I’m losing my mind.
I’m not sure if the tiny thread of patience I have for my toddler’s shenanigans snapped the other day due to her antics as a boundary-pushing, inquisitive, and “helpful” child, or because it’s been two months since lockdown in the UK started and I’ve been forced to stay at home for way longer than I anticipated. Not having a place to take a break from my daughter, even when my extremely caring husband has her during our pre-arranged “you take the toddler” schedule, is grinding on me. I recently read (okay, listened to) a book that talked about the “third place,” a space that is neither work nor home, where people tend to socialize and congregate and generally catch up. Places like coffee shops, church, cafes, parks. The lockdown didn’t affect me much from the get-go; I’m not what you’d call a very social person. But the UK did put the kibosh on some of my favorite places to hang out by myself, such as the coffee shop in town with the great second story seating area perfect for taking three hours to sip a mocha and get some writing done, or the local National Trust houses and gardens that were a great break to take a walk in the woods with my dog and clear my head. Yes, I can (and have) been making daily cups of coffee at home. Yes, I can (and have) been getting outside every day for a walk or a garage gym session. But it’s not the same. I feel cooped up, pent up, angry with stupid rules put in place as a blanket solution to a dynamic problem, and frustrated at the slow pace of being able to get back to life as an independent, thinking adult.
The potty-training plateau hasn’t helped. Our wonderful daughter seems to be indifferent to the potty now. Yes, we still have small wins – like yesterday, when she asked for her potty, made the “pee” sign, and went like a champ while sitting on it – but the majority of our days are spent asking her if she needs to go to the toilet, her saying “no” in the most aggravatingly cute way, and five minutes later cleaning up her bodily excretions on the kitchen floor or hallway carpet. It’s exhausting. I made the command decision to stop logging her every movement since, well, what’s the point now? We know her schedule. She steadfastly refuses to go when she doesn’t want to and it’s all we can do to have her sit down when she’s in this mood. Plus, we don’t want the toilet to be this place she hates going to, so we relent and trust her answer and mostly get burned for it. We’ve tried keeping her in training pants and trousers, so maybe she’ll think peeing herself isn’t the way ahead, but we’re now at the “let her be naked” stage. Maybe if she sees where her urine and poo come from, she might understand the potty is the place to put them. And, some day, she’ll instigate the process herself. We’re still bending over backward to make sure she understands that #1 and #2 come from your body and should wind up in the toilet: we let her watch us go all the time. It’s awkwardly hilarious. You try pooping with a toddler’s head between your legs screaming, “Poo! Poo!” This is now my life.
The government here says nursery and some school years will open as of 1 June. Our nursery contacted us just after this announcement was made and asked if we planned on sending our daughter back. How do I type “HELL YES!” in a politely British fashion? My husband and I briefly entertained the notion of hiring a nanny for the three weeks we need to wait until things open up again, but we’re going to stick out these last two weeks. Inevitably, it’s wearing us both down, which means we’re yelling at our daughter and then yelling at each other. I sometimes wish we lived in a big, communal village surrounded by dozens of relatives so the childcare duties could be spread among grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings. I think a lot of people – the government included – have gone too far in their reaction to coronavirus, but then again, I’m not classified as a vulnerable person and I have no underlying conditions. I’m not sure if the gorgeous summer weather is helping or hurting my sense of being housebound.
Added to the stress of simply trying to manage working from home (which includes writing) with caring for a toddler, my husband and I are looking at buying a house soon. The real estate market recently opened back up, so we drove an hour away to a house we’ve been looking at online. We brought our daughter, who was so delighted to be back in the car that she promptly threw up curdled milk five minutes from our destination. Fortunately, we couldn’t bring her into the house to take a look around, so the real estate agent was spared the unmistakable stench of milk-vomit. This is the third time I’ve changed my daughter on the side of the road due to a stealth vom.
I know these are seriously first-world problems. I know I should be grateful my family, on both sides of the pond, has so far come through this pandemic unscathed. I know I shouldn’t bitch about my hair being too long, or the line at the grocery store too slow, or the lack of stores open too ridiculous. I should be thanking my lucky stars we have a steady paycheck coming in, we don’t have financial worries, and our marriage is holding up. But I suppose it’s human to air our grievances. In the past, I’ve been a person to bottle things up and later, sometimes much later, explode unexpectedly. I suppose it’s better for me to release steam in increments and apologize afterward, instead of waiting until it’s too late and things go nuclear. I feel like I’ve been waiting almost a year to restart my life with my husband – what’s a few more weeks?
Until we meet again…