The New Normal
October 30, 2008
First of all, my dad is home from the hospital, and also, GO PHILS!
Thank you so much for all the "Noah = hideous, yet NORMAL" comments yesterday. If one could physically cling to hope via Internet Comments, I'd be that scrawny kid in gym class stuck halfway up the rope climb.
After I posted, we left to pick Noah up from preschool. He seemed like he was in a good mood, like we still had some time before the Wall of Nap, and we were out of diapers, so we decided EVER SO UNWISELY to go stroller shopping.
I hate the Big Box Baby Stores as much as anybody, but today marks the first time I ever left one sobbing.
I would consider the fact that we got out alive and with two packages of newborn diapers (SIZE ONES. I BOUGHT NOTHING BUT GIGANTIC SIZE ONES.) to mean the trip was a success, but once we got home I realized we're also out of Pull-Ups, and I promised to bring plates and utensils to the school's Halloween party on Friday, so I have to go out -- outSIDE. outSIDE of my HOUSE. -- again.
Plus, you know, the sobbing. Not really a sign of a successful shopping excursion.
Our original plan was to stick with our single stroller for as long as possible -- we figured when we all went out together we could SO TOTALLY HANDLE Noah in the Maclaren (or on foot, you know, because he's such a GOOD BOY) and Ezra in the snap-n-go dealie, and when going out solo we'd put the baby in a sling or carrier. This is still a smashingly good idea, were it not for the addition of Noah Version 3.0: Hellmonster Unleashed.
(And oh, lord, yes. We take our newborn places. OutSIDE places, even. We also let our snot-nosed three-year-old touch him, sometimes while the dog licks him and I pick up his pacifier off the floor and spit on it. You know, if we have company I need to impress with my mothering skills.)
Two weeks in and we've both already had more moments of frustrated, frazzled OMG I NEED THEM BOTH CONTAINED IN ONE SINGULAR CONTRAPTION than we were expecting. So! Double stroller time!
Our mistake -- beyond going there in the pre-nap witching hour in the first place -- was trying to get Noah to sit in the strollers we were considering. I can see that now. Involving him in any way whatsoever in our purchasing decision was just bad, bad judgement. He cried, he screamed. He arched his back and flailed. He kicked over the substantially stable Phil & Ted's. When strapped into the Joovy tandem he threw himself forward and got his feet on the ground and very nearly toppled the whole thing over on himself. His howls echoed throughout the store, sounding for all the world like a child being beaten within an inch of his life rather than one being bribed with Elmo books and Thomas trains to please, DEAR MERCIFUL GOD, just let me push you around the Bumbo seat display for one cotton-picking minute.
And there I was, trying to ask a nice salesman a few questions while clutching Ezra to my boob under a nursing cover, while Jason tried everything he could think of to calm Noah down and pregnant shoppers walked by with the fear of God Almighty in their eyes, and finally we realized that lo, this was BEYOND a bad idea, this was the seventh circle of HELL ITSELF, and opted to get the fuck out of there.
Outside, Noah continued to scream. We sat down on a bench and tried to get his coat back on, assuring him that dude, you're okay. We're okay. We're sorry. We're going home.
Aaaaaand...that's when he hit Jason. And then he kicked me as hard as he could.
I immediately lost it and burst into tears. Who WAS this child? What happened to MY child? My sweet, loving child who -- sure, is quirky and sensitive and has had public meltdowns before, no doubt about it -- would never, ever be this ANGRY and DEFIANT and downright MEAN. I LOVE my child, but I don't even vaguely LIKE this one.
Save for some weepiness in the delivery room at the sound of Ezra's first little squawks, I haven't cried since his birth -- something of an accomplishment, I thought, since I remember crying for probably two solid weeks after Noah was born. But I cried yesterday, because I'm so tired, and I feel like I must be doing something terribly wrong.
We came home and I immediately escorted Noah upstairs to his room. I ignored his shriek of NOOOO! when I asked if he'd like to read a story. I tucked him in and gave him kisses, and so did Jason. Then we climbed into his narrow little Ikea bed -- the SULTAN LADE bed slats creaking under our collective weight -- and cuddled with him under the covers for awhile. I felt like if I could just hold him tightly enough I could remind myself -- and him -- that some things will never change, that he is still my baby, that I still love him, that (oh God, please) this is just a phase phase phase PHASE, and that we'll get through it. Of course we will. The gypsies haven't been 'round these parts in AGES.
Then I came back downstairs and read your comments. So you can only imagine how much I needed to hear that this IS normal post-new-sibling behavior (and normal three-year-old behavior, like yaaaaaay), and that it will get better at some point. Just ride it out, continue to love on him and do special things (even if those special things, I.E. GOING TO THE MALL FOOD COURT FOR CHOCOLATE MILK AND RIDING ON THE COIN-OPERATED SCHOOL BUS, end in tantrummy disasters occasionally), be glad he's NOT taking it out on the baby or at school and remember that hell, you can TOTALLY get better prices on strollers online anyway.
I also realized how very, very badly I needed a break from him. We emailed our babysitter and -- after going back and forth and back and forth about whether Noah would be happy to have an evening alone with his favorite person ever...or be terribly upset that we were taking the baby with us and leaving him behind -- went out for dinner, just us and a sleeping lump in a carseat who didn't make a peep all night. I ate oysters. They was reallll good.
Of course, we spent most of the night talking about Noah, about our mistakes and frustrations, and then devising a Better, Stronger, Parentier Plan of more positive reinforcement and a heapload of Ignoring The Fuck Out Of Everything Else. You'll be happy to know that I quoted from the comments section generously, since once again, y'all remain my number-one resource for parenting advice.
Noah had been screaming when we'd left the house. When we came back, he was in bed, happy as a bowl of clam chowder. He told us about his peanut butter and jelly sandwich dinner and playing hide-and-seek. A few hours with an adult 100% dedicated to his amusement appeared to be a hugely calming force. Since it wasn't TOO late, Jason brought him downstairs for a Very Special Big Boy Showing of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. He cuddled and laughed and hugged Baby Brother and us. We watched the fireworks display from the World Series a couple times, to his endless delight. He was...NOAH, not the vile Pod Person we'd been dealing with all afternoon.
I have no idea which version we'll pick up from school today. Either way: dude, we love you. We're doing our best, as shitty as it may be sometimes. But we'll always try to do better tomorrow.