So I hinted yesterday that Maelle’s behaviour has gotten dicey lately. That was putting it mildly and understating it…by about a thousand. She’s borderline unbearable…and the blame lies no where else but our shoulders. There’s just something about a baby, isn’t there? All the excuses in the world, many more blind eyes, less attention to detail, more big picture…blah, blah, blah. She’s a menace who gets her way because she’s rarely been taught to expect different. Period. Ryan and I keep saying, “if we can get three of Bella, we’ll be fine…let’s just get there…” and onward and upward we struggle until it hits a brick wall and we wonder if we’ll ever summit this mountain of parenthood.
I got to sit outside this same door tonight and listen to Maelle cry, scream, wail until she gagged…and then cry some more. The discovery of a rogue orange marker making it into the room at bedtime & subsequently finding it’s way into Mae’s hands and quickly onto the pillow, the blanket, legs and arms and faces…that did it. Into the bathroom to wipe up, while tossing the pillow down the stairs to the wash. Older sisters got to stay in Mommy & Daddy’s bed and, of all the injustice in all the world, Baby Sister had to go lay down alone. In the other room, with nothing but a night light. Shock and awe for a two year old who so rarely gets punished.
I say that with great remorse and no exaggeration. She hasn’t been held to the same standard, and for that I am mostly to blame. I babied her and I coddled her and I oversimplified the process to avoid the meltdowns because I wasn’t with Mae as much as I was with the other two. I don’t feel guilt over the choices I made, but I do feel like I overcompensate for them. With her. Like the others know I love them and I’m still trying to prove it to Mae. Trust me, it sounds that dumb to me too. And yet, it does neither of us any good to keep up this charade. It is not making her love me more, it’s making her push me more. And that creates a tension where there need not be one. Isn’t this what our parents always taught us? The best way to teach someone the right way is by forcing their hand. I felt a breaking point as I stood there wiping orange marker off Maelle’s hand and knowing that if she got “Daddy bed” like she was crying for that I would lose…again. And this would go on forevermore until I had proven myself ultimately useless.
So I put her in the other room. In Annika’s bed. And as she wailed and wiped little streams of tears from her big ol blue eyes, I explained to her in the simplest language I could: “You cannot colour on things that are not paper. You cannot colour on Mommy’s bed, you cannot colour on yourself, you cannot colour on your sister.” Yes, Mumma. I not. I go Daddy bed naow? ”No, love. You were a bad girl, and bad girls do not get what they want. You have to stay here now and Mommy will see you in the morning.” But no, da Mumma! I da sowwy! I want a Daddy bed! No, no, nooooo! ”I know, baby. Wipe your tears, I’m sorry you’re sad. But you have to stay here.” ……and then I had to walk out. And close the door behind me and leave her to wail and screech as Ryan & I sat outside the door in silence, me with my head in my hands. And all I kept thinking to myself was this: stay the course. Just, stay the course, Alicia. This can’t last forever. She may puke, maybe. She may scream far longer than you think you can handle, maybe. But this is the right thing and you know it. She has to learn, in ways you can’t teach her. Stay the course. You picked it, you’ve lived it, now she has to as well. Stay the course.
And as sorry as I am that I had to relearn this when Maelle was two fricken years old…? I’m begrudgingly thankful for the reminder. That Ryan and I have picked a path of parenting our kids. We know it so well we don’t have to speak about it, there is no longer a discussion on “the way we’re doing things” it’s just an action now. But every once in awhile, we fall off. One of us tumbles a little further than the other (in almost every case when it comes to Maelle, it’s me) and we sit uncomfortably in the position of underdog for a little while until we catch back up with the mission. We are raising human beings after all- there will be tests around blind corners and we’ll get beaten up a bit. This was mine. It was small, and she literally screamed her fool head off for less than 15 minutes. By no stretch of the imagination is it the very worst I’ll ever endure. But in my head it was a victory of mine- a little more personal. That I can do what I promised I would do and it would not ruin the lives of those girls I adore. It wouldn’t even ruin mine.
I feel like with Mae I’m on a pretty constant uphill climb right now. She’s really incredibly defiant and I’m sadly more of a pushover than I have been in the past. I’m working on it. The honesty helps. It’s not a place of pride, but it’s something that I feel no shame in admitting. At least I’m noticing it at all, and she’s young and I’ve got time to steel my sissy nerves enough to take her on when there’s hormones blazing and opinionated friends to contend with.
Let’s not call it terrible twos, let’s just call it what it is: raising a person. And dudes, that shit’s hard work.