Saturday, June 8, 2013

Knock it off!

Michelle's favourite pasttime is clearing the shelves. Whether it's books or bears she will pull them off one by one and throw them on the floor. Not to play with them or look at them, just for the sheer joy of making a mess. It started when she was 9 months old. Now she's 10 months old but she doesn't seem to be tiring of it any time soon. If anything she seems to enjoy it all the more as time goes on. She will even stare at me and smile as she throws things on the floor one by one. I say no and she does it anyway. I'm not sure how long this defiant stage will last (maybe the rest of her life?!) I decided it was kind of cute anyway and made a video of her pulling the bears down. Here it is on Youtube:

I tried to explain to her (as I have before) that just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD. After tidying the nursery for the third time I would turn around and the floor would be covered in teddy bears. I tried to make light of it and sing the Teddy Bear Picnic but it was getting old. We had a hot couple of days (I don't have air conditioning) and my patience with everything was wearing thin. "Just leave it until she goes to bed" my Mom told me, explaining that all kids go through the phase where they want to throw everything on the floor. That's the other problem. She doesn't always go to bed. Sometimes she doesn't settle down until 11 pm and by then I'm exhausted and go to sleep myself. Even then she continues to wake up the rest of the night. Then she's cranky and impossible the next day and frankly I'm pretty cranky myself.

Michelle has been more difficult lately than ever and her timing couldn't be worse because I'm already stressed and stretched to my limit. Lately it seems she fights me on everything. Mealtimes are a battle. It's awful because she needs to eat solid food now more than ever since I'm weaning her off breastmilk but sometimes she just won't eat. It's so frustrating. I don't know what to do. I always had toys on the tray of her high chair to entertain her. Now she knocks them all off. She screams that she has nothing to play with so I pick them all up again only to have her knock them off. One. by. one. She likes to play with spoons and bowls so I give her a few of them. It entertains her for about two seconds and then bang, boom, they're on the floor. "If you're going to keep knocking them off I'm not going to pick them back up!" I threaten but then I cave in, like a dope and pick them up yet again. Lately she'll scream and stiffen herself out half the time refusing to eat even the things that used to be her favourites. Some days she'll eat really well and I'll be relieved. Other days she'll barely take two spoonfuls and then shakes her head and cries. "Ma!" she yells when she doesn't want anymore and shakes her head. I heard that you're not supposed to force a child to eat but what do you do if they just won't eat?

She also fights sleep. Even when she's so tired she's rubbing her eyes sometimes she still won't go for a nap or go to sleep at night. Then she's crankier than ever and complains about everything. Maybe this is her reaction to my cutting down on breastfeeding through the day. Her acting up on top of all the other stress in my life (which I don't even get into in this blog because it would take a whole other blog in itself and I barely have time for this one) is just about putting me over the edge. My Mom thinks that Michelle feeds off my stress and that it's a vicious cycle between the two of us. She stresses me out then I stress her out ad infinitum. I try to relax but it's difficult with a demanding, impossible baby and everything else I have to do without help.

It's hard when you get no break. The closest thing I had to a vacation was a trip to the dentist recently. I used to hate going to the dentist but now it's a peaceful refuge from the chaos at home. Ironically you'd think I'd be looking forward to going back to work to have a break from Michelle but instead it makes me sick to think of leaving her. I also worry about my Mom watching her. Even my Mom is concerned she may not be able to handle it. She's only ever babysat Michelle for a couple of hours at the most. I don't know what Michelle is going to think either. She's used to me being there 24-7. She may think I've abandoned her. She won't understand where Mama has gone. It breaks my heart.

Some days it seems like everything is weighing on me so much I just may crack. I try to keep my sense of humour but when you're stressed about everything (finances, life, work, home, not to mention raising a baby on your own) and on no sleep, it's not easy. Weaning may be taking a toll on me as well. Emotionally and physically I'm going through a big change. I was warned that hormone levels can drop dramatically when you start to wean. My monthly visitor is back (some people were surprised my periods didn't come back sooner but perhaps it was because I used to nurse so often). At least I don't get cramps anymore (I used to get unbearable ones before having Michelle but I guess after labour anything else is a cakewalk!) I do still get PMS moodiness and for whatever reason PMS makes my IBS that much worse. Sorry this is WAY TMI (too much info).

As tough as things have been, I try to look at the bright side. Some of the hardest moments of my life became cherished memories over time. I may look back on these struggles at some point and laugh. Right now it's tough. Some days I don't know how I'll cope with everything. Picking up teddy bears is the easiest thing to do these days. It's everything else that's not so simple to sort out. I have faith that somehow it's all going to be OK. It's just scary when I don't know how.

Even on her worst days Michelle always has at least a few moments that melt my heart and make me smile. She's getting better at walking every day. Now she can even make it across the room. When she takes her little excited wobbly steps toward me and falls into my arms, I could almost forgive her for anything. Despite the difficulties I have to remember how precious these days are and how lucky I am to have this sweet, feisty, impossible little girl.


  1. Oh Anne Marie! I'm so sorry you & Michelle are having a rough go if it lately. Please know you can always email me off blog if you need to vent or have a sympathetic ear.

    By the sounds of it, Michelle is right on track with this behavior. I remember Elena going thru a similar phase about that age. Then add weaning & the huge hormonal shift that goes along with that & I thought I was literally going crazy!!!

    The advice or Dr gave us when Elena was fighting eating ad you describe Michelle is, was that kids will not starve themselves. He suggested I not push her to eat but offer food often & let her decide how much. Even if its only a few spoonfuls. For a while all Elena would eat was yogurt!!

    It all has to do with a developmental stage the she's first figuring out her independence & wants to exercise it in any way she can but has few eating & clearing shelves. Hang in's so hard when you're in the thick of it but you're right that as you look back it'll be a good memory...well maybe not good ;) But you'll come out the other side & move on to the next parenting frustration.

    1. Thank you so much. It helps to have a sympathetic ear and to know that it's normal behaviour! So many times I've thought "this is the hardest stage!" I guess each stage in development comes with its own challenges. (This does feel like the hardest though for a number of reasons. Partly hormonal for me as well...)