While we were in Maine, I was feeling pretty darn good about my parenting skills. I was cool. I was calm. I was caring but firm. I was mindful. I was Zen Mama and oh boy, did it feel good. Bedtime at 10 pm and Aviva's losing it? I had it all under control. Breakfast of toast, peanut butter, strawberries, rice krispies, silly putty, scones, AND a bite of cheesecake? We're on vacation and the kid should live a little. A trip to a public beach and Vivi wants to be naked? She's got a cute tushie so let's go for it. A long car ride home on Sunday? Let's sing Ring Around the Rosie a million times. It didn't matter because Mama had it TOGETHER!
Then Monday rolled around and Mama lost it- BIG TIME!
It all started when I volunteered to take Aviva on errands in the morning so my husband could get some things done at home. We went to the farm for our vegetables knowing full well that Vivi would be begging to see the goats. I thought I'd just let her see them for a minute (stupid) but as we were walking out to the field, it started to get really hot. Then she wouldn't actually go near the goats but demanded that I feed them some clover. When I tried to get her to leave, she refused. Zen Mama was still present and I offered to let her carry my purse back to the produce stand. After some negotiation, it worked but I was already sweaty and sticky and feeling like my equanimity was fading.
Then at the produce stand she proceeded to take a bite out of a potato, green bean, scallion, and piece of ginger before we left. I held it together and reasoned that at least it was all good food.
Next we hit Target for some soy milk. Vivi refused to stay clipped in the cart. I grabbed the milk and hightailed it out of there but not before she plopped down in front of the exit yelling, "No hold mama's hand." Somewhat calmly I responded, "It's not safe for you. We'll just wait until you're ready to hold mama's hand in the parking lot." So she sat and I waited and waited and waited and got angrier, angrier, and angrier. I was running out of incentives and I really just wanted to get out of there. So I lied. "Vivi, let's get going. Mama thinks there is a special snack in the car for you." It worked until we got to the car and I "couldn't find" the snack. I figured that since Whole Foods was our next stop, I would just open a box of Cheddar Bunnies in the store and she'd recover. My head was starting to pound.
We got to Whole Foods and I found her a snack. She was happy and my composure was returning. Then she turned her snack upside and dumped it ALL OVER the floor with a look that said, "I know you lied to me. You are a bad mother. What are you going to do about THIS?" I exhaled loudly, ripped the bag from her hands, and began cleaning up the floor the best I could. She screamed at the top of her lungs for what felt like an eternity. I turned red and got out of there as fast I could.
It was at the park later that afternoon when I just couldn't take it anymore. I woke her up from a nap to get there because I was meeting my friends and I REALLY WANTED to go. When we got there, she was crabby and wouldn't share and I abruptly put her in timeout. I was cranky and I was probably mean and I certainly wasn't mindful. I really just wanted to spank her and that scared me. I was feeling embarrassed by her behavior and then by my own. I just couldn't pull it together and was fighting back tears on the drive home. What the hell had happened to Zen Mama?!!
When we got back to the house Vivi started to play quietly. I just sat there and watched her. I felt like such a jerk. Returning from vacation is an adjustment and I didn't cut her any slack. I dragged her around because I needed to get things done. She was cranky at the park because I cut her nap short. I lied to her and then expected her to behave.
When she looked up at me, I said "Hey V. Mama is sorry. I was a little grumpy with you today and I should have been nicer." Her response: "Mama, you not little grumpy. You BIIIIIIGGGGG grumpy." I agreed. Zen Mama was starting to resurface.
Then, while I was making dinner, Vivi used the removable pot from her little toilet to scoop out all the water from the big toilet and dump it on the bathroom floor. She then unrolled all the toilet paper. I should have realized sooner that the house was way too quiet.
Welcome home Zen Mama!