No, it had nothing (or only a little) to do with the outcome of the elections in the US. The tears were neither of joy nor sorrow. Per se. The tears were of anger, frustration, helplessness, fear, uncertainty, and solidarity.
This is a long post.
It’s been two days and for the last two days, I have been an emotional wreck. My toddler has been trying my very weak strain of patience more and more every day with everything he does and does not do and I have turned into the evil, angry, frustrated, helpless, terrifying yeller that my kids do not deserve but for which I completely qualify.
Yesterday’s dispute had to do with complete and utter disobedience over not wanting to clean up a mess he had made. Usually after some coaxing or at least after some counting down of numbers, he reluctantly does as is told in s…l…o…w motion that take every ounce of my being not to overlook or demand a “hurry up”. Nothing worked this time. Absolutely nothing. No gentle and calm telling to clean up his mess. No raised voices. No threats. No countdowns. No yelling. Nothing. He did not move. Just decided not to and call my bluff, I guess. I wonder what was going on his mind.
Today was worse. The frustration began early morning when the small container of play dough was not enough to cover the entirety of the toy Flo (from Cars) whom he had successfully covered a few days ago with homemade play dough. Use, Guido instead, I suggested and to his credit he did, except Guido only just barely fit inside the small batch of play dough and that got him into a major tizzy.
Honestly, I just wanted him to do something independently that would give me some moments of undisturbed viewing of Hillary’s concession speech. I was in tears and I just wanted to be alone in my moments of sadness. I did not know that the outcome of the election would have such an effect on me.
You see, I am not a US citizen. I have lived in this country legally, for over 16 years and through two two-term presidents, one Republican and one Democrat. I have had many a grievenaces with the whole immigration system and how it is skewed toward citizens of certain favorable countries, something not extended toward me or my countrywomen and men.
Still, the extent to which I was saddened by the outcome came as a shock to me.
After the speech ended, Aaron left for work and I was left to be with the kids as is usually the case.
To keep TJ calm, I had promised him homemade play dough after I put Baby E to bed.
A kid who usually plays by himself or is generally (not always though) quiet was making all kinds of noises outside the door today such that even after I placed Baby E in her crib after feeding her, she did not want to nap. At all. I left her in her crib and ignored her.
I turned on some music just so I didn’t have to hear her sniffles and got busy making play dough with TJ during which he tried to put his trucks into the dough I was mixing. After I had made the play dough in two colors, instead of playing with it, he spread it all over the kitchen floor, drove his truck over it, then took some and flung it into the living room, then came back and stepped into the leftover dough in the kitchen with his socks and then ran around the carpeted living room with socks that had play dough stuck on it, knocking the plastic guard gate on the floor on purpose as he ran.
Meanwhile, Baby E was not willing to nap and I needed some fresh air. I could have taken the kids to the library’s story time but I didn’t think I had it in me to put on pretenses of normality with my mom friends there so instead, I decided to take the kids for a walk in their monstrous double stroller.
Before leaving, more drama ensued. He stepped on Baby E’s fingers and made her cry. I yelled at him to stop doing it and asked him why he always did that. No answer. Water bottles, a guard gate, and a banana were thrown around in anger and frustration. By me. This scared the kids but at least compliance followed. He walked himself down the stairs as I joined him holding Baby E, and opened the double stroller.
The stroller wouldn’t cooperate in helping strap the baby. I couldn’t get the back to sit up and once I did, I couldn’t get it to recline. The diaper bag refused to fit into the stroller’s basket at first and I had to struggle to shove it in. I had to go to the garage and get my baby carrier and a few other things. All of this just had me immensely exhausted, frustrated, and left me very, very helpless at everything that was going on.
I let out a loud scream. The loudest I had ever screamed. A loud, gut wrenching scream that came from the inner core of my being. I screamed like I had never screamed or ever needed to in my life. Tears flowed easily. They had been flowing easily all morning anyway.
Both kids were strapped in their seats in the stroller, ready to go. I just sat on a stair with the palms of both my hands covering my eyes. Crying. Sobbing, uncontrollably. I tried to tell myself to get my $### together but it didn’t work. My screaming (to be clear, I wasn’t screaming at the kids. I simply screamed because I truly felt like I needed a good scream just then) had scared them both and they both started crying too.
