I've been a parent for 5 years now, and I still get totally blown away by how different a day (or moment, really) can be from one to another when you have kids.
Some days around here, my kids will play happily together all morning long without needing me for anything other than the occasional snack break or to reach something they are too short to reach. I've grown to cherish those days (although I wouldn't say they are rare by any means) and take advantage of the quiet time by taking care of work, cleaning or maybe even cooking or baking something (which is happening more and more since I made it a New Years resolution--we'll see how long that lasts, right?). When Owen started getting old enough to get lost in play like this with Zoe and I'd find myself all of the sudden not needed for a bit, I used to feel kind of bad or even lazy if I sat on the computer or in the kitchen drinking tea instead of getting involved with whatever they were doing. I had become so used to being the only playmate for Zoe and had never really been able to just do my own thing during the day if it wasn't nap/school time. I love her of course, but she doesn't really ever let you just chill out or work on your own projects...doesn't like to be alone and likes to be the leader so...yeah, it's exhausting, and yes I've tried everything to help her become more independent and she is in a lot of ways now that she's getting older. I think some people just like company though, and that's not something I think I have the power to change. Plus, sometimes it's easier (and more pleasant) to just play the damn game and get ordered around a bit than it is to endure the never ending whining and begging: "Moooooommmmmmy play with meeeeeee...Mooooooommmmmyyyy plaaaay with meeeee...." Anyway, so it took me a bit to shake the habit and I had to make a conscious effort to not stick my nose into everything going on in the other room ("C'mon, there's nothing wrong with sitting here and enjoying your tea, so just SIT.")
I'm a pro at it now having witnessed many times, that although my kids do have a lot of fun together most times, that happy vibe can do a complete turnaround just when I think my parenting life is starting to become a little easier. The knowledge of this is what allows me to notice the moment they start playing together nicely, sit my ass down wherever I feel like sitting it down and do whatever I feel like doing for as long as I can. As I said, I do this with the knowledge that it may not be like this the next day (or later in the day), but annoyingly a part of me always does silently say "Hey, maybe we're turning a corner here" and I am forced to laugh at myself when things get ugly again. Oh well.
Take yesterday and today. Yesterday morning, the two of them were little peas in a pod....at one point, they showed up suddenly (and with a hilarious sense of formality) in my room where I was working on the computer announcing that they were getting married.
Then today....it's one of those days where I don't even realize until there's a quiet moment (which didn't occur today until naptime this afternoon) that the three of us have been literally yelling all morning long. It's hard to not get annoyed with myself when I reflect on it because I know that part of the reason THEY are yelling is probably because I am yelling, but seriously it's hard to tell which comes first. Sometimes I'm just talking loudly because I'm trying to be heard above the screaming and crying and I end up yelling because I'm so annoyed no one is listening to me. Looking back I realize I could just wait a minute until the screaming dies down to calmly make whatever point I'm trying to make but man, that is easier said than done. It's SO HARD to keep a lid on your temper when your 2 year old spends all morning getting insanely mad at crazy, kooky things (and your 5 year old knows how to push that 2 year old's screechy buttons). For instance, first thing this morning Owen was sitting with me on the couch and he started saying "I want sompin to eat...NO I want to weed books...NO I want sompin to eat...NO" and I was trying to interject to help him get on track but he just started then saying "I want to eat books!!" and when I told him he couldn't eat his books he started screaming, "NOIWANTTOEATBOOKSNOIWANTTOEATBOOKSNOIWANTTOEATBOOKS!!!!" Being first thing in the morning, and therefore not completely run down by it yet, I tried to calmly and quietly tell him that he could eat something WHILE reading books but he was screaming so loudly and endlessly that he couldn't hear me. Eventually I had to raise my voice to get his attention....which started the cycle for the day. I hate it, but I don't think there's any other way sometimes. I know that some of you out there probably vehemently disagree with me and think that the best way to handle this stuff is to stay calm and collected but...well, it's not that I disagree..some days the stars are aligned for me and I'm able to pull this off really well, it's just that I think that setting that expectation for myself all day every day is just an impossible order to fill and I think that's okay. I mean, who on this earth could stay completely calm all of the time under these conditions? It's impossible, so I wish people would stop feeling like bad days like these, and losing your temper are signs of bad or unhealthy parenting and give themselves (and, therefore all of us) a break. Seriously a person can only take so much!