Is It Worth It?

So I've been MIA lately because our household is under the spell of disease. My daughter somehow contracted Hand Foot Mouth Disease and she has been utterly miserable and I have been miserable with her. I've seen my fair share of illnesses. I have a 3 year old boy that goes to preschool. I thought I saw it all, high fevers, viruses, bronchitis, colds, flu etc. but nothing prepared me for Coxsackie ( a form of HFM). My poor daughter's mouth has broken out into canker sores. Her gums are completely inflamed and bleeding, so she can hardly eat or drink anything. This past week she has been subsisting on ice cream. So choosing between diabetes and rotten teeth or starvation and dehydration I chose the lesser evil. My normally fun loving, light hearted daughter, that eats anything and sleeps well, has been replaced with a cantankerous, grouchy, girl who throws and screams at any food I try to give her.  She is usually pretty independent and plays well by herself but now she demands to be held 24/7. So its been a tough week.

 

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I almost feel like I'm going through postpartum where I am teetering between two realities, one where I tell myself that its all a phase, its a part of life and to take it in stride, and the other, where I let the sleeplessness, anxiety and stress get the best of me. Sometimes I wonder in these one- crying- toddler- meltdown- away- from- collapsing "is it worth it?" I get into these moments where I think fondly of my pre-children days. Those days where I felt like a woman and not like a human wet-rag.

I reminisce and I remember when all I had to do was take care of myself, where I had the time and the means to look and dress well, when there were actually times when I liked what I saw in the mirror. That's another thing, the mirror used to be my friend. It made sure I didn't have food in my teeth, told me to add some more powder to my nose,  occasionally told me how nice I looked in my new dress. Now the mirror glowers at me, showing me how dark the bags are under my eyes, how far my gut is sticks out pass my chest, how uneven my skin tone is becoming. It's as if in giving birth and breathing new life into my babies, youth and beauty left in the same breath.

I reminisce and remember going out and having fun with others, something called a "social life" which has become such a foreign concept it might as well be the moon for now. I've barely left the house the past couple weeks. I think how hard it is raising kids without family to help. It's something I don't notice until illness plagues my household. I see other people with kids, able to go out and have fun, because their parents can watch their kids for a night. I never seemed to get a break and I feel like I'm drowning to get air.

So this is how I have been feeling. I feel ashamed to even be asking myself this. How could I not love and appreciate the amazing gift of motherhood every moment of every day? If I were to go back in time would I do things differently? Would I trade it all for independence, freedom, youth, fun.... Is it worth it?

As these thoughts started filling my heart and mind, last night I took a walk outside. I've been confined indoors in fear that I am somehow carrying the virus my daughter has.  The sky was so bright and the full moon shined like an elegant light fixture in the sky.  The clouds seemed to radiate the light of the moon and as I gazed above, looking at how bright it all was, I realized you never appreciate how beautiful and bright a moon could be unless you accustomed to seeing darkness. It reminded me of the little moments as a mother that make me forget the hardship: lost beauty, lost youth, a social life forever gone, sleeplessness, etc... moments when my daughter hugs me and leans her head on my shoulders, where I know I am her only comfort but at the same time she is holding me up as much as I am holding her. Or like last night when she sensed my stress and tried giving my kisses on the cheek despite the fact it hurts to move her mouth. In every hardship as a mother like labor, post partum, the pain of nursing, the terrible twos and even more terrible threes, and sickness, when you feel the darkness about to envelope you, those moments, like the radiant shine of a full moon, get you through. Would we ever be able to survive motherhood without them? Moments that help you remember the joy of it all, moments that make it all worth it.

Good Changes.

I know I complain a lot about my sons antics on this blog. Really, Deachoong Mama has provided me with a cathartic outlet for all my mommy woes in raising my hyperactive, strong willed 3 year old. This past month strangely his behavior has improved a bit. I think I'm slowly seeing a bit of the light at the end of the tunnel that I dream about. The gradual understanding of boundaries, and somewhat comprehending our directions and wants from us as parents has made a glimmer of an appearance in my son's behavior. Not only that, his ability to communicate his thoughts and desires has improved a lot as well.

Here are some examples.

Eating his food

Every morning Joe and I go through a showdown with our son at breakfast. He only wants to eat the bacon and fruits and not his eggs. I've coined it the EGG SHOWDOWN. Around 7:30 when we all sit down for breakfast he starts hoarding all the strawberries and or oranges etc and we tell him "Joey you need to eat your egg first." Its come to the point where I feel a tinge of anxiety every time I scoop the eggs onto his plate. He says "NO." We amicably ask again and again. We take the fruit away and he gets very angry.  We ask firmer and gradually it escalates into a screaming match, where we whip out the wooden ladle if we need to. I can't tell you how SICK I am of the egg showdown. To make it worse, when he doesn't eat the egg he starts complaining an hour later that hes starving and he has a meltdown around 10am. ARGH.

