I sat on the living room floor completely defeated, worn out, and feeling burning hot tears sear a path down my cheeks. I was ready to give up, give in, and give out. My body was spent. My mind was numb. My heart was broken. The person responsible for this sheer moment of complete devastation happened to be sitting right next to me.
“Mommy, Play!!!!” my two year old daughter squealed at me, holding up her Elsa and Anna dolls to my face.
I looked at my perfect little creation in that second in time and couldn’t believe the adorable blonde, blue-eyed smiley child begging me to play dolls with her was the same terror that spent the last hour of our morning screaming, crying, and thrashing about.
Yes, that’s right … my nemesis was my toddler.
I had heard of that silly phrase “terrible two’s.” I’ve even heard the new term “threenager.” In my mind I was picturing a rambunctious tot, running around, wrecking havoc on a home, getting into messes here and there, hiding from parents in a store, and being somewhat mischievous. You know, something I could actually handle. No one told me I would be spending my holiday weekend morning still in my bathrobe at 11 a.m., crying on the living room floor because of another toddler meltdown that had ensued simply because someone who shall remain nameless (I think you all know who) didn’t want to go “tinkle in the potty.”
I write this because I am in the throes of toddlerhood and anyone else going through it needs someone to just come out and say it. And really say it out loud. Toddlers are TERRIBLE. If you are experiencing the constant “I no like it,” “I don’t,” and other spin-offs on the simple connotation that is synonymous with a big fat “NO” that a toddler decides to interject in every new sentence, I am here to say “I’m sorry” and pass you a virtual bottle of wine.
Yeah, we love our kids. They are awesome at times. And those moments where they learn something new, are genuinely sweet and loving, or are being absolutely innocent and pure are what parenting dreams are made of. I love my daughter with a love I cannot even describe in words. But lately, liking her is a different story.
I would love to give you advice on this subject and offer a resolution to all the parents out there in the trenches of toddlerhood, but I don’t have one. I can give you a few tips that have given me some sanity and maybe make you smile on a day that it may be difficult to.
Tip 1: Let someone help you get a break.
That morning I sat on the floor with my daughter, my husband happened to be home. He told me to go upstairs and take a nap, and that he would handle the kids for a few hours. Normally, I would’ve fought him and tried to be “supermom,” but the fact is – I’m NOT supermom. I was up late the night before and through the night with my infant, I was exhausted from having company all weekend, and I had just managed to not kill my daughter after a solid hour-long tantrum. So, I did. He followed me up to our bedroom, laid a soft blanket over me, kissed me on my forehead and three hours later when I awoke I felt somewhat human and even liked my kids again.
Tip 2: Learn to breathe – deeply.
I used to practice Yoga before I had kids. I loved the fact that I could tune everything out with a deep breath and actually feel my inner spirit calm. I can say learning to breathe not only helped me through labor, but it helps me on a daily basis. Before I lose it or overreact, I take a deep, slow Yoga breath and proceed.
Tip 3: Don’t put the kids to bed when they are tired, put the kids to bed when you are tired of them.
I read this in an article somewhere and it has been life changing for us. My husband and I need the kids to be in bed so we can have a few hours for one another – whether it’s to have an adult conversation about our days, zone out on our phones, or watch re-runs of our favorite show, Modern Family. Most times when we are tired of the kids, they are just as tired.
Tip 4: Book a sitter.
Even if it’s just for two hours. Get out alone. Go grab a coffee, browse the aisles at Target by yourself. Go sneak in a trip to Trader Joe’s and buy some flowers and some wine. Blast your radio in your car to your favorite music and let the windows down. Just be YOU for a few hours. Not “mommy”… just YOU. It will go a long way when you get home and within minutes your child starts being … well …them.
Tip 5: Remember to laugh at yourself.
I texted my best friend “Motherhood sucks #$%^&*! balls, dude” randomly one afternoon. I actually started laughing out loud when I re-read it. She of course responded “Lol!!! Literally just did” – because she’s been through it and she knows. My husband is the best at making me laugh and he does it everyday. Life is too short to be so serious.
So, to all my toddler parents out there … let’s just take a deep breath (or a sip, or both) and remember that this too shall pass. It better or we won’t make it to the teenage years.