A friend on Twitter recently wrote that she understood my recent parental venting because when her child was a toddler she felt like, and I quote the awesomeness, “an abused wife”.
YES. That is EXACTLY how I feel these days. Like I’m in a painful relationship with someone whose unpredictable behavior constantly swerves from one extreme to another; one minute he’s screaming and throwing things, the next he’s curling into my arms and murmuring that he only gets mad because he loves me so much, baby.
At 20 months, he has no in betweens, no neutral setting whatsoever. He’s either a delicious ball of pure joy, a creature that fills my entire soul with bright sunlight—or he’s a complete monster, a tiny Jack Nicholson peering around a doorway and shouting HEEEERE’S JOHNNY!
When it’s bad, it’s horrid. I get fed up beyond all reason with the tantruming and howling and screams of “NO! NOOOOOO!” My head aches and I think over and over how this is like a jail sentence, how if it were just Riley we could be doing so much more right now, going places and having fun, instead of being held captive by a pint-sized dictator who so often seems hell-bent on making our lives as miserable as fucking possible.
Sometimes I wonder if he hates me. I mean, I know better. And yet.
But when it’s good, it’s so very good. My god, he can be so loving and so cuddly, so much more than Riley ever was at the same age. He climbs us like jungle gym equipment, stopping occasionally to touch foreheads and rub noses. He wants to be picked up and then he clings like a koala, chattering happily. He laughs great meaty old-man guffaws at things he finds funny, he chirps “I eee yooooo” when we play peekaboo.
There’s so much to love. There’s so much that makes me want to curl in a ball and cry. I know it is fleeting, that he’ll be a bigger boy soon and these months will be a memory . . . and that I shouldn’t wish them away, because I’ll never get them back.
Still, this entire year has been so hard. It’s just been really, really hard. I love my boy so much, but goddamn it’s been hard.