“You Never Know What Battle Someone is Fighting”

A friend asked me yesterday if I was still blogging regularly. I told him I was “too busy” right now (we’re in the middle of a move). I started rambling, as I often do with this friend, and I told him (somewhere in the ramble) that sometimes I just feel like a real shitty parent, and when I feel like a shitty parent, I don’t want to blog about parenting.

But then last night, as I was folding laundry and drinking my second glass of wine and binge-watching New Girl, I got to thinking…

Aren’t those the times when I should blog?

Story I: Peescapades

Somewhere in the mix of these thoughts, Cheeky, Jr. started fussing in his sleep. I went to check on him, and what did I find? A BIG puddle of pee on the mattress (how he stores such a large amount in that tiny body is beyond me).

I pulled off the fitted sheet, soaked up the remaining puddle with a towel, threw CJ on the potty to get whatever else out, and cursed myself for not waking him up to go earlier.

Fast-Forward to Morning

I get pretty lazy during the night and early mornings (CJ wakes up at an ungodly hour), which means his potty is usually pretty full before I dump it (there’s, like, a white base-part of this potty, and then a blue removable bucket-type thing where he actually pees – the bucket holds quite a bit, actually).

As I’m running around our (boxes-everywhere) house this morning, trying to get everything together so CJ and I can leave for the day, I walk into the living room to check on the nugget.

Guess what I found!

Another GINORMOUS puddle of pee – and CJ standing DIRECTLY in the middle of it, blue bucket in-hand.

“No, no, no!!!” I yell, running toward CJ.

At this point, it’s apparent CJ also regrets his decision to remove the bucket from its base, because he starts getting a little frantic as he tries to figure a way out of his self-induced (on all accounts) mess.

In the process of finding a way out, however, he slips and falls, face down, into this huge puddle. His sweatshirt is soaked. He is soaked. I attempt to pick him up in a deadlift stance (as to not step in the puddle myself), but instead of a solid weight, I’m lifting a wiggly, slippery, squishy toddler. I lose my balance and end up stomping right into the puddle. I finally get him off the ground, holding him a foot away from me (so I don’t have to join him in the bathtub), but of course the door to the bathroom is closed, and the shower curtain is spread out (rather than drawn to one side, as it usually is). I place CJ on his feet twice in the process of getting to the tub, and I think, great, more spots to clean. 

(Somehow, Papa Cheeks “missed” this whole scene while washing dishes in the kitchen – a solid 10 feet away)

Me: (after CJ safely made it to the bathtub) “Can you help me out here?!?”
PC: “What, exactly, do you need help with?”
Me: for you to lose the ‘tude, bro.
Actual me: (still yelling) “Well, you can either give CJ a bath, or you can clean the pee! Totally up to you, but they both need to be done and I can’t do it all at the same time!”

Naturally, I headed back to the living room, with towels and cleaning supplies in tow.

And then:

PC: “Toilet paper!! I need toilet paper!!”
Me: (elbow-deep in my son’s urine) “OKAY!!! Can you hang on a second??”

When the cry for toilet paper evolved into the likeness of a chant, I quit sopping up CJ’s puddle and ran back into the bathroom.

Low and behold: A firm turd, perfectly laid out in the middle of the tub.

Dear potty training parents: rebel against the laziness, and dump – that – pee.

PS: The guilt I feel for yelling at CJ is still pretty prominent. After the whole ordeal was taken care of, I realized CJ was only doing what he’d seen me do tons of times – dump the pee into the toilet. The little nugget was trying to help. Instead of praise, he was yelled at, stripped down, thrown into the bathtub, and yelled at some more (for pooping in the tub). Ugh! This week has been rough on all of us.

Story II: A ‘Real Shitty Parent’

As I previously mentioned, our family is in the process of moving. I’ll spare you some details, and just say that Papa Cheeks and I packed up our things and moved within two days – practically by ourselves – Easter weekend.

Thankfully, Papa Cheeks has a super supportive family that lives about 30 minutes away from us, so they offered to take CJ off our hands to allow us to move.

