The day to day routine of staying home can become monotonous at times. Â Okay, more than “at times.” Every single day I can always count on Ellie protesting what to wear, what to eat and what to watch. She’ll say one thing, change her mind five minutes later, and then change back again. It’s amazing that in this chaos a “routine” even exists.
I consider myself to be a really easy-going, laid-back, patient person. But this dreary hectic day-to-day routine is really starting to wear on me, and I think Ellie is starting to notice too.
Every day starts with her asking to watch her show. “Daddy, I want my show. Let’s watch my show. My show.” Before I can even say “good morning,” I’ve been hit with a barrage of “my shows” whittling away the smile I try to start each day with.
And when I say, “No Ellie, no show, how about you play or read your book,” she’ll tell me she’s going to watch her show. Like it’s a good idea for the both of us to do it. “We’ll go downstairs and watch my show. Okay? Does that sound like fun?” she’ll say with a smile.
She says it like I have something to gain from watching Dora. Or maybe she thinks it’ll be good daddy daughter bonding time. “One Dora, come on!”
But when I still say, “no”, she’ll try to shove me off into the kitchen. “You go make food, and I’ll watch my show. Okay?” she’ll say while still waiting for my approval.
When I still don’t give in, she’ll focus on breakfast.
Everyday it’s a given she’ll ask for pancakes. And when I suggest oatmeal instead she’ll say, “Pancakes?” And when I shake my head no and ask what she wants instead of pancakes, she’ll say oatmeal like it was her idea. “How about oatmeal!?”
But of course, she doesn’t want it plain. She wants chocolate chips in it. She saw Aya put chocolate chips in her oatmeal once, and now every time some says the words “oatmeal,” she says, “I want oatmeal!… with chocolate.” But since I’m the mean ogre, I negotiate her down to the more sensible apples and cinnamon.
While Ellie is eating her breakfast, this is my best chance to take a shower. Chloe sits in the bouncy chair while I enjoy a leisure five minute shower. But like clockwork, as soon as I step in, she starts crying. No matter when I change her diaper or if she has or hasn’t already pooped, she waits until I step inside the shower to take a monster dump. (sigh)
Instead of jumping out and skipping the use of soap, I start to sing to her to calm her down. This usually buys me a few minutes until Ellie hears me. In between versus, I hear her roaring up the stairs protesting as she storms her way into the bathroom. “No daddy! Don’t sing! That’s my song!”
I would sing Chloe’s song, but I don’t know the words.
She leaves in a huff after a short while, but not before re-upsetting Chloe again. By this time, the fake smile I started the day with has faded and my face now looks like a crumpled up piece of paper.
Once it’s time to get dressed, I know Ellie will ask to wear her black dress. And when she finally believes me that it really is dirty and in the laundry because she just wore it yesterday, she’ll start to entertain other options. But mostly, she’ll run around the room in her diaper avoiding the task at hand.
That’s when I realize what’s coming next.
She has that look in her eyes where I see Ellie leaving and her alter ego “Eloise” coming. I can see how this is going to end before it happens but I can’t stop it. A simple task of picking out and changing her clothes is going to end with an epic meltdown. It’s not even 9am and I’m already completely worn out and wondering if it’s naptime yet.
The other day, by the time I got Ellie in the car to go to storytime, I was so irritated and frustrated. Getting her shoes and coat on was such an ordeal I was officially cranky and not happy when we got in the car. Ellie sweetly asked for “her song” on the radio, and having no patience left I snapped back, “No!”
She responded, “Daddy, are you happy?”
“No Ellie, I’m not happy right now.”
She said, “Daddy, I make you happy!”
Then she counted to three and waved her toy magic wand at me with swishing sounds and smiled.
That simple swish of a stick cracked right through my foulness and I couldn’t help but smile.
“It worked!” she said with a smile. “See daddy, you’re happy!”
As we drove to the library I felt bad. Not so much because I snapped at Ellie, but because I wasn’t in control of my own emotions. It was a reflex. And then I really started to ponder her question. “Are you happy?” I thought about how I don’t smile much lately. How I always feel tired and cranky. How over the past few months I’ve felt like it’s been harder and harder to hang on to my sense of self. Annoyed feeling like all I have to talk about is which kid frustrated me and what I made for dinner. I wondered, am I happy?
It wasn’t until later that night when Ellie didn’t want to sleep and Chloe was restless and needed some extra comfort. We were all in bed together. Ellie was nuzzled on one side of me and Chloe on the other. All I could hear was gentle breathing and a few baby snores.
And then I thought, “Yeah, I really am happy.”