I’m finding that motherhood brings out both the best and the worst in me.  There are days when I surprise myself with my selflessness or my gentleness or my super-human strength as I lug a wriggling toddler and two bags of groceries across a parking lot because I forgot to park the car near the shopping cart drop-off (rookie mistake).  There are days when I run wild with Juliette on the playground, following her up the steps and down the slide and back again, and again, and again, playing through the monotony because to her, the up-downs never get old.  Then we head home and I read her the same book eight times over, because that silly bear in I Want My Hat Back is her favorite and storytime is one of the few chances I get to hold my busy girl extra-close.   There are days when she devours her broccoli quiche and her sweet potatoes and her homemade coconut-almond bars, politely signing “more” and “please” after each course, and I pat myself on my back for raising such a healthy, well-mannered little girl.

And then…there are those other kinds of days.  Days when she tosses her steamed vegetables and roasted chicken on the floor, so I throw up my hands and let her have a banana for dinner.  Days when I lay all the blankets and pillows on the living room floor with the pretense of wanting to snuggle, but in reality just praying that if I give her a big enough cup of Cheerios, she’ll leave me alone and let me doze for a precious few minutes.  Days when I altogether lose my shit.  Like the day we went to the zoo and it rained and rained, so I called it quits and we headed to the car where she whined and kicked as I wrestled her into her carseat.  Buckles finally secure, stroller folded into the trunk, my back completely soaked, I handed her a pouch of her favorite pear-pea puree for the ride home, expecting a little gratitude, but instead watching her grabby hands squeeze two-thirds of the green goo down the front of her shirt.  Horns sprouted from my head as I angrily yelled, “BABY, NO!!!  STOP!!!  NO, NO, NO!”.  She was momentarily startled into silence, her lip quivering and her eyes wide with fear.  Then she burst into one of the saddest wails I’ve ever heard.  I think I cried most of the way home, too, embarrassed and ashamed that I had lost my cool and become that crazy, shouting mom I’ve seen (and admittedly judged) so many times before.  And yesterday…ooofff.  Bad weather and a lack of motivation on my part kept us housebound, and after the sixth ransacking of the kitchen cupboards and the third meltdown over not being allowed to play in the fridge, I’d had enough.  “JULIETTE GRACE!  QUIT YOUR CRYING!”  I was done, sick of the messes and the whining and the complete lack of personal space.  I put her down for her afternoon nap at 9 am, partly because she seemed tired, but partly because I just couldn’t stand to be around her anymore.  Which sounds so awful, especially when I had just spent three days at work looking forward to Mama-Jules Thursday.  But did she not read the memo about snuggling together under piles of blankets, contentedly playing Legos while I took a shower?  Or was I suffering from my usual delusions of quiet grandeur and coming up short on patience when reality set in?  Yeah, patience…not my forte.  But apparently kind of essential if I’m going to make it through toddlerhood without turning into the Wicked Witch of the Pacific Northwest.  Craaaaaap.

The upside? At least she doesn’t hold grudges.

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