Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Father of the Year? Nope

Have you ever had one of those days, or a string of those days, where you just didn't feel like yourself? 

It could have been caused by any number of reasons.  Maybe you weren't getting enough sleep.  Maybe you had too much going on to where you couldn't relax.  Maybe you were just in a funk and thought things that didn't go your way should have.

I've recently been in one of those ruts for all of those reasons.
That's me, wallowing in self pity in my hole/rut.
It's not easy to get out of that.  For me, it was just getting worse.  My self-perceived hole was getting deeper.

I was exhausted.  My girls and I were playing and I knew I was being short with them.  I was trying to get them to entertain themselves so I wouldn't have to read the same blasted book for the umpteenth time (yes, I just used the words blasted and umpteenth in the same sentence). 

They clearly were not in any mood to be pushed away.  My doing so only made things worse.  If I wanted to maintain any level of sanity I needed them to stop throwing a fit.  So I read the book.  Every time I finished it, they would both give me the sign.  Again. 

Again, and again, and again.

I was fighting the urge to push them off of me and run for cover.  At one point, I may even have stood them up and told them to leave me alone for a few minutes.  I didn't think they'd understand what I meant, but they did. 

Brynne clinched her jaw as she fought back the urge to scream, shook her head violently back and forth in anger/frustration, and just stood there glaring at me. 

Hadley looked at me with those big, beautiful, blue eyes of hers welling up with tears.  She then told me "no".
How can you say "no" to this face?
That made me feel like a big bag of shit.

It also brought me out of my funk - at least for a little bit.

All my daughters wanted to do was: sit in my lap; turn the pages of one of their favorite books; point out the animals they knew while either making the appropriate sign or animal sound; hear my voice read the words they couldn't; and acknowledge/praise them for how much they knew and could do.

As I look back on the whole event, I still don't know if they were being selfish, too, or just wanting to hang out with their dear old Papa.  At one point I caught Hadley just looking at me.  Brynne was still turning/ripping pages and pointing out everything on the page while I recited the words.  Hadley was just sitting there with her head cocked so she could look up and back at me -  just staring at me.  If she could fully express herself, I imagine she would have asked me if I was okay now.

That might have made me cry a little.  Actually, it made me cry a lot. 

I don't know how long I sat and stared at her beautiful little face with tears running down my own, but it was long enough for Brynne to finish the book and hop up to get another one.  She got the book, gave me a pat on the back, plopped back down in my lap, looked up at me, and gave me a huge smile.  That broke the trance, and soon both girls were fighting over who got to turn the pages of the new (finally!) book.

And I was crying again. 

In the end, it doesn't matter if they were being selfish or not.  This is what matters:  my words and actions caused them to feel rejected. 

Try that one on for size.  I rejected my daughters when all they wanted was quality time with me.

How long will they want me to read to them?  When will I be the one asking to spend time with them, only to be told no, and to then feel rejected myself?  Why did I allow my frustrations with everything else in the world to impact our time together?

I don't know the answers to any of those questions.

Any advice as to how to either avoid the rut or get out once inside it (other than drugs and alcohol)?


MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

First, say no to drugs and alcohol...or at least drugs. A little alcohol after the girlies are in bed won't hurt...and may even be advisable. ;)

Second, cut yourself some slack. I imagine every parent can imagine how you were feeling. We've all been there.

Parenting is a full-time job. Along with infinite joy there are challenges. Sometimes those challenges arise from having an adult perspective in a toddler world...what can be incredibly monotonous for us is just what makes a toddler tick.

What helps me in such situations is to force a change of pace. There are times I CANNOT READ THIS BOOK ANOTHER TIME.

"I have an idea!" And the girls will get excited, forgetting - at least for a moment - that I owe them the 17th consecutive reading in 51 minutes.

Turn on some music and dance and sing like a crazy person. Crawl around the room on your hands and knees, alternately surprising your girls with tickles.

It definitely helps me to get my blood circulating. Fake it 'til you make it, if you have to...and you will make it...and probably wind up with some genuine giggles on your part...and the part of your girls.