Amidst his own sobs, TJ quietly said, “Mommy, st..o..o..p”. If he was next to me, he would have wiped my tears like he did this morning when I was watching the concession speech.
When I continued just sitting there, sobbing, realizing I was not going to stop but perhaps I would be encouraged with a call to action, he said, “Mommy…put shoes on”.
Eventually, I did stop crying. I did get up and put shoes on. I also put a large hat and dark sunglasses on.
We walked to a Starbucks. I needed that. Not Starbucks, but the walk. I did not want to talk to anybody. I did not want to engage with the kids. I just wanted to be. I just wanted quiet. I did not even want to hear myself think. I wished for a no-thought, no-speech quiet.
I did hear things like, “Mommy..me see blue garbage truck” and “Mommy..me see white garbage truck”…I chose to ignore them.
Starbucks was actually quite calming. I fed Baby E a little banana while TJ and I split a cake pop while he looked at some constructions vehicles nearby.
On our way back, I even stopped by a grocery store and the only eventful thing was when TJ asked to get out of the stroller and then wandered to where all the loose food items are to be bought by the pound (like in the picture above). I usually allow him the treat of a chocolate-covered almond. This time, unprovoked or encouraged by me, he made his way to the string of containers and like a pro, grabbed one and ate it as I forced him back into the stroller.
At lunch, he refused to eat and turned his face away when I tried to feed him. He literally started crying over spilled milk on the table and pushed my empty plate of food on the floor spilling some soy sauce on the carpet. This was the last straw. I cried again in hopelessness as I sat on the carpet trying to scrub the stains off. He was beginning to become more than a handful.
Despite my best intentions and trying to put my own disciplining strategies to use, I was failing miserably at them. Tired, I called Aaron and asked him to come home. I just couldn’t take it anymore. Meanwhile, TJ had started crying again. Talk about a bad day for me. He wasn’t having a party either.
I just couldn’t bear to talk to him just then. I picked Baby E up and took her upstairs for her nap while he sat there crying.
Eventually, Aaron came home. Things calmed down a little. He came to me for a hug and some snuggles and I gave him heart fulls of them acknowledging what a rough day we had both had.
Right before nap time, at one point when he was crying over something and Aaron asked, “Baba, why are you so upset still?”, without skipping a beat, he matter-of-factly said, “Rough day”. Despite myself, I couldn’t stop laughing as Aaron joined in and I am sure TJ wondered why we thought his rough day was a matter of joke for his parents. [Imagine in your head a 2-year-old telling you that he was crying because he had had a rough day. He was right. He was perfectly in context. It was too awesome not to laugh or at least smile over.]
Over the evening, TJ cried more over random things.
I usually try to reflect on my experiences of the day and try to gain some perspective on them. There surely are more lessons to be learned here but I am just not motivated enough to do so right now. With Baby E still waking up at least once a night and sometimes twice, my sleep cycle is always unpredictable. I always lucid dream which makes me tired in the morning. Last night, I couldn’t sleep thinking and worrying over the outcome of the elections. As an immigrant, some of the colorful (no pun intended) rhetoric that made for much political drama effects me directly.
I was to attend a potty training workshop at TJ’s school this evening but asked Aaron to go instead. Thank Goodness he did! I needed that. Had I gone and Aaron had put the kids to sleep, I would have still been carrying the anger and frustrations of the day and come back home in the same cloudy funk I was in all morning and afternoon.
Being able to stay home with the kids in the evening, where thankfully everything went right – I was even able to put Baby E to bed with TJ quietly hanging out by himself downstairs in the living room, I was actually able to savor that time. I got to read to the kids, play a little with them, and was even able to cut TJ’s nails without needing to bribe or threaten him. His own bed time was peaceful.
Some quiet night time reading, acknowledging and apologizing to him for my behavior today along with promising him my continued commitment to being a better mommy for him and his sister, and lots of snuggling, kissing, singing, and some I-love-Yous, were the perfect way to end the day.
Tomorrow…well, we just have to wait and see.