The Trouble of Two

Words haven’t been easy to come by. That’s not quite right. It’s time that hasn’t been easy to come by these days.

I’ve got plenty of words. Most of them have four letters. The one I use the most has ten.

F-R-U-S-T-R-A-T-E-D.

Everything seems tricky these days. Even eating lunch is a full scale production that takes nearly an hour. Getting the three of us dressed and ready in the morning? 45 minutes on a good day (2 hours the other day. 2 HOURS.) And don’t get me started on naps. And that’s just the normal things we have to get done every day.

Our home, our life, even my car seems to be disorganized, disheveled and chaotic.

It sucks.

When Cedella was born and I was learning how to be home and how to fill our days and how to get along in a new city, life seemed so incredibly hard.

And then being pregnant chasing a toddler was just so challenging.

We walked into the house from the birth center on the day Isora was born and perhaps a bag of crazy followed us in the back door. Cause it’s been pretty cuckoo ever since.

Truth is that The Biz is only 8 months old. Only 8 months old? And holy shit she’s already 8 months old.

Seems like once I recovered from her labor we were fast to get into a routine and our leisurely pace to things. The three of us took naps together, or I let the girls sleep and was actually able to ::gasp:: mop the floor! It was as if Isora had always been in our family and our lives hadn’t really changed too much.

We had a summer full of travel and playgrounds and pools and fun. And maybe because we were so busy and so relaxed about things I didn’t see the Beautiful Monster growing right beside me.

Cedella is 2 years and 10 months old. And she thinks she runs our household. Over the past year as she has grown in independence, she has grown in bossiness. The more she learns the more she feels empowered and the more she thinks she’s in charge of all of us.

In the first few months of Isora’s life, Cedella was never mean to her sister. In fact she smothered her with love and affection. She reserved all of her anger and meanness for Michael and me.

But for the past month, now that Isora is sitting, crawling, standing and getting into everything? Cedella is being downright nasty to her sister. There’s a lot of snatching toys out of the baby’s hands, pushing the baby over, tackling her to the ground, shouting in her face. Which means there’s also a lot of shouting and time outs happening.

I talked all about the gentle discipline methods that we try to use in my guest post on Hormonal Imbalances The Gentle Road… and we are still very much attempting to practice these methods but it is just HARD.

There are moments when it takes every single cell in my body wants to grab my child, throw her over my leg and spank her butt. But I know that I just can’t do it…because I have. And it was HARDER.

Yes. I spanked my child. I was trying with absolutely no success to get her to settle down and stop messing with her sister. She began screaming “NO!” at the top of her lungs and just wouldn’t stop. She started screaming right into her sister’s face and Iz started crying. And I grabbed her, put her over my knee and smacked her little behind sharply three times.

The air in the room seemed to change. Her whining became a full-fledged cry of pain. When I sat her up and looked at her face she was bright red. She was gasping for air and she wouldn’t look me in the eye. Tears streamed down her face and I had an instant and guttural memory of being spanked as a child.

I grabbed her and picked up Izzie and held them both in my arms, all of crying and shaking and screaming. I knew I could never put her through that again. I couldn’t put myself through that again.

So I try. I really really try to be more patient. Not to immediately raise my voice. To look at things from her perspective. To let go of the small things and laugh things off. But I can’t handle the violence between the girls.

I know siblings fight. I’m not expecting them to always get along and never argue. But this early? It’s just too much. And it’s all Cedella being aggresive right now. What’s going to happen when Iz gets big enough to fight back? I shudder to think.

At this point I don’t know how to get anything done if I can’t even put Isora down for a few minutes without Cedella giving her a black eye. Load the dishwasher? Can’t do it with Izzie in a carrier and can’t do it with Izzie on the floor. Something as simple as loading the dishwasher becomes a major problem and takes three times as long.

Organize the toys? The second they’re all away, Cedella takes them all back out again.

Put the books on the shelf? She’ll take them all down.

Clothes hung in the closet? She decides to put on a fashion show and take everything off the hangers.

And poor Izzie. I spend so much time talking to and disciplining Cedella that the Biz always gets the short end of the stick. And right now she’s going through a growth spurt, wants to nurse constantly and will not be set down. Ever.

I can’t pick up my phone to make a phone call without it directly signaling at least one of the children to have a melt down. I cannot go to the bathroom without an entourage. My house is a complete disaster area and I’m pretty sure there’s a whole other dog’s worth of white fur on my floors. I can’t find clean socks or underwear for the kids because if they’re clean they’re in a laundry basket and if they’re dirty they’re in a laundry basket and it’s hard to tell which is which some days.

I know that with Cedella I really didn’t start feeling like a had things together until around 11 months. And then she learned to walk and got a mouth full of teeth at once. And all our scheduling and sleeping and organization went to hell again.

So I know that some day things will get easier. But right now? They are hard. And as Isora enters this clingy phase and still has no teeth (I am waiting with bated breath for that shoe to drop already) I know it’s going to get harder before it gets easier.

My whole second pregnancy I felt like people were trying to prepare me for the Trouble of Two. That it is just so much harder when there’s two. But it’s not that much harder than one. So you have to pack slightly more in the diaper bag. A bit more food. More clean clothes. More diapers. But not THAT much more. Just more. (BTW my Mom has already said that three is nothing once you get used to two. Is that for real though?)

Since I’ve had the pleasure of having more than a few nights of putting the girls to bed on my own I have to say, once I got the routine down, it wasn’t too bad at all. Maybe a bit stressed, but not horrible.

I think where the Trouble of Two comes in is the personality of the kids. Something you could never never ever prepare for. If Cedella was the easy kid and Isora was the tricky one made things would be easier. I could just pop the tricky kid in the carrier and call it a day. But no, I’m not popping my tricky kid into the carrier and going on about my day. My chiropractor would NOT be pleased with that!

So what’s the solution? Obviously spanking is out. Time outs are pretty much a joke. Taking away toys or sweets or cartoons doesn’t really work. Taking away playdates gets her thinking but still doesn’t curb the bad behavior. What else should I try?

Suggestions and comments are always welcome because I trust all of you and am literally at the end of my rope here…

And just so that you don’t think my kids are always so unreasonable and evil…

Thanks for giving me the opportunity for a good old fashioned rant. I needed that.