(let’s be real – the move wouldn’t have happened without them)

Flash-back to Easter Weekend

After an exhausting two days of packing our things, moving furniture and boxes, and cleaning what we could, we were finally able to sleep at Papa Cheeks’ parent’s house in order to wake up with CJ on Easter Sunday. It was the longest I’d ever been without Cheeky, Jr, and I was dying to see him.

We arrived at 11:00 pm, after going non-stop since 7:30 am. I walked into the Master Bedroom where CJ fell asleep, and found him in a puddle of pee.

(OMG SO MUCH PEE! We’re potty training, okay?)

It dawned on me, at that moment, I had forgotten to give Oma Cheeks (Papa Cheeks’ mom) the run-down of CJ’s new potty-training rule: nothing to drink within an hour of bedtime.

Of course, she had given him a bottle of milk right before bed.

I did the same thing I always do, and I put CJ on the potty. While he was on the potty, I stripped off his wet clothes, and I waited to see if he had anything left in him.

Unlike the usual grogginess-and-back-to-sleep routine, he screeeeeeeamed and screamed. Boy, did he scream. He screamed from the potty to the upstairs bedroom, and then he screamed some more.

I was heart broken. I hadn’t seen him in two days, and that was our first encounter.

And then the should and should-not-haves started flooding my mind: I shouldn’t have done that. I should have woken him up softer, I should have given him some love before I threw him on the toilet, I should have put dry clothes on him before I threw him on the toilet, I should have stripped him and put him back in bed… he clearly already peed everything out, I should have… 

I wanted to cry. I had looked forward to snuggling my baby boy all weekend, and as soon as I had the chance, I ruined it.

He finally fell asleep (after what felt like an hour of screaming), and I went downstairs. I sat at the table and ate dinner. It was 11:30.

Defeat was the only feeling I had left. Defeat, and exhaustion.

Then, Oma Cheeks comes over and tells us what CJ is wearing the next day. She has an Easter basket already laid out for him on the stairs. She exclaims how excited Auntie Cheeks (Papa Cheeks’ sister) is to to bring him to an Easter egg hunt at church with her two kiddos, where I wasn’t exactly planning for him to go, because the dogs were going to be in their crates, overnight, 30 minutes away (and I wanted to hang with my babe).

At that point, it didn’t matter this was the first holiday I planned for CJ because he was finally old enough to enjoy it. It didn’t matter I had bought him an outfit three weeks prior, just for this occasion. It didn’t matter I had toted all three bags of CJ’s Easter goodies to Oma Cheeks’ house so we could all celebrate the Easter bunny’s gifts and candy-filled eggs. It didn’t matter I wanted him to have his own little Easter egg hunt at the house with the eggs the “Easter Bunny” was going to hide for him.

None of it mattered, because they already took care of it, and because no one asked.

Again, I felt defeated. I felt over-ruled. I felt entirely replaceable.

I was exhausted, and I was frustrated. I knew my exhaustion played a part in my frustration, but it didn’t matter. My blood was boiling… I had planned all this for my baby, and none of it was working out.

I went to bed, hoping I’d feel better in the morning.

I did. Sleeping next to my little guy definitely helped sooth my woes, and I woke up feeling a little less possessive. This is his family, I thought, they’re just excited to have him around and to be a part of his life.

…So I let it go.

But then…

CJ peed on the floor of his Oma’s living room, behind a chair, on purpose, for whatever reason I still don’t understand.

And then, as I was gathering supplies to clean that

He poured out all of his Fruit Loops I just handed him – onto the kitchen floor.

If he wasn’t defiant enough already, he bent down and slapped them in all directions with both hands – covering the floor in multi-colored cereal.

I have been working with him at home to pick up his toys, clean up his food, etc. So, when he made this intentional Fruit Loop mess, I asked him to pick up the cereal and put everything back in its container.

Resistance lead to more resistance which lead to a tantrum.

Eventually, I cleaned up both messes, and was not only frustrated with Cheeky, Jr, but I was also very embarrassed. He rarely acted like this at home, and only when he was suuuuuper tired.

Why was he doing this now, in front of Papa Cheeks’ mother, who also claimed he “never” (HUGE emphasis on never) “acts like this with [her].”

He was still tired. He must have been tired. He just didn’t sleep enough. It’s the only explanation.

…But that’s not how I felt.

