Friday, November 07, 2008

Sometimes, I Wish Parenting Was Just a Bit Easier

I have a four and a half year-old daughter and I am five months pregnant with child number two. There are times I wonder what the hell I was thinking by deciding to have another child. Tonight was one of those nights when I looked at my daughter, looked at my rapidly growing midsection, and then looked up to the heavens and I swear I saw God pointing at me and laughing his ass off. Don't get me wrong--I love being a mother. I LOVE it and that fact, along with wanting Grace to have a sibling, was my motivation for deciding to have another child.

Ok Aaron, those weren't my ONLY motives for wanting to have a baby. Chill out homey.

Sometimes, parenting is a proverbial walk in the park--there are times when Grace is so well-behaved and so sweet and so grateful and so loving that I wonder how I produced such a wonderful human being, and I rub my belly and just CAN'T WAIT for my son to be born so he can join in on all of this wonderful-ness. During those times, I close my eyes and bask in the happiness of my perfect, perfect life.

Then there are nights like tonight. I have been doing this mom thing for a few years now so I should know better than to drag Grace to the mall on a Friday night. Grace is tired on Friday nights from a week of school, I'm tired from, well, everything, and even Aaron was tired tonight from working insane hours this week. And, even on a day when everyone is well-rested and on their best behavior, a trip to the mall can be a daunting thing. The mall is a place that I am certain is designed to turn small children into money hungry, begging, whining monsters and it really should be avoided at if all possible. You put an exhausted child, exhausted parents, and a trip to the mall together and stir them up, and you have a recipe for disaster.

The night started off innocent enough. I wanted to hit the Motherhood Maternity store so I could pick up a swim suit (I can't squeeze into mine anymore and I miss getting in the pool with Grace at swim class). And, since we were going to be there anyway, we figured we would grab some supper at the food court and then Aaron could pop into Old Navy for some new jeans. While we were eating dinner in the food court, Grace asked if we could go to the Disney Store too, and even though a small voice in the back of my head was screaming, "Danger! Danger!!" I agreed because Grace has been doing a good job with sleeping in her own room lately and I thought a small treat might be in order.

We decided to hit the Disney Store first to get it out of the way, and as soon as we entered the store, it was clear things were going to end badly. Grace immediately spotted about 8,000 things that she had to have RIGHT NOW, and so I morphed into the evil "no" machine, which made Grace cranky. I told her that she could pick out one small thing from the sales area as a reward for going to sleep in her own room, and she quickly agreed. After much hemming and hawing, Grace decided on a Princess Ariel pillow for her bed and we went to the counter to pay. However, during the very short walk to the counter, Grace saw another forty things that she wanted, and by the time we actually got to the counter, she was dragging her feet and pouting because we wouldn't buy her anything else. Her sadness was bolstered by watching other kids' parents lugging bags and bags and bags of Disney stuff out of the store just for their little angels. Grace was bordering on tears and at this point, I considered putting the pillow back on the shelf and going home. I told Grace this and she straightened up for the time being. We paid and left the store.

However, on the way to Motherhood Maternity, Grace decided that she wanted to be the leader (this is a big thing for her) and threw a fit when I dared to walk in front of her. She started crying and it looked like we were headed for a full-on, child flinging herself on the floor tantrum, but Aaron quickly intervened and told her to pull it together RIGHT NOW or the Ariel pillow was going back to the store. Grace kept right on crying, except now she was saying, "Aarie hurt my feelings!" so I decided that we should probably end this whole fiasco and head home, but then Grace settled down quickly so we kept on shopping. We should have cut our losses and headed home--shouldn't I know better by now?

After an unsuccessful stop at Motherhood Maternity (maternity clothes are ridiculously overpriced and generally hideous), we decided to take advantage of the relatively calm situation and head to Old Navy. Another mistake. I spotted a display containing some lip gloss that was on clearance, so I headed over to pick some up. As soon as Grace saw that there was pink (pink!!) lip gloss, she was all, "But I can't have lip gloss, right?" which is her way of asking for something she wants because clearly I have somehow planted negative expectations in my child's brain. I told her no, she couldn't have her own tube (see, so negative) but she could share mommy's if she wanted to. Again, more crying, and I could see Aaron's pulse in his forehead, so I sent him off to shop by himself for a time while I attempted to distract Grace long enough for him to maybe find some jeans.

I should stop here to say that Grace really isn't a crier when she doesn't get stuff she wants. She is used to hearing "no". As a mom, part of me wants to give my child everything she wants, but then my reasonable side kicks in and reminds me that not only is it not feasible to give Grace everything she wants, but I believe that giving in to her every desire would be doing her a disservice. She needs to learn that she won't be able to get everything she wants to whenever she wants it and in general, when I tell Grace "no", she handles it well. No, Grace was crying tonight because she was just plain pooped.

Anyhoo, no jeans at Old Navy for Aaron, so we decided to make one last quick stop at Kohl's before heading home. No major blowups there, and happily, Aaron was able to find some stuff on clearance and I snagged two maternity tops that were less than $10 apiece. Woot, woot!! After we finished up at Kohl's we made our way back through the Food Court (where Grace asked for a Cinnabon and I said no---more crying) and headed home.

Grace was just about asleep when we got home, so I thought I would be able to get her upstairs and to bed without much trouble. I was wrong. Grace asked for a snack so I gave her a piece of string cheese, which she ate two bites of before deciding she wanted apple juice. However, I neglected to wait for Grace to watch me actually pour the juice in her cup, and because of this, Grace didn't see me throw away the empty juice container and cried because I didn't give her enough juice--she didn't see that I had given her all that we had left. Ugh. At this point, I decided that it was bed time, so I instructed Grace to go in the living room to get her jammies on. More foot dragging and pouting until I told her to get her butt in the living room to which she yelled, "Don't say 'butt'! It's a bad word!" Grace was reminded that she shouldn't talk back to her mother, and she promptly started crying again, wailing, "You hurt my feelings!!! You made me saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!!"

Finally, we got Grace ready for bed and I marched her upstairs. Naturally, as soon as she hit the pillow, she was asleep and as I gazed at my angelic-looking, sleeping daughter, I wondered when I would learn that Friday nights are no longer for going out--Friday nights are for staying in. When I think about the past several Friday nights, each time we have decided to go out and do something, either Grace or I or both of us have ended up in tears. Those Fridays when we have stayed home, things have gone well for us.

What am I going to do with two kids? When it comes to Friday nights, I'm not going to do a darn thing.


Mom said...

I though about calling you guys last night. I'm glad I didn't. Why not start a family tradition and make Friday night pizza and a family movie night?

Angie said...

Well, that could have been worse. She could have grabbed onto a church pew and screamed. :)