It was not a good day in parenthood.
Robbie is headed full speed towards the terrible twos, no question. He has been willful, cranky, even mean the last few weeks. Today seemed exceptionally bad.
He woke up crabby. He balked at getting dressed until I finally got frustrated enough to pass him to David, announcing sharply, "Your turn." I flounced off. Five hours of sleep simply wasn't enough to wrestle alligators first thing in the morning.
He had a 10:15 appointment to get his Synagis shots this morning. Normally they're given at a clinic close to home but that was last week when he had 102 fever. This make up clinic was on the other side of the city. He grumped and whined most of the way there. The appointment went about as well as expected. Two shots- one in each leg- and he was hysterical. This I can handle. We do this every month, all winter long. Some hugs, a pacifier, wipe his tears, sing him a song, all better.
Then we headed to bunch with a friend and her son. I was really looking forward to it, partly because I took a diet break and was salivating at the notion of some carbs, partly because I really like this friend and looked forward to her company, and partly because we really aren't venturing out into public a lot this winter and I've been a little cabin-feverish.
But the restaurant was a complete nightmare. There was a short wait for a table during which time we waited outside. Robbie thought running into the traffic lane was a great idea. When I tried to redirect him to something slightly less lethal, he had a temper tantrum. I shot the other waiting patrons an apologetic look and was met with disapproving glares. No sympathy here.
We were seated shortly thereafter and enjoyed approximately 2 minutes of quiet. Then started the whining. Not just whining, but really, shrieking. That's his latest trick, you see- the shrieking. When anything doesn't go quite his way, whether he's been told no or just can't reach something he wants, he shrieks. It's painful. In brighter news, he may have a future as a glass etcher.
At one point, my friend's little boy (who is just a few weeks younger than Robbie) had the audacity to take one of his crayons. It was ugly. Robbie balled his fists tightly, clenched his face into a scowl and trembled with anger. And of course, more shrieking. Busboys came by and tried to make him smile. He was unimpressed. Waitresses expressed sympathy at the sad little boy. I did my best to soothe him, alternating him between my lap and his chair a number of times, each eliciting only brief minutes of peace. I considered abandoning my meal uneaten, my companion unattended, and just giving up. I glanced around seeking something, someone, someplace that would soothe him, but there was nothing.
My friend's son seemed confused. Why was this boy so upset? At one point he decided to try out a few shrieks himself. I apologized to my friend. Robbie had infected him. I idly wondered if I had enough money in my account to pay for the meals of every one around us. I was suddenly grateful my friend had chosen the noisier, busier restaurant over the quiet bakery I had considered.
As the meal continued he did finally settle down a little bit, becoming more sad and tired than enraged. I abandoned the plan I'd had to have his hair cut today and prayed he'd sleep on the way home. My prayers were answered.
At home, he napped only a brief time longer. Though I was chagrined that he'd slept less than an hour, he woke in a decent enough mood. The respite was brief. Soon the willful monster reared his head and we endured more shrieking, more shoving, more defiance. At least this time it only pierced our eardrums and not the ears of unsuspecting restaurant patrons.
There were better moments, of course. Between the shrieks, there were smiles, giggles, hugs. But it was still one of those nights where I was counting the minutes until bedtime.
David had a work event, so I was on my own. I used that as an excuse to start bedtime a little early. It'll take longer to do it by myself. I should allow myself an extra half hour. In the end, Robbie went down about 15 minutes earlier than usual. I think he was asleep before I left the room.
I collapsed in a heap of exhaustion and listened to his music playing through the monitor. A few minutes later I needed to return something to his room. I paused at his crib, smiling at the sight of him.
He was sound asleep, his breathing heavy and peaceful. He was in the same position I'd left him when I kissed him goodnight, but now his pacifier was hanging half out of his mouth. The eyes which had only hours before been filled with mischief and fury were now soft and peaceful; his hands which had shoved me aside when I dared get in his way now lay softly as his side. The unruly hair I'd wanted to cut today lay across his forehead and brushed his eyelashes.
I stroked his head, brushing his hair back, still amazed how soft both his skin and his hair is. He stirred a little. His squeak wasn't so much happy as it was content. He nestled into his pillow a little tighter. His breathing deepened again.
I stood and watched him a long moment. I shook my head in wonderment. This child of such beauty and life, could he truly be mine? Could something so perfect be part of me?
I thought of my life even 2 years ago, wondering if I'd ever even have need of a crib; if I'd ever see a child fill it. Here I am, doing just that. Watching this crazy, wild, willful, strong, beautiful child sleeping off a day of wonderment, new experiences, learning, trying and failing, trying and winning, of love.
I know how he feels. I am exhausted from the experiences, the wonderment, the winning and failing....the love. It is good. I am fulfilled.