This past weekend really challenged my parenting abilities.
My wife worked two 24 hour shifts over the weekend (Friday into Saturday and Sunday into Monday.) That type of schedule isn’t uncommon for her, but it doesn’t occur as much as it did during her residency. I’d survived the residency days of taking care of a newborn and toddler and a preschooler all at once, so it’s normally not a problem to handle my 3, 5, and 8 year-olds.
The trouble started with the Blonde Bomber getting sick overnight Friday night. I was up most of the night with her and also had to get everyone up at 6am so First Born could be at her swim meet by 6:45 that morning. On Saturday morning, BB was still not well, she was tired and all she wanted was chocolate milk and raisins for breakfast. Those two things I didn’t particularly want to see vomited on me later that morning, I couldn’t let her have them…and she wasn’t happy about it. That discussion produced an hour of screaming/whining/crying along with her not wanting to change out of her jammies, put on shoes, wear a coat, get in the van, etc.
We made it through the rest of Saturday and most of Sunday with a few minor squabbles, but for the most part, just fine.
Sunday night, again while my wife was at work, I was watching the American Music Awards feeling 1000 years old (after not knowing ANY of the musical acts) when my daughter started screaming. I went upstairs to see what was wrong and to make sure she was ok. While talking to her and trying to get her to calm down, I woke her up. This was bad. She was having a night terror. She got out of bed and created chaos all over the house. She was screaming, kicking, punching. biting, beating the television, trying to leave through the garage…it was bad, really bad. I tried to hold her, I tried to take her outside, nothing worked. Apparently night terrors are fairly common in small children and they are a scary sight to behold. I had no clue what to do. Completely out of ideas, I called my wife at work and she gave me a few suggestions. As I hung up the phone, before I could try her ideas, I put my head on the table, I was mentally exhausted from what the BB could take out of me in a sixty minute time period. As I sat there, head on table for five minutes or so, she eventually stopped screaming, walked over to our couch, curled up and went to sleep.
Later that night she had another night terror. It was just as ugly and caused just as much sleep deprivation as the Friday night before. It was not a happy weekend.
Monday morning my two oldest and I were awake, getting ready for school when BB came down the stairs. She was already upset and crying about how everyone else was eating breakfast except for her, then she got really upset that her milk wasn’t chocolaty enough, that she couldn’t get the yogurt lid off (and didn’t want help), and that she would “never eat stupid strawberries again.” And then the crying started, again. It seemed like she’d been crying for 72 straight hours.
I was over it. The whole weekend she’d been wearing me down and this was it. There was an hour until her preschool started, but I couldn’t even take another minute of the screaming and crying. Thankfully, her preschool offers an early bird drop-off that can be used for only an extra five dollars (Considering the circumstances I probably would’ve paid $50.) So what did I do? I loaded her up in my van and dropped her off at early bird just so we wouldn’t have to be around each other for another minute. I couldn’t take it. Did I feel guilty? Oh, hell yes. I felt terrible. But, her and I simply needed a break from each other. To make matters worse, when I picked her up from school that day, she gave me a Thanksgiving craft that said, “I’m thankful for my mommy and daddy.” Well, didn’t I feel like the asshole.
This week as we all take a step back to be thankful for certain things, I set a goal for myself. My goal is to be a more patient dad. I really am thankful that I have three healthy kids and an awesome wife. It’s just that sometimes I’m not sure I act like it.