Rye is a good kid, but he gets on my nerves so much more than he should.
The things he’s doing are pretty innocent—like asking “Why?” after every single thing I tell him, including the answer to every question. (Rye: “Why are we going this way?” Me: “Because we’re parked over here.” Rye: “Why?”) Or insisting we have the same conversation over and over, throughout the day, every day. (Rye: “Which of these road signs is your favorite?” Me: “The yield sign, because it means you only have to stop if another car is coming the other way.” Rye: “Why?” Me: “I just told you why.” Rye: “Why can’t the Speed Limit 55 be your favorite?”) He’s also SO SLOW. At everything, whether from disobedience or dilly-dallying. I’d take walks more often, but it takes him 10 minutes to go two blocks, and you guessed it, he asks the same questions while walking these two blocks every time. (“Why is that stop sign twisted? Why are those two houses together? Why is that sidewalk whiter than the other sidewalk?”)
His words are like an ocean, and each repetition is a wave that keeps knocking into me, pulling the sands of patience out below my feet. This instability leads to me snapping at times, and internal cursing (“get your ass out of the car” is a common internal refrain as he gets out of the car seat and just stands on the edge of the inside of the car, staring into space, as I lug Knox’s car seat around, with the diaper bag, and whatever stuff Rye brought home from preschool while Rye seems to be studying the air like a sea captain trying to determine which direction the non-existent wind is coming from). Sometimes I feel justified in my minor outbursts, but then when Josh is home and parenting while I’m doing dishes or some other housework nearby, I see how much better he handles all these three-year-old behaviors. He returns a question with another question. (Josh: “Well why do you think we closed the windows?” Rye: “Because it’s getting cold?” Josh: “Exactly.”) He diffuses Rye’s stubbornness with silliness. And he encourages Rye to move along at a faster pace by challenging him in fun ways.
And I am reminded that I am NOT the fun parent in this family. More often than not, I’m the grouchy, overly-tired, busy mom who is counting down the hours until Rye’s bedtime. I wonder when Rye will grow out of this phase, and I don’t feel bad about wanting him to grow up faster. (When he's four he can slow down again.)
Still, there’s a tinge of guilt about feeling like I’m a mean mom. (Though considering he lives in a house full of toys, with a stay-at-home mom at his beck and call, making awesome meals that he won’t eat and then letting him eat apple and peanut butter instead, with very little chores expected of him and no physical abuse, I know I’m not REALLY a mean mom, just not as fun of a mom as I wish I could be.)
But in one night of exhaustion I had this golden nugget of a thought: “It’s hard to give your best when you’re giving your all.”
On most days, we’re together for all 12 hours of his wake time. Subtract three hours from that on days he has preschool, and an hour for days when I go to the gym. Otherwise, it’s the “Rye and Carrie Show, now featuring Knox.” Josh has been working 12 hour shifts lately, so on the days he works he sees Rye for about half an hour before leaving. On his off days, he always tries to schedule some Rye and Daddy time, but for the most part, I’m still the primary parent. As Rye once asked as I was getting ready to leave the house for a doctor’s appointment, “Is Daddy going to babysit me?”
I am giving Rye (and Knox) my all, and unfortunately for them, that means the good and the bad. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” as the saying goes, but with Rye there is no absence, merely respites. My heart still grows fonder, but the growth rate of my impatience and exhaustion are giving my heart a run for its money.
The questions, the attitude, the rudeness, the potty talk, the screaming temper tantrums — hopefully these are all just a phase that will be gone or at least decreased in the next few months. I can withstand this.
I’m all in.
I have no back-up plan.