I was not at my best this weekend.
We ended on a high note, which is great; Halloween was a total blast even if Riley refused to wear his costume. (Much to my surprise, no one asked him why he wasn't in costume or what his mismatched sweatsuit + Crocs was supposed to be.) But the less than 24 hours between Saturday afternoon and around 9 a.m. on Sunday were a study in Poor Parenting Decisions.
We went to a super birthday party on Saturday afternoon at an indoor gym. Maddie and Riley both really enjoyed it, Riley especially. When it came time to leave, Riley threw a classic tantrum that involved yelling at me, screaming, kicking and hitting me, and generally making a spectacle of himself. It's never fun for that to go down in public, but it just continued when we got to the car. He spent most of the ride home yelling at me that he didn't love me. He's been doing this a lot lately, telling me he doesn't love me. I'm sure he's testing me or acting out of some kind of fear that it perhaps *I* don't love *him*; most of the time when he tells me he doesn't love me, I get a fiendish delight in telling him that even if he doesn't love me, I still love him and always will and nothing he can say will make me stop. This is true, and it's what I told him on Saturday, but the truth is that even if I know he's testing something and pushing something, it still hurts to hear those words come out of his mouth. Hearing it nonstop for 15 minutes pushed me right over the edge and I ended up yelling at him and then marching both him and Maddie up to the house where we all cried and blustered around for a good long while. Lame. Oh, and I forgot the most ridiculous part of it all when, spent and annoyed, I took a stand about fruit leather consumption. Because THERE'S SOMETHING THAT MATTERS IN THE LONG RUN. So stupid.
This morning, Maddie and I got into a serious power struggle over her pierced ears. She wants to let them close up (she just got them pierced about three months ago) and I was, for reasons that are not clear to me, totally angry and upset about this and basically ended up holding her down to try to get a pair of earrings in her ears. Which didn't work because one ear appears to be infected and so guess what? IT TOTALLY HURT HER when I tried to jab an earring through there. Gar. Felt like a total Worst Mom of the Year/General Bitch combo when I figured out what was going on. Not to mention that her ears are just that: her ears. If she actually doesn't want them pierced right now, it's just not a big deal. The funny part is that now she has one earring in (that she refuses to take out) and one earring-less ear that she won't let me near.
I told my dad after all of this was said and done that I'm not sure why it seems to be taking me numerous painful lessons to truly understand that power struggles don't work. They are completely ineffective, and I need to choose not to engage. It's a waste of everyone's time and it reinforces negative behavior and teaches bad choices for one and all. It's just bad, bad, bad, bad news. Ugh. Maybe this was enough to drive it home.
There were plenty of great things about the weekend: having my dad in town, getting the au pair's room all set up, spending time with friends, watching football, the whole Halloween gig. But the bad stuff was really bad. My reactions were so out of proportion to the situation. I've tried to watch for patterns in my irrational reactions, and so far I've noticed that they are for sure worse (a) first thing in the morning (I really do need coffee to be functional), (b) when I'm under time pressure (trying to get out the door, trying to get to bed on time, etc.), or (c) when I'm multitasking to the nth degree and Maddie or Riley just won't let up with the questions and demands. Knowing this helps . . . I guess. Mostly it makes me aware enough to warn the kids that my fuse is short, but the awareness seems to do little to push me towards more control.
Life has been quite unstable for us for the past couple of months: the sudden school change, the loss of one nanny, the search for a temporary replacement, the loss of the replacement, the application to the au pair program, the insanity at work. Our au pair arrives on Thursday. While I know that getting her settled in will be yet another transition for us, I'm hopeful that this transition will bring stability. We could use some of that right now.
Happy Halloween. Maddie was a fairy; Riley as a "regular person" in possession of a dino costume. I'm going with two simple rules about the candy haul this year: 1. No candy until after breakfast, and 2. candy can only be eaten at the dining room table. But once the kids have had their breakfast, they can eat to their hearts' content without asking permission. I tried policing the candy scene last year and talk about power struggles. That particular instance is Lesson Learned. I wish I was always that quick of a learner.