I felt like the biggest failure. I felt like I couldn’t control my child. I felt like my child respected everyone in the family but me. He was on his best behavior all weekend, right? But the second he sees Mom, it’s game over – a free-for-all; he developed a pee on the floor, throw cereal on the ground, do what I want attitude… and I didn’t know how to handle it.

How had I created such a volatile relationship with my own not-even-two-year-old boy?

And THEN, after a few different (failed) attempts at taming my crazy child, (and as if I didn’t hate myself already)…

Oma Cheeks: “You know, I see both of you in CJ. You and Papa Cheeks are both very strong-willed, stubborn people (yes, ok, we’re definitely those things…*nod of the head*) and I think someone like that needs to have someone in charge” (end of agreements *silence*).

To keep myself from feeling like I was on fire with every word that could have come out of my mouth, I stopped talking, and I took a breath (and then another, and then another).

It’s not worth it, I said to myself. You’re probably over-reacting. Calm down, and if it still bothers you next time you see her, bring it up then. Cool down first. 

And so, for about an hour, I was quiet. I texted who needed to be texted, I enjoyed my son’s time, I was respectful to Oma Cheeks and her home, and I waited for us to leave.

She ended up calling me out on being upset. I told her I felt she implied CJ doesn’t have anyone in charge at home, that I just let him do what he wants, and that it’s not fair for her to assume such a thing when she only sees how I handle him when we’re around her – she has no idea the way we deal with discipline or anything else when we’re not at her house.

We ended up making amends, but I was hurt.

I wasn’t hurt because I felt she passed judgment on me. Oma Cheeks is very opinionated, but it comes from a good place. She only wants to see the best for her family, and because she is so invested in them, she voices her (sometimes unsolicited) concerns about everything and anything.

I was hurt because I already felt like a bad mom, and she was the voice that said, “yeah, you are.”

CJ ended up going out for the Easter egg hunt with Auntie Cheeks and his cousins, which brought him home right around nap time, so I (attempted to) put him down for a nap.

Bring on yet another tantrum! It took about 20-25 minutes (normally a 10 minute to-do), just to get him to cry himself to sleep.

As you can imagine, when he did finally fall asleep, I cried, too.

The entire afternoon was a clusterfuck. It continued on the same path all day. There’s more I could include in this post, but I think you get it: CJ was defiant, I felt like a bad mom, and no one seemed to be in my corner.

Papa Cheeks and I even ended up yelling at each other, which never happens (at least he never yells at me… that calm, collected man that he is… argh).

I broke down – uncontrolled tears streaming down my face, doubts running through my mind, wishing I could just crawl in a hole somewhere.

… And then I ended the day with way too much wine, calming myself, and enjoying the rest of the evening with our family, and my son who apparently runs our household.

(but, like, what toddler doesn’t?)

The Moral

You know the saying, “Be kind – you never know what battle someone is fighting”? Well, I think these two stories kind of shed some light on that very idea, don’t you?

You never know when a mama is about to break.

You never know when a mama feels like she doesn’t deserve her baby/ies.

You never know when someone needs to hear, above anything else, “Don’t give up, you’re doing great.”

You never know when an innocent opinion could be the very thing that validates a person’s doubts.

You just never know…

…So, be kind.

– Momma Cheeks.

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2 thoughts on ““You Never Know What Battle Someone is Fighting”

  1. Hi, I stumbled upon this blog because I was curious about my sister telling me she was going to start using cloth diapers, but after reading it I feel like I should tell you that you might want to check out a site that helped my wife manage a relationship with my mom…a woman who probably means well but sometimes is (unintentionally) hurtful, crosses boundaries, and makes my wife feel like she’s failed at being a good wife/adult: reddit.com/r/JUSTNOMIL

    It’s helped us set and enforce boundaries (no more holidays have been hijacked, like it sounds like Easter was for you), and helped me to support my wife better and have her back when my mom makes little (unintentional) digs at her I didn’t always pick up on in the past.

    Like

    1. Thank you, this is very thoughtful, and it’s nice to see I’m not the only one who can feel insecure about in-laws’ judgments… I also hope you’ve found your answers to cloth diapers. If not, I’d be happy to answer any questions you might still have! Thank you again!

      Like

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