Zoe has this face she makes when she's trying to show she's not happy with something. She puckers up her lips in a sort of kiss/Elvis snarl, squints her eyes so that the blue is almost invisible and wrinkles up her nose - all while sticking out her chin in complete defiance. It's not the look I looked forward to seeing after carrying her for nine months. It's not really a look I think that insights others to run out and conceive a sweet bundle of joy of their own. It's a face that only her parents can love, I think.
But we've come to realize that this face is the lesser of the evils she is capable of unleashing - and I say that with a mother's love and understanding. I understand how hard it must be to be fifteen months old. I understand that she wants to touch anything and experience everything. I know how frustrating it must be to know exactly what you want with all your heart, but not be able to express yourself with the words that you hear daily. I understand. Really.
What can sometimes be hard to understand is the hitting. The grabbing things and throwing them on the ground, at the dog, in my face. Deep down I know that it's nothing personal. I know that she is not trying to inflict pain, but actually trying to be heard. I know that she loves me and I know that sometimes I get the brunt of all her moods because I am the one that is with her all day and night. I try not to get insecure when she listens to everyone else's "No" but mine. Deep down I know I'm a good mom and she's doing just great emotionally and developmentally.
But yesterday was rough. Yesterday had me text messaging Daniel in a panic requesting his presence at lunch. I was struggling as a mother. I felt like she was coming at me with every bit of her little self and pulling out all the stops. I wanted to cry. And when Daniel got home for a quick lunch, I did cry. Heaving sobs. I was drained and crying was the only thing that made it feel better. I felt like I was a failure as a mom. I felt like I was a jackass for thinking that I could do this. I could not believe I had the nerve to think I was good enough at this parenting thing to get pregnant again. All I could think was very soon it was gong to be two against one and then I was really, really screwed.
I was so stressed that I'm pretty sure that if Daniel hadn't needed to go back to work yesterday I might have jumped in the car and gone for a long drive to somewhere like Santa Barbara or something. I was so stressed that I kept imagining myself sitting on a beach somewhere sipping a margarita relaxing. Not so much because I needed alcohol, but because I couldn't remember the last time I had just kicked back and relaxed like that - oh, and there was also a big plate of nachos in my little fantasy.
But we got through yesterday. Zoe finally went down for a nap and woke up in a much less terrorizing mood - I mean she did wreak havoc last night and that led to a few time outs and some headaches for her parents, but we got through it together. Last night some limits were set. She learned that if she repeatedly hits the dogs - and/or us - and we're unable to distract her with her toys and books, she will be put in timeout. It broke our hearts, but we let her cry. And then, I held her and hugged her and told her I loved her and forgave both of us for our hard day.
Today, Zoe is a different girl. I'm not so sure it's because of those timeouts though. Part of me thinks she wanted to test her/our limits and now she's content for a bit. Part of me thinks that her hi jinks wore her out as much as they did me and she's just reserving her energy. Part of me knows that this is just life with a toddler, that this is exactly what I signed up for and that I can handle anything she or her brother throw at me.
I may not be the best mom out there, but I do know I'm doing a damn good job in raising her with Daniel. Yesterday was rough, but it certainly won't be the roughest we have together. About a week ago a friend told me I didn't make being a mom look easy/fun. I felt bad, but you know what? Loving your children is the only easy thing about being a parent. Being a parent is not always fun times, but the rough days are soon forgotten when your baby simultaneously hugs you and rubs your back. Those moments where they are resting in your lap, falling asleep, discovering a new toy, saying a new word... they make me remember there is no other way I'd rather spend my life.