Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Life with two kids

It's honesty time again, people, and it isn't pretty. If you haven't procreated yet and plan to, you might want to skip reading this post and move along to some cute kiddo pictures. If you have procreated but only have one child, this might be of interest. If you have more than two kids, you are laughing at me already, so just look at the cute pictures and gloat in the comments section.

As you've probably noticed, the posting has been a bit light of late. Yes, we've had jetlag and sickness and visitors galore...but that's not all. Once again, I've been masking the truth from you, our devoted blog readers. We are just too EXHAUSTED to blog properly. I know this is no excuse. I just posted about the blog as journal, and if I stick to that, we'll have a big hole where the current reality should be, and we can't have that!

So what's been going on? Nearly nine months into her second year, our darling Ellie has discovered her own Terrible Twos (accompany that by the sound cue "dum dum DUM!"). Sometimes it feels like the only moments she's not throwing a fit are the moments she's manipulating me or just ignoring me completely. It's not truly that bad, but when she fakes misery at such volume and false despair that it sets the baby to genuine wailing, it's hard not to lose my mind, let alone my patience. On the rare occasion that I've had enough sleep, her tantrums are actually pretty funny. Ellie is without a doubt a serious drama aficionado. She has studied. She has planned. She has seen the Oscar and she wants it, people! A typical tantrum goes something like this:

"I want chocolate."
We don't eat chocolate for breakfast. How about some cereal?
I heard you, but we don't eat chocolate for breakfast. Would you like some Cheerios?
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooo!" At this point, she deliberately removes herself to a spot where there is no furniture or physical obstacle of any sort (she's very attentive to safety), lays down on the floor with her face in her hands and wails dramatically. Then, when adequate wailing has been achieved, she'll look up and announce in a deep voice plagued with misery, "I'M NOT HAPPY."
Yes, I see that.
Some days, you can really see the benefits of her rigorous training. After the whole tantrum process, while she is still red in the face from whatever serious infractions I've committed, she will exhale deeply, grin all over and cheerfully announce, "Ellie's happy now!"

We've also embarked on the everything-is-mine phase. Just to mix things up, she will also occasionally tell me to "Stop talking, Mama" or "Mama not eat" or "Mama not sit". I need micromanagement, and she is there to fill the job. Last week, she achieved four meltdowns in the hour before I took her to playgroup. When I got there, I met a mother of four who gave me some great advice. She reminded me that they all go through it, and they will grow out of it. She told me to take a break and physically remove myself from the room to cool down when I really needed to, that it would set a good example as long as I refrained from jumping off the balcony in desperation. Good tip!

It's not all bad. Ellie talks so much and so clearly that we really enjoy listening to what she has to say (most of the time). She keeps us well informed on all goings-on, and her logical leaps are quite impressive. She also has started singing for us, something I've been looking forward to for ages and something she was content to have me do for her until now. Her "ABCs" is the cutest I've ever heard, with some German, some repetition, and a bit of mixed Dinglish to muddle through the tough middle part. I will post a recording of it when I get a good one. Her independence is a marvel as well. One morning, she sneaked past me without waking me up. When I awoke and found her room empty and the house silent, I was more-than-slightly panic-stricken. Trying to keep the alarm out of my voice, I went downstairs calling her name...and noticed a cool draft. Ellie had put on her garden shoes and was out in the back garden, happily blowing bubbles in her pajamas. It was the sweetest thing.

Even on her bad days, Ellie is not much worse than an average two-year-old's easy days. We've always gotten off so lightly with her that we can't help but feel plagued when she acts her age. We also know this is probably a reaction to the baby in the house. We are so fortunate that she has never really directed her wrath toward the baby, but the baby-induced peril is there and it is real enough to her. Ellie just wants the attention she feels she deserves, which is everyone's undivided attention (and acquiescence), every minute of every day. I mean, come on! It's not too much to ask, really.

So how's the baby doing? Actually, she's wonderful. And how's her sleeping? Actually, not so wonderful. Baby Stephanie is a Mama's girl in every sense. I love this, but it does make night-times hard. She wants to be as close as possible to me without actually being beneath my skin, though she might go for that option if it were available. I love snuggling close and hearing her sweet baby breathing...but every time she moves even a little, it wakes me up. And lately she's been quite a restless sleeper. The dirty truth is her body is on repeat poo-strikes. We have been told this is quite normal for breast-fed babies, especially in growth spurts, but I think the poo-strike makes her uncomfortable and causes the sleepy squirming. She also still breastfeeds during the night. This fact doesn't bother me, but it got a big reaction at our last Consultation Bureau appointment. The doctor said, "She's not waking anymore to feed at night." This was not a question, so imagine her surprise when I replied that actually, yes she is. With wide eyes, the doctor says, "Only once." No, more than that. Now shocked, "Twice?!" Um, yeah. (Actually, I have no idea. I'm too sleep-deprived to keep tally.) "Mmmm. Twice." The doctor is now murmuring to herself in shocked disdain as she types into the computer: "Feeding in the night!" Horrors.

Now, here are those cute pictures I promised at the start:


Anonymous said...

Well, this has to the the most HONEST, the most HEARTRENDING, the most HILARIOUS and the DEAREST blog I have ever read. You are an amazing set of parents, and Jennifer you are an amazing talent as a writer. Thank you for sharing your lives through pictures and prose. I myself had 3 children, and I must honestly say I don't remember the terrible 2's. I am sure they were in there somewhere between the sweet months of babyhood and those precious years when they slip away to grade school. Hang in there, great Mama that you are. You ROCK!!!!!

Karly said...

My dear Jen, thanks for sharing your trials with parenthood of is most interesting for me, as I only have one right now. You are truly an amazing mama, and Markus is an amazing dad, and I know that the two of you will get through this. Yes, they all hit a terrible two's stage, even if they're not two. Sammers was three when he hit his and while we're out of it to a point, we still have our moments. Couple this with the fact that he looks like he's five, and then imagine the looks I get when he's acting his age in public! (Although, thankfully the truly dramatic stuff has been reserved for home) I can relate to how exhausting and trying the tantrums and all the other stuff is (by the way, Ellie and Sam must have studied at the same drama academy prior to beginning their tantrum throwing!)...I can't imagine how hard it is with another wee one in the house, and I appreciate the honesty and the info.

As for the night feedings...the consultation bureau will get over it :) You know I was a nursing, night feeding mama too, and I know that you're doing what's best for you and your family. Somehow our children will turn out wonderfully (and have already) in spite of the fact that we didn't have them "sleeping through the night" without waking up to eat by the age of 3 months ;)

Finally, thanks so much for sharing the pictures...they are indeed adorable! Thanks again too, for sharing your lives with us all. We love you all so much!

Karly said...


Love the ringlets that Miss Ellie has!! Her hair is beautiful :)

Anonymous said...

Fear not, Jennifer as my sister-in-law went through the exact same thing with her second baby. GK didn't want to be put down, and she would not be soothed unless she was being held. As far as the poo stages go, she's gotten out of the constant pooing, but now they are much more lethal because she's eating solid foods. Like everyone else said, hang in there. Before you know it, The girls will be graduating high school and you'll be wondering exactly where has all of the time gone... You will survive. Hell you survived Katrina, and repairing (more like rebuilding) a house post Katrina, I think you'll survive this!

azure said...

Man, oh man... I put my name on the last comment, but apparently the computer and I were having a difference of opinion. :) But it was from me Azure....