This post is hard for me to write.
But, I’m really struggling right now with parenting two boys.
Not in a “I’m still sleep deprived” and “Having a baby is so hard” kind of way. But in a trying to show both of my boys how much I love them kind of way.
Jonah is my easy child right now. All he needs is a clean diaper, a good feeding, sufficient nap time and some snuggles. He smiles, he coos…he’s generally happy with the little life that he’s living. His days are almost completely scheduled out now and things are good for him. He’s a bit cranky here and there, but overall…we’re acing babyhood right now.
Noah is a different story these days.
And I hesitate to write this because he’s such a good boy. He’s a sweet, sweet kid with the biggest heart and the most genuine enjoyment of life. He’s thriving in school, loving his teacher and his new friends. He looks forward to the days that he gets to go to school and comes home all excited and eager to tell me about his days. He’s shown more interest in reading and writing and learning than I’ve ever seen. Preschool has opened up a whole new world for him both here and away from home.
It’s his temperament and his moods that have changed so much.
I feel like I’m parenting a tiny teenager. He’s cranky and emotional and throws tantrums.
In fact, Friday afternoon was really the straw that broke the camels back. I took him out to eat after school at the Pizza Parlor on base. We met the husband for lunch and were generally having a pleasant time. See, the Pizza Parlor used to serve ice cream. But, they remodeled this summer. And when they finished for one reason or another, they didn’t bring the ice cream back.
I didn’t know that. And I told Noah he could have ice cream when he finished his lunch. When Josh took him to get ice cream and they said they didn’t have any? It was meltdown city. I mean…huge fit. He screamed. And I don’t mean like just a whine or whimper…I mean an all out SCREAM.
You guys? I was mortified. Mortified.
I’ve never been a “my child will never act like that” mom. I don’t like to say “never” but I avoid it like the plague when it comes to referencing my kids and how they will or won’t act. But, that was seriously humiliating. I know I’m not the only parent whose kid has ever freaked out in public, but I wanted to crawl under the table. Everyone was staring at him and at us and all I could think was that they were thinking we had no control over our child. That we let him get away with anything and that he was a spoiled brat.
And he’s not. He’s really not.
When we got home and both of the boys went to sleep, I got mad. Not at him, but at myself and at everyone in that pizza parlor giving us the “Wow…you guys suck at parenting” glares.
I wanted to shake them all and say, “He’s a GOOD boy. He’s been the only child for four years and he’s still getting used to the fact that he isn’t alone anymore. Don’t look at him like that. Don’t judge him because he’s upset.”
And then I got mad at myself because it was just ice cream. And his reaction to the lack of ice cream was unnecessary. Then I again went back to the idea that I had told him he could have it and that when they didn’t have it, he didn’t really understand why when that place he’d been to so many times before had sold it.
I got upset when he told me that we “never get mad at baby brother” because I know he doesn’t get that his brother isn’t old enough to misbehave yet. Because in his eyes all he sees is us loving on his brother and holding him and kissing him…while he gets in trouble for being rude or throwing fits.
This battle went on for over an hour. Back and forth on who to be frustrated with and why.
I am so torn on disciplining and parenting and setting limits right now. I KNOW that he needs limits. I know that. And he has them. He gets in trouble. He gets time outs. He gets toys taken away from him. We do all of those things.
But my heart breaks at the same time because I know that these meltdowns? These freakouts? They are his way of saying, “Mommy! Daddy! Please look at me. Please pay attention to me right now.”
And that kills me.
We don’t have family here. Noah and Jonah don’t have grandparents close by to play with them and love on them. They aren’t around to keep Jonah for a few hours so that the husband and I can just be with Noah. Can just interact with him. I know that he needs to adjust to sharing his time and I’m not saying that we should or would leave Jonah time and time again to be with Noah. But right now I find it so hard to just give him time without interruption.
I want to just sit down with him without having to stop to feed Jonah or change his diaper. I want to sit and watch him write his letters and read him stories and build gigantic LEGO towers until he falls asleep from exhaustion. I want to play Angry Birds and talk about Transformers and watch him Spiderman leap off the couch for the nine millionth time…without having to tell him to “hold on” or “wait just a second” while I tend to an upset baby.
And I want to sit and hold my baby boy without feeling guilty. Without feeling like I should be spending time with his brother. I want to sit in the rocking chair or lay in the bed beside him until he decides he doesn’t want to lay there anymore and make funny faces at him. I want to watch him coo and cackle and tickle his little belly. I want to give him kisses without worrying that I’m upsetting his brother or that his brother is feeling like he’s not getting enough of my love and attention.
This mothering two things is hard. Gut-wrenchingly hard.
I know I don’t have to choose between the two of them. I couldn’t choose between the two. I won’t choose between the two.
But how do I divide my time and conquer these tantrums? How do I make my oldest feel like he’s still as important to me now as he was before his brother was born? How do I discipline him for bad behavior without making him feel like he’s being punished because he’s not the only child anymore…or that we love his brother more?
I know we’ll find that middle ground somewhere. Eventually.
But I hope it’s sooner rather than later. Because my hormones are on over drive and I don’t know how much more of this part of parenting two I can take.
And PS…those of you who do this with more than two children? You deserve a medal.