Do you remember that Mormon commercial that they used to have on TV where the kid kept asking his Dad to read a book with him or play ball with him, and his dad would always say he was too busy working. And then right before the Dad went to bed, he realized he never played with his son. So he puts his work away and goes and reads goodnight stories to his son and then they say "Family. It's About Time."
Maybe that wasn't exactly how the commercial went, but it was something like that.
Well, they did a great job with getting the point across in that ad, because the tagline has stuck in my mind for YEARS. "Family. It's About Time."
Today I experienced that entire commercial, first hand.
We've really been struggling with Preston lately. We think it's the "Terrible Two's", but you never know. It could be a combination of that and the fact that we recently moved and so he's had a lot of change to get used to, or the fact that he's just growing up and getting new emotions and hormones flowing through his body.
Whatever it is, he hasn't exactly been an angel. And Preston, up until recently, really has always been an angel. Seriously. If you know our Preston, than you know that he's a good boy. He's always been obedient, happy, and has always played nice.
But recently, he's been extremely disobedient (we're talking flat out says "no" to your face and does whatever the heck he wants, despite what you've asked him to do or not to do). He yells a lot, and for things that he really doesn't need to be yelling for (like getting him a sippy cup of water when he wanted milk, and he so has a freak out). And he's totally been beating up on his poor little baby brother, even though we've asked him to be gentle and nice.
We keep thinking it's just got to be a phase and in a day or two he'll be over it. But...it's been a good couple of weeks and he's still a terrible two.
It's exhausting! I normally don't like it when others give me unsolicited parenting advice, but lately, I've been asking anyone and everyone what do we do about Preston? What can we be doing better? Is this typical? How do we deal with certain situations? I even asked my Mom how do I handle Preston when he yells and disobeys (She has a lot of experience with this type of toddler since she claims my older brother was way, way, way worse than Preston...haha...sorry Mike!).
Tomorrow both Will and I have to speak in Church, and being that it is Saturday, we really needed to work on our talks. All other attempts to work on them during the week sort of failed - mostly to do with just being exhausted from parenting and not having time (quiet time) to really study. So we agreed that today we would trade off. Will would watch both boys while I got to lock myself in my music studio to work on my talk for a few hours, and then we would switch.
The day just didn't go very well.
Preston was up and out of his bed playing with his toys in the hallway at 2:30 a.m., 5:30 a.m., and then was completely up-and-at-em for the day at 6:45 a.m. Taylor also woke up about 5 minutes later. So guess who was up at 6:45? Yup. This also meant that Preston was getting testy earlier on in the morning since he didn't sleep enough. So a lot of whining, yelling, crying, pouting, and so forth went on...
As the morning proceeded, by 9:30 a.m., I was ready to tell Will that I just needed some personal time and was ready to jump in the car and go for a drive. Had it not been for the 6 inches of fresh snow outside, and that I didn't want to leave Will alone with both kids I would have totally done it.
My next best option - grandparents.
I called my parents to find out if they were planning on driving back home from Oregon today or not. I was hoping that if they were going to be home, they could take the boys for a few hours so that Will and I could both work on our talks. However, the answer was negative and we were out of luck because G&G weren't going to be home until tomorrow.
I was able to get some time to work on my talk, but not without Preston hanging out in the office with me, using my studio headphones jack extender as a pretend paintbrush on the wall, and also punching zillions of holes into all of my printer paper with a pencil.
I could feel the stress inside me burn. It had been a week of dealing with a terrible-two's toddler and I just needed a break. I kept giving Will looks, like "I'm going to go crazy if Preston yells at me one more time for not getting his way."
By late afternoon, I decided to finally learn how to use my new sewing machine and sew Preston's Lightening McQueen pillows and blanket that I'd promised him over a month ago. It took me about 30 minutes of reading through the user manual to figure out how to put thread on the bobbin, and set up the needle and spool. All during which, Preston stood right next to me and asked over, and over, and over "Make Mcqueen pillow? Make McQueen pillow?". (which, by the way, makes it very hard to read instructions during that). When I tried to explain to him that it was going to take mommy a LONG time to make his pillow, he would throw a fit and whine for his pillow NOW.
I also kept getting so annoyed that all Preston wanted to do was lay on the material while I was trying to cut it. He would mess up the alignment while I was trying to pin, and not to mention he would get dangerously close to my super duper sharp sewing scissors and I swear I almost stabbed him twice because he flung a body part too close to them.
