Do you remember that Staples commercial with parents dancing though aisles as they shopped for back-to-school gear to the holiday tune The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?
Two weeks off school is enough to drive a mom mad. This mom, anyway. And for us, one week of it was spent at my parents’ place so Sean and I were not solely responsible for entertaining our children; week two had them in daycare three days (two because I worked, the other because…well, see the first line of this paragraph).
A quick look at my Twitter feed assures me that I’m not suffering alone in kid overload. Is there something wrong with us? Wasn’t this whole parenting thing supposed to be fun? Shouldn’t two weeks with your children over the holidays be the ultimate in family bonding time?
Instead, the last week in particular felt relentless. There wasn’t space for one of my own thoughts amid the wanting, asking, needing all day long. The talking on top of each other. The new toys all over the place. The endless need for food — I could barely clean up after a meal before snacks were being requested. The constant “will you play with me?” and “Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy! MOMMY!” Anna hasn’t stopped talking for the last four days, I swear. Avery’s most uttered word is “Aaaaaannnnnnaaaaa!” in her best whine.
It would help — so, so much — if they could just get along. There were a few days that went smoothly. OK, maybe two. Luckily, we were able to get out a lot with the mild weather, and things are much better when we’re out. We went to the park and to the movies, swimming, and skating and that was all lovely. Otherwise, all it seemed to take was two consecutive minutes without us in the room before the screaming would begin. It started off with the usual sister stuff — “Anna hit me!” and “Avery took my Barbie!”— but by today has sunken to the ridiculous — “Anna kissed my boo boo and hurt it!” or “Avery’s tooting and blaming it on me!” So, while Christmas holiday Part I was pretty great, Part II has consisted of lots of teeth clenching, time outs and separating siblings.
Anna needs her routine. If I ever doubted it, it’s abundantly clear now. She is having a pretty rough couple of days, mostly motivated by Avery’s refusal to share her new Baby Alive doll. Anna tries, but her tolerance for what she deems injustice is extremely low. I’m trying to praise her to the moon when she’s using her nice words and normal voice, instead of her high-pitched angry voice (like nails on a chalkboard, my friends), but I think she’s had her limit of trying to get along with her sister.
I’ve got to give Avery credit — she puts up with a lot. She’ll stand her ground when it’s important, but she seems to sense when giving in will make it all blow over, and does it. That’s not to say she’s an angel — she’s the typical bratty little sister when she wants to be, and she’s turning into quite the fibber these days! — but in a relationship of give and take, she’s certainly the giver. Survival instincts?
Sean has been the true angel in all of this, taking the girls away when he senses I’m about to lose it, and I was grateful for a visit from my mom this weekend. The girls needed someone “fresh.” She loves to play with them, and then she stuck around so Sean and I could go to the movies (The Descendants – we liked it and the Hawaiian locale reminded me that I really need a vacation).
Anyway — enough whining from me. Back to work and school tomorrow so we can all take a breath. I’m sure the return to routine and a little space from each other will help us fall into a better groove.
Tell me I’m not alone?
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