And fresh air always does a body good...mine, and my girls'. I love getting out for a walk when we can.

Or, if the weather doesn't permit and times are "desperate" [for me], I'll load them in the car to at least run through the drive-thru at the bank, or get myself a coffee. Drive by a farm and point out the cows, or by the school and point out the buses; play some music and sing along; and you can even bill it as a "learning experience" for the girls.

Chin love your girls...and they know that without question.

Lies said...

Don't beat yourself up about this. Only two days ago I say my boyfriend wrestle with exactly the same feelings. He just DID NOT want to read that same book AGAIN! He actually ran away. Our daughter (1,5 yo) ran after him, with the book. And soon the running became the game itself and she forgot all about the book. And although he REALLY meant the running-away part, he made it into something positive and she never noticed. But I saw his face and I know him really well, so I knew :-)

Helene said...

Oh man, I'm soooo guilty of doing this too. And then yeah I feel so bad after wards.

Sometimes I'll suggest playing a game that I know they'll enjoy but that will get us up and moving so we're not having to sit and read a book. Or I'll have them act out a scene from the book. I know your girls are still young but maybe you could have them act out like an animal and you have to guess which animal they are.

I don't know, just something to differ the routine a little, while giving yourself a bit of a break but still being able to spend quality time with them.

But don't be so hard on yourself. All parents go through this. We give of ourselves so much that we can't help but want just a little bit of time for ourselves where we don't have to read the same book for a 100th time in a row.

Helene said...

Oh, just thought of another idea! Do you have any books on CD??

My kids used to love those! We'd sit and hold the book together but the CD would "read" the book. That way we could all spend time together but I could just sit and stare at the book with them while the CD did all the work.

Everyone's happy.

Melissa Ann said...

Thank you for your tender heart... I'm here with you too... every single day. And some days I cry more than they do ;) Thanks for sharing your heart. It's courageous.

Emmy said...

If you figure out a magical solution you will be a millionaire as we all go there and it is hard- so hard to get out. I try and remember the good times, or even the times that I regret what I did and remember what I really want and what is important.

championm2000 said...

Ditto everyone else.

I'll add...

The fact that you could step back and reflect is huge. I would guess many of us do similar things and we don't even realize the impact.

I have been there. Distraction works. I also sometimes enlist their "help" with whatever it is I think I MUST do at that moment...send last work email of the day, wash dishes, cook, etc...Most of the time that looks like me talking them through what I'm doing. Nothing magical.

PS_Don't tell Emily I once hid Mother Goose because I just. could. not. read. it. AGAIN.

Olusola said...

I'm a little too novice-y at this parenting thing to have any words of advice but I will say don't be too hard on yourself. Your babies love you just as much as you love them

GypsyFox said...

I think all parents are guilty of feeling guilty for wanting just 5 minutes to themselves, I'm guilty of this every 5 minutes lol. & We all get into "ruts" & what gets us out of them, usually big beautiful innocent eyes, like your Daughter's'. :)

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

I can't quit thinking about this post. I just had to pop back over to say -- at least from my perspective -- it's OK for you to take a break, too.

I try to prepare the girls in saying, "We'll read one more story [or whatever], and then Mommy needs to drink a glass of water [or whatever]."

[Staying really hydrated helps me keep my head on straight, I've found.] ;)

They usually get it, but there are times they fuss. While I don't want to disappoint them, I believe they need to experience the fact that we all have needs...moms and dads, included.

And it's really important for me that our girls learn to entertain themselves, too. Growing up as an only child, I of course did a lot of that...and I think it's a valuable skill.

Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 said...

Love this post b/c it's so honest and we've all been there. That is when I typically turn to arts and crafts, going outside, or just doing something DIFFERENT! We get in these ruts that are so mind-numbingly boring that we end up in tears...and over what?

I agree with MandyE about staying hydrated...seems silly, but is very important.

Sometimes you just need a break too (which is why I love the gym...built in childcare and I'm forced to work out).