There are many things in motherhood that are a complete mystery to me.
Why does our daughter ask for something and then cry when I give it to her?
How can she be so utterly sweet & adorable one minute and then such a monster the next?
The thing that confuses me the most is why do tantrums & meltdowns seem to be reserved only for me? Why does she eat with no arguments at daycare and take naps for Nana & most importantly why is she so sweet for her father & yet gives me such a hard time.
I share my exasperations with my husband. I tell him about my traumatic morning battles with our daughter. I explain how trying it is to wake her up & get her dressed and off to daycare. He looks at me and responds “Really, when I have her, she wakes right up and says she is ready to go to Miss Laura’s. We get dressed without any problems” Of course you do. Of course. Once again, not only do I feel as if I am an inadequate mother, but I feel as if it my stories of these difficult mornings seem like nothing more than an over-exaggeration or a figment of my imagination. Am I perhaps crazy? Is she really not as difficult as I think?
On the mornings that my husband is home to bring our daughter to daycare, I am relieved. There are no fights, no struggles. I just get to hug and kiss everyone goodbye knowing that my husband will flawlessly carry out the morning routine.
This morning was one of his mornings. I heard our daughter stirring early & I immediately thought to myself “Here we go, another easy morning for hubby.” Then something strange happened. As I quickly moved around the house to get ready for work, I overheard something so familiar. “No Dada, I don’t want to change the diaper. No! Leave the dirty diaper on. I don’t like to go to Miss Laura’s. I want my owl shirt, not the polka dots.” For a half hour, I listened as they went back & forth. I intervened to offer a hand a couple of times, but had to leave for work.
En route to work, my husband called me.
“Is that what you go through when you take her to daycare in the morning?”
“Yes, every time.”
“Oh my god! Don’t ever leave us. That was horrible”
The edges of my lips slowly raised into a satisfied smile. Silly daddy, I would never leave either of you. I love my family, meltdowns & all.
Since the terrible twos have hit, I have felt pretty good about my ability in diffusing tantrums and meltdowns. While I sometimes complain or joke about how awful it is, inside I felt as if I had a good handle on it. I even kind of found a few of her fits humorous, although I would never laugh. I thought to myself the two aren’t so terrible. She was such a challenging infant that this is a breeze. As usual in life as soon as you think something like this, there will be a moment to prove you wrong. Today, was a very bad day. It started off innocently enough. In the morning, we read books in bed, we painted pictures & did a little house cleaning.
I tried putting Mai down for an early nap, but she was not sleepy. I was taking her to story time at a local museum today. A children’s author and illustrator was going to read some of his favorite stories and then show the kids how he did some of his illustrations. I thought this was right up my daughter’s alley as she loved books and has always enjoyed watching me draw, plus I try to let her interact with other children as often as possible. When we arrived at the museum, we were greeted with Hawaiin leis, sunglasses and juice boxes for the kids. There were rows of stools for all the children to sit on while they listened to an amusing tale about a jelly fish and his fish friend Peanut butter. Mai interacted with the other children and happily listened to the story and clapped at the colorful illustrations.
After the stories, the author pulled out an easel and engaged the children, asking them to give him a sea creature and an emotion to draw. The older children shouted out answers “happy trout”, hungry salmon”,”burping shark”. Mai pushed through the crowd to get closer to the action.
As she got to the front where all of the kids were sitting Indian style, she kept going. “Mai Mai wants to draw”. Uh Oh! Mommy jumped up and ran to get her. “No honey, he is drawing. You can sit with the other kids and watch.” “Mai Mai wants to draw too.”. “Mai, come on and sit down with mommy.” But, she kept pushing forward. I scooped her up and brought her to the front of the pack, where we sat down. She fought to get up and go to the easel. “Mai we will have to go home if you don’t sit down.” I whispered. She arched her back & wriggled out my arms, screaming. It was definitely time to go. As I gathered up her backpack and our spring jackets, she continued her frustrated display. We walked out of the room leaving a trail of yells and cries echoing over the voice of the author. Stares & glares were directed our way as I struggled to hold my frantic daughter in my arms as she yelled the words “Don’t take me”. I quickly left the building before the desk attendant had the opportunity to dial 911 and report a child abduction.
The scene in the parking lot was not much better. She continued to scream “don’t take me “while kicking her feet & trying to thrust herself out of my arms. It is amazing how freakishly strong your child is when they want to get away. While trying to load her in the car, her tiny little hands grabbed the edge of the door and she spread her body out wide to make it nearly impossible for me to get her into the car. I tried to calm her down with some toys that were in the backseat. I tried to calm her with soft words and then a few loud ones. The screaming and resistance would not end. I could not get her in the car seat. I sat in the backseat with my daughter writhing on my lap and closed the door. I let the tantrum run it’s course as I took long deep breaths in order to keep my composure. After a short while that felt rather long, she flipped the switch. She picked up the toy I presented her earlier and said “Mama look.” It was finally over.
When something like this happens, it makes you question your parenting. What am I doing wrong? Why did this happen? How should I have handled this? When all eyes are on you, you can’t help but feel judged. You are even judging yourself.
We both went down for a nap when we got home. When she woke up both our batteries were recharged and my lovely girl was back again. The rest of the evening was filled with living room picnics, more books and sheet forts. The horrors of the afternoon almost seemed a distant memory. Besides, how can I stay mad at this face?
It was a bad night for mommy. The terrible twos have blown through our home like a tornado & have left exhaustion & frustration in its wake. Tonight was especially rough. My daughter had a meltdown that lasted from the moment I came home until I tucked her into her crib. Collapsing on the couch with a beer and a headache got me thinking. What is my little girl so distressed about? Sure she is contending with a lot of young emotions and her little brain is taking in a lot, but all in all, I have to say I think that she has it pretty good. I would not mind being in her shoes for a few days.
Here are 10 reasons that I wish I could be a toddler.
1. I could wear footie pajamas every day. I used to joke with my husband all the time that I wish I could spend all day in footie pajamas like our daughter did. My hubby obliged & last mother’s day I ended up with a pair of these.
2. Chubby belly & thighs are considered cute. If this were only true for me, I would be considered a goddess.
3. Running around naked is acceptable. I am sort of a nudist. If it was socially acceptable, I might never put clothes on.
4. Napping I don’t understand why my daughter fights napping so much . It is wonderful. You don’t realize how much you love a good nap until you can’t take them when you want anymore.
5. You can get away with wearing anything. As adults we are always so self-conscious of our appearance & what other people think of it. I am guessing I could not get away with this mis-matched ensemble that daddy put her in one day.
6. Everything you do is funny, smart & cute. I can’t remember the last time someone oohed & aaahed over me smelling my own feet or farting. It just doesn’t happen.
7. If you pee or poop in your pants it is not embarrassing. Ok, ok, it is not that I do these things, but if I did it would be nice to know that someone would be ready with a pack of water wipes & some powder to wipe my bum down with.
8. When you are mad, you can throw a tantrum. As adults we often have to suppress these feelings which leave us stressed. How wonderful would it be to have a toddler-like tantrum & throw things & pound your fists on the floor? I would like to try this at work tomorrow & see what happens.
9. You can be a slob. How fun would it be to enjoy your food so whole heartedly? I would drop food all over myself & not bat an eyelash. When you make a mess, somewhere is always there to clean it up for you.
10. The world is your playground. One thing that I find so wonderful about my daughter is that everything is so new & exciting to her. Things that we take for granted, fill her with such wide-eyed wonder. I would love to be able to see things again through a child’s eyes.
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