Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tough times

The week hasn't gotten off to an auspicious start. In fact, it's been downright hard. Jennifer's version of Ellie's cold has turned nasty, and I have lost my voice. I'm all froggy and yuck, and I'm exhausted to boot. Yesterday, Ellie seemed to see this as a golden opportunity to go completely insane and be a typical 2 year old with wild and unacceptable behaviors. This is what I refer to as her "lion versus weakest gazelle" routine (the weakest gazelle being Mama). It was trying enough to make me want to compose a country-western song entitled "Out of Diapers, Out of Gas, and Out of my Mind". Then, it occurred to me that that could be the title of a whole parenting album about this oh-so-tough (but oh-so-worth-it) job. Life in Holland factors weren't helping much yesterday either. Just before dinner time, the smoke detector in the unoccupied house next door started going off. We called the realtor who is managing it, but they refused to come out to turn it off because there was no fire and it was after office hours. It beeped its incessant high-pitched beep ALL NIGHT LONG. Road construction near our house means the garbage truck won't collect on our street, so Markus has to walk the trash to the other side of the canal where the city has placed a temporary sign that says essentially "Put your trash here". Last night, we got a notice that vaguely indicated that we put our trash out on the wrong day or in the wrong place and would be fined for 3 bags, but of course there was no info as to what would have been correct. So, no trash pick-up at home, and no trash pick-up where the city says to dump it and a fine besides! ARGH. Trying to get Ellie to go to school this morning was like pulling teeth without novocaine. She ran away from me every time I approached with her jacket or shoes, despite the fact that she excitedly verbalized how badly she wanted to go to school. After school, we dealt once again (as we've been doing for several weeks now) with the parking nightmare that is our neighborhood under road construction. There was nowhere to park on the street, and someone had illegally parked in our private garage spot. I circled the neighborhood for over an hour, only finding a spot in time for Ellie to fall asleep in the car...which meant big tears when I had to get her into the house and into her own bed.
And I mentioned I'm sick, right?
This isn't fun.

So why am I writing this whining, complaining blogpost? I had to go through this mess, but you don't have to read about it. Who wants to read about complaining? I was just going to let this be another post-less day, but something else happened too that feels worth mentioning.

When I picked Ellie up from school today, she was sobbing huge, miserable, hurt tears...the kind of tears and crying that break a mama's heart. She stumbled tearily into my arms and clung to me as she rarely does these days. Her heart was broken. Something big must have happened, but what? I tried soothing her as I waited for her teacher to dismiss the other children so we could talk about it; Ellie cried into my hair the whole time. Finally, her teacher, Marie, came and gently told me that Ellie has been acting out in small ways ever since the baby came. Ellie has been jumping around during sit-quietly time, not following instructions, etc. (which is very un-Ellie-like) and smiling when she is asked to correct her behavior, though not correcting it without intervention. We have seen lots of these behaviors at home in the past few weeks too (deliberately coloring on the floor with markers, lots of happy defiance...), but since the timing didn't coincide with Stephanie's arrival, we thought she was picking these things up at school. Marie said she hadn't mentioned it because it's always small and it's not constant, so she accepted it as a normal, new-baby-at-home phase. Apparently, Ellie had a great day at school today, but just as they were lining up to leave, she dramatically held up her daily painting for all to see and tore it down the middle. Marie thinks Ellie must have shocked herself with what she had done, because (although the only reaction the teachers gave was surprise) she immediately dissolved into inconsolable tears, which is how I found her at pick-up. This story just broke my heart. My poor girl! We give her lots of love and attention, but a new baby (even an easy, sweet one) is a big adjustment. In the midst of my own exhaustion, I had lost sight of the fact that our dear Ellie is still a baby too. She's trying her best to be good and keep normal, but she is also having such a tough time sometimes.

I'm not beating myself up over this. Being a parent is HARD WORK, and even when I'm losing my nut, I am doing the best I can for my girls and my family. I'm not perfect and a lot falls through the cracks, but to do otherwise just isn't humanly possible most days. Still, today was a good reminder for me of Ellie's perspective. Being a big sister and a big girl and an obedient, polite girl and so many other adjectives is HARD WORK TOO. She's doing the best she can, even when she's losing her nut. Otherwise just isn't humanly possible most days.


Anonymous said...

Hello Jennifer,
I am sorry that you are having such a rough time and all of you being sick.

I can imagine that is hard for you and Ellie too ! I hope that there will be better days again soon and I really hope that you all will recover soon from being sick with a cold !!!!

I have a little cold too and hope that won´t get worse.

Take & all the best.

Lots of Love,

azure said...

Oh Jennifer... Oh Ellie...You know one of these days you're going to look back and say, "Remember when a cookie and a big hug would make you happy?"

I'm glad that you're not beating yourself up over this. Unfortunately there are just going to be days where even sometimes a mother's love can't soothe the soul, but knowing that it's always there is key. Ellie knows that you and Markus love her, but she's so used to having ya'll all to herself that the idea of now being forced to share is well... probably overwhelming. I'm sure as the months go by and as Baby Stephanie gets bigger, Ellie will hopefully regain her sense of herself.

Just hang in there and follow your instincts. They are more right than you already know!

Take care, Azure

P.S. Markus and Stephanie, I hope you're doing well too! Hopefully baby Stephanie isn't getting any of the gunk that's around!

Karly said...

Oh Jen, big hugs to you and Ellie (and Markus and Stephanie too). You are such an amazing mom, and I think it's so great that you can see Ellie's perspective. I bet she knows that, and I know she knows the love that you guys have for her. You are a great mom, and she is a great big sister! I know this period of adjustment will pass, but until then, know that you are doing a phenomenal job!

Biggest hugs from us!

the dipe squad said...

Thanks for all the support! It has been a hard week, but that happens sometimes. We are all doing okay, and my cold is finally going away. The wake-up-call about Ellie was helpful, and we've made sure to give her extra hugs and support when she's going batty. The extra support for Mama via your comments has been much appreciated too!