Almost everyday, between the ages of one and two, I had to keep a constant ear out for my daughter’s distress call when she left my sight. I’d barrel forward in my day trying to accomplish my housework or do anything creative but I was always listening. At any moment I might have to drop my task for that tell-tale scream that meant she’d fallen over and hit her head and I had to run, not walk, to see if she was bleeding out from her head. On one occasion she actually was bleeding from her mouth. The one time you choose not to go and see is that one time you’ll regret it.
Injury is imminent every moment of the day from age one through two. You can not hover and yet you are on alert constantly. And I earned such a good case of post traumatic stress disorder that the twitch has come and gone and returned in my top left eyelid in the past couple months. That feeling of the imminence of the other shoe dropping has made Mommy-hood feel like trench warfare.
What’s worse is that I’ve got a girl who’s prone to drama. She knows how to lay it on a little thicker to hedge her bets. Good for her. She’s a survivor. Bad for me, twitch, twitch, twitch. Throw in a good fevered sickness which has me waking up several times at night doing the pogo Mommy reminiscent of the good old “trench” days of the newborn’s first three months and I’m beyond exhausted.
I get to feeling a little hopeless. Like this will always be the way it’s gonna be. And I don’t know how I’m gonna do it. Twitch, twitch, twitch goes the eyelid. And then stuff starts to calm down. I get the nap schedule back into place by sitting in her room in the chair until she stops crying at me and passes out. I take a day or two to go out with my friends to chat and do mindless girl things. I get my toes done finally. And I feel a little better.
And that’s just enough so that when she starts screaming at 5:30 in the morning, I’m not resentful and know she’s at least safe in the crib. And when she’s begun to cry in the other room with her brother, I wait a beat longer to respond because I know they have to work it out. And when she says Elmo Pooh Elmo Pooh Princess constantly at me to watch a movie, she may need to take a nap or Cookies Candy Cake Cookies Candy Cake at me over and over, you know she may be hungry.
And sometimes the best way to deal with her is just to ignore her however I can. Because it’s a little scary for a toddler to be at the control wheel all the time. Children may become overwhelmed because they have gotten everything they want and will continue to meltdown looking for restraints to make them feel safe. Sometimes she needs her keys taken away. And sometimes she needs to be given a lollipop and plugged into Elmo.