Last week was a rough one. My 2-year old made me cry. She beat me down for 12 hours. I tried to hold back the tears after she went to bed. I couldn't. I felt drained, mentally and emotionally. I felt a little bit pathetic that a 25-pound tot did that to me. She yelled at me all day long. She wanted my attention constantly. She wanted that book and not this book. Tantrum. She wanted grapes and not watermelon. Crying. She wanted me to pick her up while I made breakfast. Ear-piercing screaming. She wanted (EVERY) toy that her sister had. Hitting and then more crying. It didn't stop...all...day...long. Even during my precious nap "break", she screamed from her crib, refusing to nap. After falling asleep briefly, she woke crankier than ever. She yanked and clawed at my chest, demanding milk. I tried reading, singing, playing with toys, going for a walk to the park, a car trip, food bribery and even You.Tube. The videos I put on were never right. I don't even think that she knew what she wanted for those three days, but it started minutes after waking from her 12-hour sleep and ended minutes before falling asleep for the night.
Maybe she was teething or maybe she was stressed about our move. I don't really know. I stayed calm. I gave in when I felt like it was appropriate and ignored her when I couldn't handle being near her. I gave her hugs and kisses and cuddles when needed. Maybe it is the parenting rookie in me, but it was hard not to feel like I was doing something wrong. My 2-year old was Jeky.ll & Hy.de.
I read this article, To The Parents of Small Children, a few days later. Hallelujah, I'm not a terrible parent! I feel like I am sometimes, even though I know, deep down, that I'm not.
Enjoy every moment! They grow up so fast. The strangers who say this to me, to all of us, must be remembering toddlerhood through rose-coloured glasses. On days like last week, I'm not usually enjoying the moment. On those challenging days, those kinds of comments make me feel guilty. If I'm not 'enjoying the moment', am I missing out? No. The good faaaaaaaaaar outweigh the bad. The girls and I have some incredibly perfect days or moments. We also have many, many good days filled with great moments. Those tough days make me appreciate the good ones that much more.
Time is the greatest gift to parents of young children. This isn't a quote from the article. It is from my mom. When I receive those emails from my brother offering to take the girls for a few hours, my day is instantly better. I no longer feel guilty over wanting time away from them because I know that that time makes me a better parent and a better person.
On those horribly challenging days, sometimes I need to scream. Sometimes I need to cry. Sometimes I need to vent. Sometimes I need to eat junk food. I'm trying really hard to recognize what I need during those times.
Sometimes it is as simple as breathe in, breathe out and the reminder that you're not alone, as Steve Wiens puts it.