Somewhere along the way, things changed. I was just reading an old post I did called Withdrawal Mondays, and realized that my attitude towards my kids had shifted. Now instead of “can’t wait to be home with them to throw them up in the air and see the smile” I’m more at “can’t wait till bedtime when I get some peace and quiet”
Am I a bad father?
What will my kids think about this, when (if) they ever read this?
Maybe that will depend on if they have kids or not.
What changed? Me? Maybe. I know when I wrote that post Pax was only about a year old and Ella was just turning three. The two’s weren’t really terrible for her. Three was really when she started with some attitude and we went through kind of a slump there not knowing what to do. Pax has also gotten more vocal (read whiny) for whatever reason and also more opinionated on what he wants and when.
Ella is on the upswing of her first adolescence I think, she’s been kind(er) to Pax and to us. I think she sees us putting Pax in time-out and scolding him for hitting and not saying please and it has had an impact on her. And the fact that Pax now fights back when Ella tries to take things from him has helped her be a little gentler, too.
Pax though has switched gears and is now in full “Fight the Night” mode. There is always crying when he goes into his bed. He doesn’t like to say please, preferring instead to point and grunt. If I hold whatever he wants in front of him and tell him to say please, he gets frustrated and tenses his arms and fists until they shake and belts out a mad yell. He kicks you when you’re changing his diaper, and he pinches your face when he’s angry at you.
That all sounds horrible now as I type it, but I guess it’s all just part of being a parent. I just never wanted to be that dad you would rather be alone on the couch watching TV instead of playing with his kids, and I feel like I’m slipping into that.
Last night was unusual and has emphasized the changes even more to me. I was lying on the couch after a stressful day at work, Erica and Ella went with our neighbors to a ‘Friends Day’ at her ballet class, while Pax and I chilled at home. The evening started out rough, I had to put him in timeout twice for hitting me, but the second time I just told him to go to timeout and he walked over by himself, tears of protest flowing down his chubby cheeks, until he sat down and stopped crying. After that he was actually pretty pleasant.
Even though I was on the couch with my eyelids half open, Pax would bring me a ball and throw it at my head. Eventually I started popping it out of his hands before he threw it, which he thought was hilarious and also staved off the headache that was slowly coming on. Then he brought me a book and I read it to him and asked him to point to the objects. I was shocked at how much he could recognize and even some of the sounds he could repeat.
He also wrestled with me on the couch. He likes to just roll all over you and never actually get anywhere. I thought he was trying to get down so I’d slide him off the couch and he’d crawl right back up, twist, turn, and grab. It’s his way of wrestling and even though it’s slightly annoying I was still enjoying the fact that he seemed to be in a good mood. He hadn’t napped at all that afternoon and was showing non-violent signs of being tired, cuddling more and being less demanding.
What changed? Probably nothing, it was just when I wrote that post I was having more good days than bad, and that post was written on a good day. I still have good days (like today) with my kids, but lately more and more have seemed stressful and tiring.
Father’s Day is coming up, and I usually write letters to my kids and use the time to think about my fatherhood resolutions. This is good thought fodder for me.
How’s daddyhood going for you?