I feel like with every great parenting victory, there is always a dark side--the struggle to get there, unintended consequences, you name it. With Carter's birthday party, it was the 18 hours prior.
On Saturday I had a ton of prep work to do, but I was alone since Craig was on the road. When I woke up, I was starting to feel like I had a cold starting. My throat had been sore for a couple days, but I wasn't sure if that had to do with an extreme amount of screaming at the kids, particularly Friday night. But I woke up pretty exhausted and with some annoying congestion, which started to worry me. I dragged myself around the house, randomly cleaning everything in sight. I Magic Erasered the walls, wiped down my kitchen, cleaned mirrors, scrubbed the bathroom thoroughly, vacuumed the top two floors completely, and cleaned whatever random thing I saw that had been neglected far too long. It felt like pregnancy nesting with the constant cleaning tangents. I took a break during Carter's nap to pay bills while catching up on some TV, but the rest of the day kept me moving. I had to bake two cake layers and start the base for a pasta-based salad in the evening, and by the time the boys were in bed, all I wanted to do was rest...but I had so much to do that I stayed up until after 1am. I knew on some level that was dumb since I was feeling so crappy, but I also knew I only had so much time to get things done on Sunday, so I pushed through.
Craig got home at 1:45am from Toronto, and I briefly woke up for that. Morning came way too soon when Carter woke up just before my alarm at 7:30. The plan was to go to church, stop briefly at the store, and then come home to start getting ready for lunch and the party. Well, as it usually is, getting ready for church was a challenge. Jacob was extra difficult about getting dressed. He didn't want to wear those pants, this shirt smells like rubber (it didn't), and on and on...all while just laying there on his floor whining about it. This went on for an extreme amount of time, and was completely intolerable. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and put on the clothes. Geez. I don't think Craig was planning on going to church since he'd had a late night, but between my frustrations, the ease of just being able to run into a store rather than drag the kids in, and the fact I was up pretty much as late as he was, prompted him to get up and get ready to go with us. The frustrations continued when he dawdled when it came time to put on his shoe (still has the boot on one foot) and was constantly complaining about how he wants new sneakers (which he needs, though we've told him repeatedly we're not going to do it until he can wear both shoes, as we'd like them to wear equally).
Long story short, by the time we got into the car I was fuming. We were running late, again, just because of Jacob's ridiculousness. By the time we parked and got the kids to Sunday School, we'd have been at least 10 minutes late to church. And as we pulled into the parking lot, my cold was bothering me more and I now had a nauseated feeling. It could have been my frustration boiling up, it could have been tiredness, it could have been anything...but with everyone still cranky, it seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back. I pulled into a spot, expressed my anger yet again, and then I snapped. I put the car in reverse and pulled right back out of the lot. I think internally all I could think was that I'd had so much anger that morning that it would seem downright hypocritical to have to go into church, put on a smile, and act normal. I was too angry to absorb the message. We were super late yet again. Everything just felt wrong. So we went home. It was a tearful drive, and my tears continued for quite a while after we got there. Interestingly, Carter was actually upset about leaving. Usually he gives us a lot of resistance when we drop him off at Sunday School, but he's always happy when we pick him up and he was upset we left. We assured him he didn't do anything wrong.
That whole episode was exhausting. The rest of the day I was actually a solid notch lower on the energy scale. Most of the time I'd try to push through and fake it, but honestly, this time I just couldn't. I was fine, I think, but I was definitely lacking a bit of pep and enthusiasm. The cold symptoms eased up a bit aside from a dull headache, but by the end of the party I was completely exhausted and could barely move from the couch. I'm still super tired today.
The worst part of all of it is that Jacob still doesn't seem to see that he was the cause of this. Craig tried to make that abundantly clear to him on the way home, but it's like he just can't internalize that he's wrong. He just doesn't get it. In his head, everything he's doing is completely rational and he has very good reason to argue with us. He was right back to his old tricks later and simply could not understand why we got mad. I just don't know what it's going to take to help him understand the trouble he's causing. It's a fine line between helping him understand the reality of our problems and making him feel worthless. I tell him all the time that we love him, but that often we don't like what he's doing. I hope he can understand that.
I'm glad the rest of the day went well, but for a while I wasn't sure. Anger and sadness are exhausting, and yesterday was a battle. It continued on tonight. We have to do something, but at this point I'm just not sure what.