Unfortunately, Elan's behavior is pretty gloomy too. Sometimes travel does wonders for him, helps break him out of fussy patterns. Generally speaking, he's quite delightful while traveling. But this trip has so far not accomplished that. In fact, I would say that he's been even more difficult while traveling than he was at home. There are two possible responses I could have to this development: 1) cry and rage with frustration; 2) laugh hysterically.
Ha! Ha! Ha!
Did that seem forced?
Also, now that the newness factor has worn off being around his cousin Judah, Elan's obviously becoming jealous, and I see a certain glint in his eye that means he is considering the boundaries of acceptable behavior toward a baby. What about a hug that morphs into full-body contact? Will they notice the aggression if it's couched in affectionate terms? This behavior of course makes me feel very encouraged given the baby who will be joining our household come fall.
All of these rather gloomy developments have convinced me once and for all that we just need to spend the money and meet with a parenting coach to help us. I've chosen Meg Zweibeck, because she's been doing this for a long time, she has an excellent reputation, and both Mikhail and I have been to her talks and liked her playful-but-firm approach. We could probably find a cheaper alternative, like going to speak with an intern at the Ann Martin Children's Center. But I'm past the point of fooling around. I need to talk to someone who knows what they're doing and come up with a plan. NOW. Actually, yesterday.
I often wish I could be one of those graceful moms who make parenting look easy. Even when their children are misbehaving, these moms handle it without ever seeming to break a sweat. One of my best friends is this kind of mom, and though she does sometimes admit to being overwhelmed dealing with her four (4!!) children, from the outside she is the picture of parenting confidence and calm.
I'm working on accepting that I'm really not that kind of mom. For better or worse, I'm much more likely to highlight the drama and downplay to myself and others the times I feel I'm getting it right. Part of it is definitely that I have a challenging child ("spirited!" - I'm reading this book). But it's also that I value the honesty of showing the not-graceful times in parenting. Writing about my miscarriage, I realized I am interested in exploring when life is not pretty, when it turns you on your head, and how to deal with that. We'll all have those times, whether it's because your 3-year-old is throwing a fit in a cafe at 8 AM on a rainy morning, or some other challenge. I'm willing to explore my own vulnerabilities as a person, and as a mother. And though it might not be very graceful, I have to believe this quality is its own kind of strength.
Back in March, one of my friends posted this question on Facebook: Moms, how often do you feel like you are failing as a parent? I've thought a lot about her question since then, and I admire her for asking it. I'm not sure this would have been my answer back in March, when all I could think about was not puking, but it is my answer right now: every single damn day.
And so my challenge right now is managing to locate my sense of humor, find my inner grounding, and navigate my way to a sense of perspective. Every single damn day.