other night, and when he walked into their home and saw their little dog, he said matter-of-factly, "Hey, that's a nice dog you've got there."  He is such a character.

He has recently taken to talking to the drive-thru workers at fast food restaurants.  On a road trip not too long ago, I stopped at In-N-Out Burger, and Noah asked me if they had macaroni and cheese on the menu.  I checked and then told him that they do not.  He was insistent, "Well I can at least ask them, Mom."  I told him several times that I was sure, but he just kept saying, "Well I can at least ask!"  So I rolled down his window, and he shouted to the speaker, "Do you guys have mac and cheese here?"  Once he heard the answer with his own ears, he was appeased.  Another time, when I pulled up to the drive-thru window at Chick-fil-A, he rolled down his window and said to the worker, "Hi!  I'm Noah!  And I have a big boy bed!"  I thought I would die from the cuteness.

One day when we were headed to the store, I was waiting to turn left and Noah got impatient waiting for the oncoming traffic to slow down.  He started kicking the back of my seat and saying in a really sassy voice, "Go, Mom!  Go to the grocery store!  Go! Go!  GO!!!"  I said, "Noah, please don't boss me."  (We are working on this a lot lately.)  He thought about it for a moment and then said, "I'm not the boss, Mommy--you are.  You are the boss, and I am the boy."  Smiling, I agreed.  Then he sighed and said, "I was freaking out for a second." ("Freaking out"??  Where does he even learn these grown-up phrases?)

As I've mentioned before, Noah has a flair for the dramatic.  When I was babysitting one of his little friends, I turned my back for a minute while they were playing with Playdoh, and the other little boy drew on it with a washable marker.  No big deal, but Noah acted like a national treasure had been desecrated.  "Oh no!" he kept saying in distress.  "Oh no!!!!  Look what he did to my beautiful, beautiful Playdoh!"  The play date may have been ruined from that moment forward (believe me, this kid does not let things go) if I hadn't quickly shown Noah that the marker wipes off.  Phew--crisis averted!

And one last funny story that just happened today.  Noah and Ryan sat down for an evening snack of chocolate chip cookies.  Ryan poured himself a glass of milk while telling Noah, "I really like milk with my cookies."  Noah looked at him seriously and then said, "Cookies are my life...and my favorite."

HAHAHAHA!  I just love him.  He really is the cutest and the funniest.  And he can be really sweet too when he wants to be.  I wouldn't say it's really his nature to be super compassionate and sweet (he is fairly terrible at sharing and often pushes little kids who get in his way--again, a normal two-year-old behavior, but he isn't exactly a demure, peaceful child), yet he has his moments of unbelievable sweetness, especially when he is concerned about me.  I kind of love that I am the recipient of his most compassionate moments.  It makes me realize that even though I sometimes lose my temper with him, he knows that I love him fiercely and he returns that love completely.

I have had some breakdowns during this pregnancy during which I have really sobbed.  I don't think Noah had ever seen me cry before I got pregnant, so this is new to him.  The day after I found out I was pregnant, I just felt so overwhelmed and grateful and vulnerable and exhausted and hormonal, and I lay on the bed with tears streaming down my face, and Noah got up next to me and wrapped his arms around me. "It's okay, Mommy," he kept saying.  "Everything's going to be okay."  He put his little hands on my cheeks and got really close to my face and looked into my eyes and said, "Did I make you feel better?  Do you feel better now?" as he kissed me and snuggled me.  I felt like my heart was going to burst from the love I felt for him, which of course made me cry harder.  Ryan had also climbed into bed next to me and wrapped his arms around me, and even he got a little teary eyed from watching Noah comforting me.

More recently, I was feeling terrible from pregnancy and then got a wicked sinus infection that made it impossible to sleep at night.  After I had only gotten about two hours of sleep one night, Noah woke up early, and I felt so horrible and so exhausted that I just burst into tears.  Concerned, he asked what was wrong, and I told him that I was really sick and my face was aching.  Again, he climbed up next to me and put his arms around me.  "It's okay, Mommy," he said.  "The doctor will fix it at the doctor place.  Dr. Eyre will fix it."  (Dr. Eyre is his pediatrician.)  Again, his sweetness made me cry harder, and he kept saying, "Just breathe, Mama.  Breathe.  These things happen.  Everything will be okay."  I realized in this moment that he was saying to me all of the things that I say to him when he is upset, and it gave me a lot of peace to know that even though I am not perfect or perfectly patient, I must be doing something right on occasion.  I'm so glad to know that he has learned compassion, in spite of my occasional meltdowns.  I guess we are both learning and growing.

I love my little boy.  I love watching his personality emerge, and I think it will be amazing to look back at these blog posts and my journal entries someday and compare who he was as a two-year-old to who he is as a man.  Will he always be so outgoing and so stubborn?  So fiery and yet so sweet?  So smart and so funny?  Are these aspects of his current temperament just due to his age, or are they part of his innate personality?

I guess time will tell, and in the meantime, I will try to enjoy the adventure every day--meltdowns, hilarious moments, tantrums, and all.