Daisypath Happy Birthday tickers

This blog captures my thoughts and observations of Amelia since there are so many wonderful things I want to just bottle and enjoy. Time doesn't stop and while I will have memories, it will be nice for both her and me to have these in-the-moment snapshots of her life.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

I have become my mother circa 1978

Daddy has been out of town since Thursday evening and being a single mother is not what I am cut out to be. I've had Amelia all to myself, no breaks, since 5 pm Friday. By this afternoon, I was getting a little testy.

Amelia is an only child by design. I didn't want her to have to share the love and attention of her parents with siblings. I have always been very purposeful in paying attention to her. While she can be very, very good at entertaining herself, she is also very good at wanting to involve us in her games and imaginary play. I am not very good at setting boundaries with her and I think I am going to have to start consciously making some to save my sanity and her childhood.

Every few minutes this weekend it was Mommy-this and Mommy-that. Maybe it was because her daddy was gone and she was slightly unsettled ... I am just now realizing that. But in the meantime I had a very vocal shadow all weekend. For example, I would go down to the basement to get some laundry and within 30 seconds I would hear footsteps and an urgent, "Mommy, are you down there?" And I'll spare you the battle of the wills that was her bath this morning. She wouldn't wash herself but didn't want me washing her either.

Playing with Amelia can be fun but she is a micromanager. This drives her daddy a little crazier than it drives me, but it does bother me sometimes when she tells me exactly where to sit, exactly what to say, exactly how to say it. I try to give her a lot of leeway in how she conducts herself, so I don't think she is mimicking me. I think she is just a lot like me - a control freak - which leads to the frustrations I have.

I have long known in my head that Amelia is not a mini-me. The world is better off for it, I am sure. So she doesn't behave or react to things the way I anticipate. She doesn't like many of the same things I like, or at least not with the same fervor. Examples include ice cream and pizza, or even eating for that matter; she greatly prefers stuffed animals to real ones so zoos are a complete waste of time, as is pointing out animals along the side of the road like the llamas the other day. She totally had her nose in a book and couldn't be bothered to look up. However, she adores reading so we do have that in common.

Amelia is a very bright, beautiful, healthy, energetic and joyful child. I refuse to sit her in front of the TV unless she specifically asks, and I let her play computer games upon her request. She does play lots of (childrens) music CDs and sings along while making up games, dances or audiences with her stuffed animals. One of the consequences of shunning TV is being more available to her and as the weekend wore on I became a little worn out, which brings us to the grocery store this afternoon.

Before leaving the house, she wrote out our complete list. When we got to the store she wanted to get the items in the order they were listed but I explained to her that we didn't write them down in the way the store is laid out, we wrote them down in the order we thought of them and we were not going to criss-cross the store. She accepted that fact reluctantly. I consoled her by letting her cross things off the list as she put them in the cart. We got to the cat food aisle and she picked out the treats and the food. Then I mentioned that we also needed some (dry) Fancy Feast but that I may get a bigger bag than usual since the cats were really eating a lot of it lately. She announced that I should get the green bag (it's on the top shelf and she can't reach it) but I was looking for the 3 lb. bag which only came in purple and was also considering the Cat Chow Indoor Formula as an alternative. Seeing that I was not retrieving the bag she picked, she loudly complained, "You're not doing the right thing! You never do anything right!" This put me over the top. I can't remember how I started my reply, something along the lines of, "You're right I don't do anything right but I am doing the best I can. I am ready to give up," followed by "Would you like to go find another mother?" While my mind flashed back to 1978 Amelia gave me a look that I couldn't read and I interpreted as incomprehension so I said either, "Would you like a different mommy?" or "Would you like someone else to be your mommy?" (I just remember trying to phrase it in a way that she understood what I meant.) She then looked completely stricken and quietly said, "No." So I said, "Then help me pick out some cat food," and I pulled two off the shelf and she picked the green one, even though it wasn't Fancy Feast. At least the girl is consistent.

I still don't think I am cut out for all the guidance a soon-to-be 5 year-old needs. It takes a lot of extra mental energy for me to consistently make her use words (instead of whining or using hand gestures), not letting her shout or talk over people, getting her to eat neatly, and so on and so forth, on top of all the regular obligations of getting her and me dressed, feeding all three of us, remembering all the appointments and commitments, practicing piano, getting her to and from school, packing lunches, water bottles and anything extra, etc. etc. etc. I keep thinking I am doing something wrong, that she should be learning more by imitation or osmosis and not have to have everything explained to her. And why does she seem to get some things right off the bat and others take FOREVER and have to be repeated ad infinitum (like getting her to figure out she needs to go potty without being told).

I know all moms deal with this but I really don't know how.


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