The day started badly.
5:43 “Mommy, Mommy! Me wake!”
It’s not unheard-of for a two year old to wake up early, even on a weekend (especially on a weekend). I know that. It’s just that at 5:43 I’m not in my most rational state. “How inconsiderate!” I think. “The nerve of that kid! It’s the weekend! She’ll wake up Milo!”
I vault out of bed and gallop to her room. “Naomi!” I whisper fiercely. “It’s still night time. Turn over and go back to sleep!”
“Huggie!” she demands. I touch her head lightly in what I hope is a “not worth calling for me again hug,” then wait for a couple seconds shivering in the dark. It seems to have worked.
Just as I was drifting off again Milo intruded with a whine. “Mom, I’m hungry.” I didn’t answer. I’m chasing that elusive dream, and besides, it’s futile. I told him he was going to be hungry in the morning because he didn’t eat his dinner last night. And I told him not to come to me begging for oats when I was still in bed. No matter what I tell him now, the squawking has started, the peace is shattered.
“Milo, close the door!” Jeremiah growls. He’s not pleased.
“But I’m hungry!”
“Get a banana and close the door!” The growl becomes a bark.
“But I want oats!” He’s persistent, I’ll give him that.
“Milo, CLOSE THE DOOR!” Jeremiah overestimates the power of his voice commands. Milo doesn’t care. He’s hungry. He wants oats. He is unconcerned about how we feel.
The dual continues at intervals for the next hour. I overheard Milo instructing Naomi to go ask us for oats, but she’s smart. She peers into our dark room, makes hesitant noises, then decides it’s not in her best interest to disturb us.
Finally Jeremiah abandoned the bed. I hear the bathroom door creak and the shower run for a long time. I stay under the warm covers. I haven’t slept for the past two hours, but the house is frigid and nothing pleasant awaits me if I emerge. Milo will win from sheer bullying. I always loose. I’m pissed. I don’t want to see him or talk to him.
Jeremiah returned to the bedroom to get dressed. “I give up,” I announce in despair. “We should just move back to the States. We need parenting help. We need to move next door to some grandparents.” I had never envisioned parenting being so difficult. I had thought that if you set firm boundaries, kids would respect them. I had thought that only lazy parents had horrible kids. Perhaps I’m a bad, lazy parent. Oh my God….I’m failing at parenting.
“That’s just you. You always give up,” Jeremiah stated. He went out to do his parenting bit, a stern talking-to for Milo regarding his morning’s inconsiderate behavior. I’m pretty sure the reprimand fell on deaf ears.
When I finally emerge the heat pump wasn’t working and I could see my breath. I made Milo his oats, refusing to engage him in conversation. I stare at him, stonily, and tell him I’m frustrated and I don’t know what do to with him. He eats his bowl of oatmeal, then a banana with peanut butter, then a second bowl of oats. Belly full, he’s sunny again. He won. I lost. I can’t regain my equilibrium, and at the moment I despise him.
“Well, I guess we had better mobilize,” I say to Jeremiah after we’ve both had a hot drink and he’s fiddled with the heat pump. Good thing we packed most of the stuff for our tramping trip the night before.
It was just out of Christchurch when Milo’s head tilted back in his car seat and he began to snooze. Naomi sang Happy Birthday for another half hour (she’s so much more cheerful than Milo) before she, too, nodded off. We listened to a podcast on aviation, pausing at intervals to converse. We started to feel better.
“Hey, do you mind if I take a walk? I just need a few minutes to myself,” I ask Jeremiah as Milo charges up the sledding hill. “Sure, go ahead,” he says. Naomi protests loudly.
I splashed across the creek, climbed up the track, then turned off to follow the bunny tracks through the snowy tussocks. I can’t hear Naomi wailing anymore. I stop to admire frost at hole in the snow, wondering who lives beneath. I climb to a shoulder where I can look over to the pass. The sun is warm, and the snow is clean. I feel that maybe I can do this mother thing a bit longer.