You may not notice it to read my words, but I am a whole year older now, having just had a birthday. Does that extra year add some wisdom to my words? Am I more relateable now with that little 2 tucked behind the 3? Maybe. Maybe not. Time will tell, I suppose.
One of the first things that strikes me when my birthday rolls around each year is just how much that day has changed for me. I have no doubt it's the whole "Grown-Up" thing, but when you're a kid, the day revolves around you entirely. Properly. As it should. Somewhere along the way, that changes entirely. These days, my birthday continues to be locked in the orbit of Ashlyn & Caedance, revolving steadily around the great sun of their childhoods. And I can't say that I mind this, not totally. The "Adult" in me says that this is just being responsible and that I am a good parent. However, the "Not-So-Adult" in me stomps her foot, pouts, and wails, "WHAT ABOUT ME!!! IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!". Alas.
This year I was on my own with the girls since Dan was unable to take the day off work. Not that I mind this, mind you. I don't. What I DO mind is when my little ones wake up on the far, far, FAR end of the very wrong side of bed. It's a rare magical duo who can be tucked into bed as Sugar & Spice, and then transform in the night to their alter egos, Snippet & Snarly before morning. Ta-DA!
Between their grumpy mumbles of general displeasure, I tried to keep my own spirits up (it was my birthday after all) while getting us all ready for the day. It seemed to be going well until Tooth brushing time, when one began "painting" the other with blue toothpaste. Paintee became Painter and swabbed the paste all over her sister in a Avatar-ian sort of way. Lovely. Amidst their wails of disapproval, I scrubbed them down and promptly kicked them out of the bathroom, telling them to go downstairs and get their shoes on.
As I continued to get ready, I heard the tell tale "thawump" of the heavy floor-vent in the living room being jostled back into position. I dashed down the stairs in time to see The Snarly-Sisters take off into the family room. Peering into the grate I saw two My Little Ponies, jammed and staring woefully up at me, silently lamenting their uncooperative role in this crime. I fished them out and resettled the grate. With purpose, I strode to find The Culprits, who were hiding in their family room lair. Each spent 6 minutes in time out. Each used that time making faces and growling back and forth on their separate couches. Each found a way to painstakingly pick at my frazzled and fraying nerves.
I decided that the cure for this bountiful Birthday Bliss (it WAS my birthday. Wasn't it?) was to get out of the house and hopefully free ourselves from the Grip of the Grumblies. Our destination was Lodi Outlet Mall. A good place that cleverly combines running outside and shopping. A magical world, really. As soon as we pulled in, Caedance began describing the soft pretzel she should be getting. I had already told her that we would not be getting soft pretzels today because we were going out to lunch instead. She moaned that it was the ONLY thing that was good and that it was her "Favorite and her Best". I informed her that we still weren't getting pretzels. And so started The Tantrum.
It was, in the history of Dickinson Twin Tantrums, perhaps the biggest, most powerful Tantum on record. Starting off as mere sobs which, when ignored, grew into more menacing growls which, when still ignored, morphed into large screams and wails of upset. When she got out of the car, the Tantrum went from merely a vocal show into an entire performance, with flapping arms and stomping feet. Face twisting between a pout and fiery rage, she screamed and shouted about not getting a soft pretzel. I, taking a deep breath and remainig calm, informed her that she needed to collect herself or be put into Time Out. Her answer was a swat at me, accented with a growl.
"Time Out it is then", I said guiding her to the nearest walkway. I set her against the railing and walked a few feet away to stand. I could see her. She could see me. She was safe. I was watching. First she flailed about, whapping the air and kicking her anger out. Then she flopped down on the ground and kicked some more. When a lady passed by, she started to scream, "She's going to step on ME!!" After the lady passed by, she stood up and pounded at the air, stomping her foot. Next she got desperate and she began to call out to passerby to help her.
"My mommy is putting me in danger!" she screamed to a passing couple who looked at her with bemusement. "In DANGER! Help me! Help MEEE!" I stood on. Watching. Waiting. As people passed by the showstopping performance that was Caedance's tantrum, they cast glances at me that clearly said, "You poor thing! You are a good mom; nay! A GREAT mom. In the annals of history, your perseverance to uphold your decrees will be looked upon with admiration and sheer awe." Well, that's what I hope they meant, anyway. The looks could just as easily been interpreted as sneers, I guess.
After 6 very long, very loud minutes, I went over to her and spoke in a calm voice that belied my inner upset. (IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!!) Anger spent, she quieted down and, before my eyes, transformed into my Little Girl again. Humming the tune to "Ding-Dong the Witch Is Dead", we walked along and finished our day of shopping with some mild success. (Sale at Gymboree). My mother took the girls to her house for the afternoon and so the rest of the day was spent at peace.
Later that night, I sat in wonder, looking back at The Day That Had Been My Birthday. Where were the accolades? The well-wishes? The attention? Sigh. Memories of birthdays past flitted crossed my mind's keen eye. Double sigh. But even as I missed some of the traditions that marked the birthdays of my youth, I was able to appreciate the new traditions that were forming in these early years of Motherhood. It may not have been a banner birthday, but it was another notch on my experience belt. Another lesson learned. A test passed. (I didn't freak out when Cae through the fit!!!) As I drifted off into an exhausted sleep, I found myself smiling in spite of the day's stresses and imagined misfortunes. Content.
I woke up raring to go the next morning. Decided it was going to be a better day. (And decreed it my holdover birthday from the day before). Ahhhh. 32. Here I am.