Charlotte was in our bed this morning when I opened my eyes. She had an accident in her bed last night, and rather than peeling back sopping layers on her bed, we just changed her and put her in bed with us.
She woke up so happy. Rolling around and goofy in her mismatched, grabbed-from-the-drawer-in-the-dark-of–night pajamas. She was smiling her brightest smile with shining eyes, cooing at Twix, who was cuddled on Charlotte’s pillow. I watched her, and thought about how she is truly just a beautiful child. Inside and out. When Charlotte smiles, everyone smiles.
Soon, we were forced from our little cocoon of wiggly cuddles into the throes of the morning routine.
“Mama, can I watch Blaze on my computer please?” she asked as she swung her legs out of bed.
“What are the rules in the morning? First potty, then breakfast, then you get ready for school. If we have time, THEN, you can have your computer for a bit.”
I knew in that instant that it was all over. My happy, beautiful child was about to transform into a kicking, screaming, emotional wreck incapable of reason. I was right.
The next hour was basically one series of standoffs and horrific tantrums after the next. She didn’t need to go potty. She wouldn’t. She was going to go pee on my bed. I’m a bad mom. She wants Little Mama RIGHT NOW.
Then, she told me she wished I wasn’t even alive, and then she could just be with Little Mama. That was basically the lowest blow she has ever dealt. I walked away.
Within a minute, she was pleading with me to come back. “Don’t leave me alone! I DON’T WANT TO BE ALONE!” she screamed for the world to hear.
All I wanted in that moment was to be alone. If I could have blinked and made her disappear to preschool, I would have right then.
After something like 45 minutes of this battle of wills over going potty and getting dressed, she grew tired. At that point, I don’t even think she knew what she was fighting about. She was just screaming for the sake of screaming. She grabbed her sunshine blanket and tearfully crawled into my lap and laid in my arms like she did when she was a baby. I rocked her a bit as we talked quietly about making good choices and about how there are consequences for bad choices. She closed her eyes and cuddled into me.
Now, she is at school. I told her teacher that she’d be staying for extended care this afternoon and that I’d pick her up around 4. Her teacher just posted a photo of her dancing with one of her best friends and their smiles are total perfection. I miss her, now. It’s pouring rain outside and the thunder is so powerful that it’s shaking the house and causing the power to surge and flicker on and off. I keep thinking about how I could go pick her up from school and we could spend the day cuddled up on the couch watching whatever Nick Jr. shows she wants with a giant bowl of freshly popped popcorn.
I’m sharing this because I can’t be the only mother in the world who feels like having a three year old is a bit like being in an abusive relationship. They smile and you melt because they are just so lovely. That smile gives you life. Then, they turn around and spew their unique brand of emotional abuse, and when it’s over, they need you to comfort them. You know you need some space, but you are addicted to that smile and find yourself craving it the moment they’re away.
I love my daughter more than anything in the world, but there are mornings like this when I wish I could just curl up with the dogs and a bottle of champagne and forget about my parental obligations for a while. A few days? Maybe a week? Just long enough to relieve the ever present crick in my neck from sleeping with my arm around her because if I don’t, she will scream, “SNUGGLE MEEEEEEE!” until she wakes up the whole neighborhood.
Parenthood. It’s the only abusive relationship that binds you both legally and morally.