My sewing project, which I was doing for him because I wanted to be a good mom and be nice, only set me on edge and stressed me out.
It was after I finished his pillows and blanket, that I remembered the catch phrase "Family. It's About Time.". It went through my head like a reprimand for the way I had been acting all day long towards my toddler.
As I reviewed the day's events...I realized that none of this was really Preston's fault. In each situation, it was clear that Preston only wanted to be with me, to do something with me, to be involved, and to be loved, to be paid attention to.
Boy did I feel like mother of the year.
It was at that moment that I decided to change my tactics.
"Preston, you want to come downstairs and help mommy make some cookies?" I asked.
"Okay!" he answered.
We went downstairs and into the kitchen. I put Preston up onto a tall stool so that he could help me. He got to be the keeper of the chocolate chips until we were ready for them - which he was very excited about. I explained to him everything we were doing, including every ingredient we would put in. He helped pour in the salt, sugar, and the flour. And the chocolate chips of course. If he whined about something, instead of getting upset at him, I would try to put myself in his shoes and be more understanding and reply in a loving tone. I gave him lots of praise for everything he was doing to be such a good helper.
Grandma Lindsay, if you are reading this, by the way, when I asked him if he wanted to help me make cookies, for some reason the first thing he said was "Grandma Lindsay make cookies!". And for the next few minutes kept telling me that you were coming to our house to make cookies. :)
After the cookie dough was all mixed up, I gave him his own special cup filled with a few spoonfuls of cookie dough. He kept exclaiming "Mmmm yum! Chocolate!". When he was halfway through his stipen of dough, he wanted to put the rest back into the bowl and mix it. Ah, what the heck I thought. Nobody but us is going to eat this - haha.
We put some dough on a cookie sheet and cooked them, and then put the rest of the dough in a freezer container - but not before we snitched some more.
Preston had dropped several chocolate chips on the floor, and because we are trying to teach him to pick up after himself, I asked him "Can you go and pick those up please?".
He looked down at the floor, thought for a second, and then said, "No, they too far away." Instead of getting upset that he wasn't minding me, again, I put myself in his shoes and realized "Yeah, he is on a super tall barstool. Those chocolate chips really ARE far away for him!" and then I bent down and picked them all up myself.
We washed the cookie dough off of our hands, and then I asked him if he was hungry. Lately, he's been very picky and emotional about meals and if we ask him if he's hungry he'll yell "NOO! I don't want to eat!". So I asked him if he wanted some scrambled eggs. Surprisingly, he said "My want scrambled eggs!" in a pleasant tone.
So I made the both of us some scrambled eggs, and we sat down and watched the last 20 minutes of this week's episode of The Biggest Loser together. During the entire time, I would give him smiles and funny looks, and tell him what was going on. "That person lost 10 pounds! Can you count to 10?" and he would say "10 pounds!".
Once he was finished with his eggs, I cleaned him up and put him in his pajamas. He willingly let me (which lately he has thrown fits when it's time to put PJ's on). I asked him if he wanted to sit on my lap and finish watching mommy's show. He said "Okay" and hopped up on my lap. I gave him lots of hugs and snuggles and rocked him back and forth.
Within 10 minutes, he was asleep in my arms. I looked down at him and with my fingertips, traced the features of his face. There were those eyebrows, long eyelashes, and soft skin that I used to touch and admire when he was a baby. Yep it was him - still the same boy, but just grown up a bit. Same little baby nose, just bigger...and more toddler like. I ran my fingers through his hair and swept it to the side and gave him several cheek kisses.
The show had been over for at least 5 minutes, but I wanted to sit there longer and just hold him. Eventually I carried him upstairs and laid him down in his bed with his new McQueen pillow and blanket. He didn't even wake up at all. I tucked him in and closed his bedroom door.
I felt fulfilled, and happy. And most of all, I felt so much love towards Preston.
Even though many times before I have known Preston just needed some personal time, I would do it dutifully and I think he knew it. But tonight, he did feel loved and like he was getting very special time with his mommy.
Family. It's about time. Isn't that the truth?
I'm not saying that our problems are all solved now and things will be perfect from now on. But I can say that I have been humbled, and now know that I need to be better, like I was this evening, more often.
I'm so grateful for this lesson in love.