Last week one day we all sat down to eat breakfast and again he goes eating just fruit. I clench my teeth and I say "Joey let me make this simple. You can choose the easy way or the hard way. The easy way is you eat your eggs, then you can have you fruit and bacon. The hard way is mommy and daddy get very angry and you get a meme (spanking). Which do you want? The hard way or easy way?"

"easy way" and he gobbled up his eggs.

........

"What just happened" I think to myself. That's not the first time I've said those words and they never held any power to sway his actions. Starting this past week its been working! Not just at the Egg Showdown but in other instances as well.

Cleaning

Cleaning his play room is another source of contention with our son. He is horrible at cleaning up his mess. He will take forever getting sidetracked with every toy he should be putting back. The other day I asked him once and he cleaned it up. Completely on his own. No chiding, no threats, no ultimatums. I looked back at the room and it was all clean. He even put away the chairs!

.....

"What just happened?"

Feeling sorry for his actions

A couple weeks ago we had a rough morning because I wouldn't give him a cookie or something in the morning. The usual morning energy and hyperactivity at our house. He yelled and got mad then 20 mins later he was fine. He went to preschool and came home and just before dinner he hugged me and looked me in the eyes and said, "Mommy I'm so sorry." I was alarmed beause I didn't remember what he did. "Why are you sorry Joey?"

He said, "I yelled at you. I want to listen. I wanted my cookie and I yelled. That wasn't nice."

This simple contrite confession astounded me. It was as if he was thinking and processing how he behaved all day and finally wanted to tell me what he thought.

He's done this several times throughout these past two weeks. It surprises me because I used to wonder if he ever felt badly for how he behaved. Often he would say sorry seemingly because he didn't want to see joe and I angry, or he didn't want to get punished. Saying sorry was just his way of quickly appeasing the situation, but he never before showed he understood the connections between his behavior, why we were upset, and why he should be sorry, until the past couple weeks.

Changes In Me

On top of these new found changes there are things he does on a day to day basis that sends me on cloud 9. Since he turned 2 and started to become more and more verbal he would say the darnest things and would always make me laugh on my worst days. The flip side to that was the

demanding tantrums

, the

incessant whining

, and the

infuriating disobedience

. I've dedicated many a blog post on all of the above. However these changes remind me of a time I went to the beach with

my parents

when they came to visit last August.  It had been raining for days and finally the clouds were starting to part. We got to the beach and you could see the clouds slowly drawback and you see beautiful rays of sunshine pierce through the clouds bringing amazing views to the mountains and the land. I took this picture as the moment was unfolding:

It's like the rain clouds are starting to draw back showing new rays of light on the things that I love about this age.

Jewelry

I love how he always randomly comes up to me and says,"Mommy I have a gift for you." He'll have a bundled hand towel in his hand. I muster up an excited "What is it Joey?" I'll open the towel to see that it's empty.  Then he'll say with excitement "Its a necklace!! See?" then he'll continue to open the towel to adorn me with invisible jewelry and shoes. The interaction always makes my heart want to burst. In the end he'll say "Mommy you are pretty and I am handsome!"

Words

I love how he is able to express his affections in words. Not a day goes by where he won't hug me for no particular reason and earnestly whisper "I love you."

Sometimes the first thing he does when he wakes is point to me and say "You are the queen."  Now in my milk stained shirt and disheveled hair, I know I am a far cry from royalty but I might as well be when he says those words.

 Fun

I love how when I get caught up working on my laptop and getting lost in the day to day to do lists,  he'll cup my face, and with a surreptitious smile say "You can't catch me!" We'll chase each other around the futon 10 times over. To throw me off he'll hurl a bunch of throw pillows in my way, to which I jump a good foot up in the air to hurdle over them, while making a "WHOOOAHHHHH WHOOO" noise. This causes him to burst into an uncontrollable giggle at the ridiculous sight of his mother hurdling over pillows as if she was an Olympic contender. Finally I'll grab him and smother him in kisses and he laughs so hard he loses his breath.

Those moments I just want to freeze for all time. I know that they are fleeting and there will come a time where he won't be jealous of my laptop and vying for my attention. When he won't call to me to engage in a imaginary world where throw pillows might as well be boulders and towels reveal endless jewels. There may come a time when I would long to hear him say "I love you" with the sincerity and candidness as he does now. Even in heaven, as wonderful and amazing as it would be, these moments will never return. Through the stress, the to do lists, the terrible 3 moments, I need to see the sunlight through the clouds daily and enjoy this time because one day the view might be gone.