When you're pregnant, older and wiser people (like my OBGYN) tell you that children teach you patience. They tell you that after raising children you will be a more flexible and patient person than you were to start with. I think "unflappable" was the word she used. I keep waiting for this to happen. Because if there was one word to describe me lately it would be flappable.
Edie is going through what I'm sure is a perfectly natural phase of learning her boundaries. And I sometimes feel like all that either of us says to each other all day long is "no".
Me: No please don't pour your milk on the floor. No you can't watch a video right now. No, you need to eat at the kitchen table. Please do NOT throw your things.
Edie: No, I don't want to wash my hands! No I don't want to go potty! No I don't want to put my pajamas on! No bath! No it's NOT bedtime!
Edie periodically refuses to nap these days. It's not common, but it happens just often enough to get a rise out of me. Recently, when she refused to nap after a failed attempt at "Quiet Time" (that I will not go into except to say that when I finally went into Edie's room I found her wearing a dirty pair of underwear over her pants, her pajama shirt instead of her normal shirt, every single book on her shelf pulled onto the floor and that's not even the HALF of it) I found myself furious. Not furious at Edie per se, more like furious at the world. I had been counting on that time to do SO MANY THINGS! Or at least that's what I told myself. In hindsight, I can't really remember all of the things I intended to do during that time. Regardless, none of them got done.
And it turns out that the world continued to turn. Despite the lack of "things" I got done that day. I think part of the reason the last two weeks have been so difficult for me (aside from the obvious flu and sleep deprivation) is because I am spending a lot of my energy FIGHTING my life. I'm planning too many things that are not guaranteed and then counting on them as if they are owed to me. And then I'm so angry when those things are taken from me.
I think I'm supposed to be spending more time welcoming the "whatever" and going with the flow. God that made me sound like a hippy. But for serious! I read this post on GirlsGoneChild recently and it really made an impact. If I spend all my time trying to make my time with Edie fit into a certain set of plans I made, I'm only asking for heartache when other things happen. Why am I fighting so hard against something I have so little control over? How do I learn to LET GO?
So Edie isn't going to take a nap today! So what? Make another plan, do something different.
At 1pm today - Edie's normal nap time - I decided I wasn't up for the Nap Time Fight. I zipped us up in our puffy coats and we walked up to the neighborhood coffee shop, just us girls. I had no expectations because we'd never done this before the two of us. At least not this particular coffee shop, which is typically filled with quiet adults working on computers and generally looking like they expect peaceful, zenlike environs that are not conducive to 2 year-olds. I ordered her a chocolate chip cookie the size of her head, a giant mug of milk and myself an afternoon latte. Edie read the children's books in a basket by the door for almost 2 hours with almost zero attention required by me. I read the paper. Sipped my latte. Felt at peace. It was an unexpected pocket of peace for us and we both enjoyed ourselves immensely. Edie took a lovely nap as soon as we came back home - without a fight.
I guess I thought that having children was going to magically make me into this more flexible person my OB spoke of. But it turns out that this is very hard work. Learning to release myself and my child from a list of expectations - for the day, the week, for always - is not a skill magically given to a person through the process of giving birth. And I'm not going to pretend that I'm grateful for the hard work it's taking me to gain this whole skill of Letting Go. The truth is I wouldn't mind if it was just handed down to me from some higher authority on Peace and Patience. I would totally not look that gift horse in the mouth. But this is looking less and less likely the older I get. Right?