I’m sitting on the toilet, pretending to eat a fake carrot as my toddler stands less than an inch from my bent knees begging me to keep going.

“Eat more, mommy.”  She says, and pushes the carrot back to my face.  Again I make the “om nom nom” noise and pretend to nibble on the tip.  “It’s ice-cream!”  She yells, reminding me that I can’t even eat a fake carrot correctly, because now it’s been transformed into a fake ice-cream cone.  Get it together, mommy, her face says.  Parenting is kind of your job.  

Behind her I see the forgotten potty training chart.  It has just one lone sticker on it, marking that one exciting morning that she came running up to me and pleadingly said, “Pee pee on the potty?”  And led me by the hand to the bathroom.

Making the best out of a bad situation, parenting 101

I sat with her for what felt like an eternity on my hemorrhoid swollen butt, on the cold tile floor of the bathroom.  She had a plethora of books at her disposal.  I hadn’t even had a chance to grab my phone.  I sat there in bored silence watching as read book after book before declaring herself “all done” and asking for some toilet paper.

Sure enough, she peed during her leisurely reading hour and with all the enthusiasm I could muster, I gave her the sticker to place on her chart and the candy cane I had promised her so long ago for when she finally went on the potty.  That was almost a month ago.  The single sticker has sat lonely and forgotten until this moment.  My husband and I considered pushing the issue, really working to get her out of diapers before our second was born but we decided that it wasn’t a fight worth having.  If she’s not ready, she’s not ready.  Us forcing the issue is only going to make it harder on all of us.

A few hours later, and I’m trying to clean the living room.  I step around a million small toys that have somehow managed to become a part of the rotation.  There is no way that these toys are all appropriate for a two year old.  As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure the pile I see hidden in the darkness under the coffee table is just loose change.

I’ll kick what I can’t reach out of the way so that I can run the vacuum.  At this point, it’s just about getting the crushed goldfish crackers out of the carpet before we get ants.  I have long ago given up the hopes of a clean home.  That’s just another battle I can’t win.  It’s like shoveling while it’s still snowing.  Does it lessen your load?  Maybe.  Does it also create an endless cycle of work (that’s hell on your back)?  Yes.

The rest of the day is lost in a blur of small skirmishes.

“Get off the coffee table!”

“Don’t put that in your mouth!”

“PICK THOSE BLOCKS UP!”

Suddenly, it’s dinner time.  I don’t know where the day went, but it’s gone.  My husband will be home soon and all I have to show for my day is chaos.

Plus, dinner is just another battle.  Before my daughter started having opinions about stuff like food, I loved to cook.  Now, food is hit or miss, either it hits me when she whips her spoon around in the air while screaming, or it misses me completely and lands somewhere else.  I usually get to take a few bites of whatever I managed to make before I have to get up and get her something else (like when I give her a fork but she wants a spoon instead, or that time she was so disgusted by what I made she demanded peanut butter and jelly).

Yeah, I cater to my daughter’s food whims because I don’t want to eat crap I don’t like either.  Nine times out of ten she will try what I put in front of her before making her opinion known, and I don’t want to mess with those statistics.

I like having a child that will taste almost anything.  If I start making her eat stuff that she hates, that may all change.

After dinner (and the massive cleanup that comes with it), it’s time for yet another battle, bed time.  We actually have it pretty easy comparatively.  Yeah, there are times that she just won’t go down (like, all of the month of December), but for the most part she’s asleep within a half hour.  Sometimes I lose my patience and snap at her because by the end of the day, I really need the down time, too.

It seems like she’s always in a state of sleep transition though.  For a while she was sleeping through the night.  Then, she was sleeping until about 2AM and then waking up FOR. THE. DAY.  Now, thanks to Daylight Savings Time and all the recent upheaval in her life, her new thing is waking up at 4AM and then sometimes going back to sleep but also, sometimes not.  It’s always anyone’s guess as to when she will actually fall asleep and wake up.  And at 36-ish weeks pregnant, it’s killing me.

Eventually she’s asleep, then so am I.  Just in time to wake up the next day and start all over again.  It’s the same fight every day, but a little different.  Sometimes I gain some ground, and sometimes I lose some, but we both put up the good fight.

Plus, we live to fight another day, and really, that’s all parenting boils down to.  It’s not the wins, but the ability to do it all over again the next day.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

That’s a lie.  I would totally take it another way.  Is there an easier way?  You’d tell me if there was an easier way, right?