Without a doubt, the most difficult year of my life was the year that Brady was two and Sullivan was a new baby.
Brady was not only crazy, he was unpunishable, as in, nothing worked. And believe me, I tried just about everything. If I tried to put him in timeout, he would just sing a song to himself, or count his fingers, or do anything to make it an enjoyable experience rather than a punishment. He did the most maddening things at that age, like he would walk by a glass of water and just dump it over for no reason other than he wanted to. Sully was a new baby so it goes without saying that he required a lot of attention. I was dealing with the grief of losing my brother, we had just moved into our house, Mark had injured his back and was physically unable to help a whole lot. It was a tough year.
I was reminded of that year last week when I was dropping Sullivan off at preschool. We always arrive early because once I drop him off, it is a mad dash to get Brady to school on time. Another little boy in his class always arrives early as well and we wait together in the hall until it is time for school to start. I was telling his mother how much he reminds me of Brady at that age. I told her about how I used to have to hold him between my knees when I would buckle Sully into the car seat because otherwise he would take off and how we would walk out to the car in the morning and he would just run down the street at 6:15 am for no reason at all. Just as I was telling her how it gets easier, Brady bolted down the hallway of the school. So yeah, it gets easier, but not THAT much easier.
I do not work Fridays so it is my day to pretend that I am a stay at home mom. During that year, my Fridays seemed to stretch on for an eternity. I had countless meltdowns; so many days that Mark would come home from work and find me in tears, so many days when I really believed I might lose my mind if the kids did not take a nap, and so many days when I told myself that someday these kids would be in school and I just had to make it until then. One memory in particular comes to mind. My mom called me and asked what I was doing.
“I am standing outside the closet door, I put Brady in there for a punishment,” I told her. I was a mom on the edge.
“Jill,” she said, “You kind of sound like a crazy person right now.”
And I was. I was so crazy angry in that moment and I just remember thinking I put him in the closet for his own safety. For the life of me, I cannot even remember what he had done.
Today, I took the older boys to school and Colin and I came home to our quiet house. It was too quiet. I suddenly missed that year, the year when they were still a baby and a toddler and not big school boys. I missed staying in our jammies all day because we had nowhere to go and I missed watching Dora’s Christmas Carol Adventure for the zillionth time and I missed the HUGE sense of accomplishment I felt when I actually got them both to take a nap at the same time, and how it felt like a luxury to take a hot shower.
Never, never would I have guessed that I would ever miss that year, but I did miss it for a brief moment. It was a very, very brief moment.