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Yesterday was a tough day. While Chris originally thought he’d be leaving work at 6:30 PM, he didn’t end up leaving until 8:15 PM, which meant he wasn’t home until 9 PM. A long day for everyone. Avery kept yelling for a balloon that was stuck on our ceiling. Chris could have gotten it easily, but it was impossible for me. Avery found that unacceptable. Braeden was with a friend much of the day and didn’t get home until around the same time as Chris. Avery wasn’t too pleased to be stuck with only me as her entertainment provider, and I felt stuck myself. I had a battle with a bag of chips and lost, which left me feeling slightly sick. Not being able to get out and walk compounded the issue.

I’ve been feeling frustrated lately by my inability to have any quality time with Braeden. I thought it was difficult when Avery was a baby, but I had no idea. She’s so much more demanding as a toddler. People think I’m lucky because I never had to deal with two toddlers at once, and there are dozens of things that are absolutely easier because Braeden is older. But nothing makes it easy to accept the loss of one-on-one time with Braeden. When we try to watch one of “our” shows, she yells for hers. We can’t play the games we used to because she gets into the pieces. Even when we try to cuddle on the couch, Avery wedges herself between us. I guess I notice the issue more when Chris is working. Since she’s such a Daddy’s Girl, Chris’ presence gave me at least a small window here and there to focus on Braeden. Right now I’m really struggling.

I know it’s the nature of things that a toddler is more demanding than a 10-year-old. Braeden is fairly passive, so he doesn’t typically complain about the lack of attention. But I know he feels it. I feel it as well. I hate that I don’t have greater control over the situation. Braeden’s de facto solution is to go to a friend’s house, which makes me feel terrible. I’d like to be able to take turns doling out attention, but Avery isn’t really at the level where she grasps that concept. Yes, I know it’s my responsibility to teach her, but as she isn’t even two, that’s likely to be a long process. I miss the days where I could sit with Braeden and read an entire Magic Treehouse book front to back. Things are different now. Granted, he’s moved on to the Percy Jackson series. He reads by himself, and even if he didn’t I wouldn’t be able to read a 700-and-something page book in one sitting. Still, I miss the intimacy. He’s turned from a little boy to a big kid, and during the same period Avery entered the picture. She brings a lot of joy – to her big brother as well – but she also drew an invisible line in all of our lives. There’s definitely a “Before Avery” and an “After Avery.” I appreciate all of the energy and wonder she brings, but I have to acknowledge that not everything has improved. There are moments where I am grinding my teeth with frustration because I can’t find one minute to have an uninterrupted conversation… with Braeden or anyone else. She seems to have a finely tuned sense of when I am trying to focus on anything or anyone but her. Even if she was previously distracted, she comes running.

And that Orange Rhino thing? I never made a commitment to even try. Forget going a year without yelling at my kids… I’d find it challenging to go a day, or even a freaking hour. Braeden doesn’t test me very often, but Avery? This beautiful little girl tests my patience on a minute-by-minute basis. I try to remember her age, I really do. But her obvious intelligence combined with my own limitations makes it easy to convince myself that she should be able to listen when I tell her something, damn it. My expectations get a little out of synch with reality, something that plagues me in many areas of my life.

I hope Chris gets home on time. I hope to avoid drowning my sorrows in a bag of chips, and I hope to walk tonight. Balance… an ongoing and seemingly elusive goal. Today I’d like to move one step closer, rather than taking several steps back.

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