Today's Image

...with Sam

To the devil with child-led. I'm tired of it, and the family is suffering. They may be my issues, but when I find myself yelling at him in the middle of a store, we've hit a turning point, and we have to decide which way to go. I bit the bullet, and the diapers have gone bye-bye.

(Of course we're talking about potty-training. What did you think?)

I realized, about six months too late, that I'm really sending Sam mixed messages by putting him in diapers. I got upset with him yesterday for pooping in his diaper while we were out, but, you know, what did I expect? It's a diaper! That's what you're supposed to do in them. How can I get upset with him for performing the traditional duty of one wearing a diaper?

So we went to the store, and I bought lots and lots of briefs for him. He already had a few pairs, purchased in a fit of optimism last year, but he's grown so that they now resemble Speedos on him. Also, I recognize that this may entail some many accidents, so a giant heap of briefs may not be unreasonable to own. Sadly, potty-training must have been a popular New Year's Resolution for WalMart shoppers in our area; the shelves were largely devoid of fun underwear in Sam's size. We got some Spongebob pairs and some Spiderman pairs ("I love Spiderman!" says Sam, who's seen a few scenes of the first movie and has had no other exposure to the character), and then I got a large pack of plain tighty-whities for him. When he finally gets the hang of the whole routine, I guess we'll go buy some more as a reward for him.

Diapers are hereby reserved for nighttime only. I'm not even certain that I'll put him in diapers when we leave the house, as many people do; after all, if I were a stubborn three-year-old, I might very well wait until we were leaving to fill my diaper if that were my opportunity to do so. So far today he hasn't peed, and I keep asking him if he has to go. I suffer no delusions that we'll have a "one pair of pants" day; I just hope we can keep it below five accidents. Hopefully, after a few accidents, he'll take the hint that we're not going backwards anymore.

I don't know, maybe I'm doing positively the wrong thing here. Maybe I should hang in there, praying that he'll eventually follow in the paths of my friends' children, suddenly deciding one fine morning that the potty looks like a sweet deal. I don't know that it wouldn't have happened tomorrow. What I know is that I've hit my breaking point, and it's not better to be yelling at him. He didn't object to the underwear plan this morning, so perhaps he'll accept this path as the better way to go.

It can't be worse, can it?

...with Gabe

I love this little stinker; I really do. He's already in a "Daddy phase," which boggles my mind a bit. I'm still good for nursing and for comfort when he gets overstimulated, but otherwise, he prefers to be perched on Daddy's shoulder, talking with him and reveling in his deep voice and funny games. If Eric could lactate, I think I'd be out of a job.

That's not what's frustrating me, though, nor is the growth spurt we're weathering that has him waking to nurse with exhausting frequency. That's all normal and all part of having an infant in the house. What is frustrating is actually a normal thing, too, but it's something that Sam didn't do, and so I was unprepared for it.

Gabe, at two days short of three months, wants to sit up. While Sam, though, was content to practice by himself (at all hours of the day and night, causing some pretty bad sleep deprivation in both himself and me), Gabe requires a "spotter." If I lay him on his back and attempt to walk away to, say, brush my teeth or empty the dishwasher, he sets up a loud grunting and fussing. It doesn't matter if I'm within his line of vision or less than four feet away; he wants me right next to him, holding his hands and helping his progress.

Being propped on a Boppy pillow or other cushion doesn't cut it. He doesn't want to be semi-sitting, and he doesn't like falling. He wants to be completely upright, and he wants my face inches away from his so that, one guesses, I can fully appreciate the magnitude of what he's doing.

Sam didn't get the yen to sit up until he was nearly four months old, and he didn't master it by himself until a couple of months after that. I'm a little distressed that my baby seems to want mobility at an earlier age; having a child who'll stay where you put him is a luxury that I missed as Sam got older and morphed into a whirlwind of activity. I guess that's the real problem; Gabe sees Sam, the ball of energy that he is, and he wants a piece of the action. Could I have reasonably expected that a second child would be as complacent as his more sheltered older sibling was? I was more naive than I hoped.

So, my dilemma: do I pray that Gabe will take his time in learning, so as to remain a "blanket baby" for a while longer, or do I encourage him to learn as fast as he can so that I can regain the ability to stray from him for more than a minute at a time? I haven't decided.

...with myself

They're my kids, and I love everything about them. How can I get so frustrated with them? What drives me to get so aggravated when Sam acts like a typical three-year-old? Why do I get so edgy when Gabe frets about being put down?

I'm human, that's why. Everybody gets frustrated sometimes, and it's perfectly natural to have one's nerves on edge after dealing with needy little people all day long. What's bothering me is the old standby enemy: "mommy guilt." You never really get past this one, and telling yourself that what you're feeling is normal and natural doesn't make it go away, not completely.

And so not only am I frustrated with myself for what I'm feeling, I'm frustrated with my inability to accept what I'm feeling. It's a right pile of ugliness, it is, and it leads to me feeling snappish, which only compounds the issues at hand.

I beat myself up for the decisions I make, no matter what direction I go. If I'd decided to leave Sam in diapers and put a lock on my lips, that nagging little voice would tell me that I was not helping him at all, that I was hindering his development by not encouraging him. If I stay by Gabe's side for hours out of the day, I feel guilty that the rest of the house, and my children's living environment, is going to pot, and if I don't, I feel bad for not giving Gabe the attention he needs and wants. There's no winning here.

I don't really think there's an answer, and advice won't help; it won't be anything I haven't tried to tell myself a thousand times already. I take comfort in the knowledge that when it was just Sam, the "mommy guilt" seemed to ease up a bit as he got more independent. Perhaps it will ease again as Gabe grows and Sam adjusts more to the idea of sharing me. (He remains much more manic since Gabe's arrival, though not so much as he was during the early days.) I can hope, anyway, and I can struggle to find compromises that suit everybody. The juggling act is much more intricate than it's ever been, and I still fumble more than I like, though I'm not sure who doesn't.

Maybe I should start dosing my coffee with Bach's Flower Essences.

previous one year ago:
I feel like Sam: I can't.
two years ago:
I think I've done a pretty thorough job of alienating my husband tonight with petty pickings.
three years ago:
Since you're here for a visit, I thought it might be a good idea to show you around my house - you know, in case you need anything.
four years ago:
"You probably caught his attention since you're pregnant. Mmmm, yummy baby!"
five years ago:
It felt like crushing a rabbit beneath the tires of a school bus; he called me repeatedly, in tears, asking me to take him back, to not just throw away the six months we had been together.
In the ears:
Dead silence

On the Bookshelf:
The Lovely Bones

Gratuitous Sam

Titanic book


Fun on the potty

Extra Gabe

Foot rattles

Tummy time

Sitting up


©1999-2003 C. Richmond.