This week has me all mixed up. Yesterday I kept thinking it was Tuesday already. Today I keep thinking it's Wednesday. This could make for a long week...
I don't like what pregnancy is doing to my parenting. I am short on energy and patience, two things that are fairly essential when dealing with a toddler, especially when you are trying to practice gentle discipline. I go from calm, happy mommy to crabby mommy in the matter of seconds, and immediately feel bad because he deserves better than that (and so do I) but it doesn't always feel like I can help it. So I lose my cool more often, and also resort to parenting "shortcuts" like TV more often... though then also discover that these "shortcuts" also tend to come back and bite you in the ass a lot of the time. For example, this morning D was clinging to my belly (literally-- he was following me around, keeping one hand on my belly) so I figured I'd buy myself an hour of peace and quiet by letting him watch TV, while I got to eat breakfast, get dressed, and get ready for our morning outing without an external toddler attachment. It was nice, but was it worth the massive tantrum he then threw when it was time to turn off the TV and get in the car? I don't know. I also know that so much of how positive or negative our interactions are depends on how I react to him. Nothing is ever 100%, and sometimes tantrums happen no matter what I do, but I can also head off many of them if I take the time to answer him or redirect his attention in the right way, but that usually takes patience and forethought and when I'm short on those I just snap at him instead and it all spirals downward from there.
I know this is temporary. Just last night I was remembering how I haven't always been like this, how I used to have more patience with D. As the birth starts to feel more imminent (and less like some far-off event in the future) that, the temporary nature of our situation as it stands right now, is becoming more real. At the same time, it's not like the time/energy/patience issues are going to get much better after the birth... at least for a while. I worry about these missed opportunities with D right now (6 months of crappy parenting doesn't seem like that long, except that it's a pretty significant chunk of time when you're only 2.5 yrs old), and about bad habits that we form (like relying on TV for entertainment/breaks) that may be hard to break later when I don't need as much of a crutch.
One wonderful thing is that Zach has been great at picking up the slack any time he can. He does his share (and more) of the household chores, and he makes a point of taking D off my hands when he can. On Sunday he spent the morning going to the farmer's market and grocery shopping (and ok, he did also go shopping for snow shoes...) and then when he got home, despite desperately wanting a nap, he instead loaded D up in his rain gear and took him outside to splash in the rain and puddles. He's also made it clear that, especially during this late-pregnancy/newborn transition period, childcare help is a priority and worth spending money on even at the possible expense of the rest of our budget. This is a huge help to me, as those breaks are/will be wonderful and something I would otherwise feel guilty for "indulging" in. I love the 2 mornings D spends with Arjun and their nanny, as a) it gives me a break and time to get other things done, and b) I know he's getting a full morning of fun, active, outdoor playtime with a very fun caretaker and little friend. It's a win-win.
I heard someone once say that the great thing about kids is you always get a second chance-- each new day, each moment, is a new opportunity. I can't change what I did yesterday, but I can try to handle things better today. So, my goals here-on forward are to be realistic with myself, and try to take each encounter as it comes and know I can also do better next time. One silver lining is that each time I lose my cool is an opportunity to then apologize and model for D how to gracefully admit and accept your mistakes. And so, I keep trying, and hope I'm not screwing my kid up too much in the process. ; )