Adequate Warning

Thank you all for your compassionate words of support, empathy and understanding. I can’t tell you how much they helped. I can’t tell you how much writing that post helped–the processing it provided me. Yesterday I thought a lot about how it’s not so much Osita’s behavior that is making me so upset, but my own responses to it, so I worked really hard to respond to her in ways that felt appropriate. It was definitely difficult and there were moments I wanted to tear my hair out, but at the end of the day I felt better than I had in a long time. Mi.Vida and I plan on sitting down and talking about the kind of behavior we expect from her and the consequences we are comfortable enforcing when those expectations are not met. I think we’ll both feel more capable when we have a better understanding of what we need from her and what we are willing to view as acceptable 3.5 year-old-in-transition behavior.

Yes, yesterday was better for me, but it was really hard for Mi.Vida. I’ve been home with both kids for eight days now so I’m getting used to all-Osita-all-the-time-plus-Monito-needs-you-all-the-time-too and how overwhelming (and grating) that can be. Mi.Vida has not and I think it was a little jarring. Most of the time he was emitting this kind of toxic stress that was incredibly hard to be around, let alone support him through. I will admit that I finally reached my breaking point and was kind of a bitch about it. But seriously, I can barely hold my own shit together–I mean I’m already at capacity–and I just don’t have anything left in me to accommodate his inability to deal.

Luckily we ended the night with an honest–but difficult–conversation about how hard this transition has been for both of us. Mi.Vida kept mentioning how this is so much harder than he expected. He also kept repeating that he should have know–all his friends with two kids had told him that having another one was not like adding twice the work, but instead seemed exponentially more difficult–but he just didn’t let himself consider what that might mean. I admitted that I had read several books and did realize how hard it was going to be, but that I hadn’t mentioned it because I thought it would freak him out and make him panic. Plus I didn’t think it would help him prepare for the reality of it. I mean, knowing it was going to feel impossible didn’t prepare me when the feeling of impossibility smacked me in the face, and then just kept right on smacking me every day after.

I mean, can knowing really make it any easier when it actually happening? Most people understand that becoming a parent will fundamentally change their lives but that doesn’t mean they are prepared when it actually happens. Every child is different and we can’t anticipate how we’ll react to the needs of our children–or our partners–until we’re faced with those needs.

I knew it was going to be hard when we brought our son home, but I didn’t know exactly in what ways it would be challenging. I didn’t know how hard the transition would be for Osita, or how her distress would manifest. And while I had a good idea how Mi.Vida would react to the stress, I couldn’t foresee where I would be mentally or emotionally as far as being able to provide support. There are just too many variables, and like packing for an intensive hike in the mountains, one can’t possibly bring all the necessary provisions. There will be situations that we aren’t prepared for. I guess neither of realized that those situations would be occurring on a daily basis and that we’d ALWAYS feel ineffectual and ultimately incapable.

Our wedding is less than a week away and I couldn’t feel less prepared, both logistically and emotionally. At this point Mi.Vida and I are barely holding it together separately and as a couple we’re totally floundering. It’s not that I don’t think we should get married, I just wish we were at a stronger place in our relationship when we do it. There is nothing quite like standing in front of your family, with your relationship stripped to its foundation, declaring that you’re prepared to commit to this person for the rest of your life, when you’re not even sure you’ll make it through the next 24 hours, let alone the next 24 years.

My goodness, this is so much harder than I thought it would be. I suppose it’s good we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, if we did we’d probably have been too terrified to go through with it. And then we wouldn’t have this miracle in our lives. And despite all the struggle, he’s definitely worth it. And I suppose we will make it through.

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6 responses

  1. When my second child was just born (she just turned one), I remember thinking that my husband was just like another kid I had to deal with and that it would be easier if he would go away on a work trip or something.

    Another thing that happened with us is that I was the primary parent for our older child – not by design but in reality I was taking care of him 75% of the time – so when our baby was born my husband needed to step up and give up a lot of the free time etc. that he still had. For me the hard adjustment was #1, for him it was #2.

    Anyway, a long way of saying that it gets better. Hang in there and congratulations on your wedding!!

  2. Yep, no question you will make it through. But all of this does sound difficult. Behavioral issues with little kids can be so hard and frustrating. Harriet never fails to give us a run for our money. Sending you early congrats on your wedding!

  3. I feel like the cool part about a wedding is knowing who’s got your backs and who is serious about supporting your relationship. At least in our wedding’s case that’s how I felt about it because we were young and stupid and really had no idea what we were getting into and that’s been for the best. Surprises are so much easier than known misery. Probably. For me the wedding itself gave me a sense that we had a community to support us when we needed it, and times with little kids are certainly one of those. Use your community. Know that 3 year olds are often miserable no matter what so it may be some 3 year old shenanigans as well as new baby stuff. Glory in getting a break when you need it from whichever kid is getting on your nerves. That’s what your family and friends are there for – helping you survive one short trip to the store alone at a time. Many hugs. I think it gets better. At least it gets different.

  4. I didn’t have time to comment yesterday, but I keep hanging on to what everyone who’s been through it before tells me – toddlerhood sucks, but it starts to get better around 4-5. And I swear I read on a baby website that the behavior at the half-years tends to get worse as they gear up for the next developmental leap. Ugh.

    Hang in there.

  5. My hubby and I had a similar conversation about if being parents was all we thought it would be, etc. He told me that for him, being home over the Christmas break (he’s a band teacher) has been difficult for him. He’s struggling so much with Aiden (our oldest, 2 years old) and how to handle him. He says “I can handle 80 Middle School kids at once, but my own son stresses me out!” He also told me that sometimes he feels like he tries SO hard to do everything right with Aiden, but how it feels like it’s not enough some days. I agreed with him, being a parent to younger children can seem and feels impossible. I’ve been feeling really discouraged lately too. You are 100% correct when you talked about working on responding to your daughter appropriately. It’s just like with our students, we have to model the behavior we expect. It sounds like your hubby just needs some reassurance that he’s doing the best he can. It also sounds like you guys have a lot going on right now in your lives, with some big events coming up! Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! Your communication is awesome, keep talking to each other and stay open. Best wishes!

  6. Is there anything that family or friends can help with in terms of the wedding or watching the kids? This is definitely a stressful time for you guys, but as you have said before, it will pass. You can do this.

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