You’d think that once you were on your second child you would become, if not exactly a parenting expert (can there really be such a thing? I say no), at least upgraded from your status of rank amateur. If I did anything else day in and day out for years on end I’d probably be pretty awesome at it—I mean, just look how I can breathe and eat and shit without a second thought—but this kid-wrangling business? NEVER STOPS KICKING MY ASS.
This morning has been nothing but an endless stretch of meltdowns from Dylan and I’m so frustrated with him and I’m even more frustrated with myself for BEING so frustrated. I know this is a stage, and it’s not like we didn’t experiece the exact same things with Riley: the suicidal tendencies, the screaming, the frenzied temper tantrums, the arched-back flopping. It seems like I should have learned some goddamned coping skills by now, yet I still find myself at the frayed end of my barely-there rope on an hourly basis, staring at my beloved boy and thinking I. JUST. CAN’T. DEAL. WITH. YOU.
I’m frustrated by the angry food-swatting, kicking me during diaper changes, shrieking because a toy is out of reach, pinching me because I’ve picked him up out of some harmful situation, flinging himself backwards onto his head then howling because duhhhhh it huuuurts. These are things that toddlers do, I know this, and I know it’s just part of the job to get through these unpleasant moments, preferably without merrily tossing your child into the Deadwood pigpen, but man, I just wish I had the sense that I was getting better at this.
I feel like I’ve gained all these little skills of lesser importance, like knowing how to cover my hand over a child’s fingers while pulling on a sleeve so their pinky doesn’t get bent back or clapping loudly when a baby is cough-gagging so they’re startled out of their Barf Process or cookie-cuttering a pancake into a star for a picky eater, but where are my deeper wells of patience? Where is my ability to manage a difficult situation without feeling as though the world is coming apart at the seams? Where is my innate knowledge that while we may be in the suck now, the pendulum always swings the other way?
This job is humbling, in every way possible. I thought it would be easier the second time around, but no. It is often times more fun, less scary, and maybe even more indescribably wonderful, but not easier. Not at all.