Ah, the toddler years. Talk to any mom who’s been there, and she’ll tell you. These beautiful monsters will push you to the brink of insanity, only to minutes later gently tuck their clammy little hand in yours and whisper, “I love you, Mommy”. That’s right, he’s got me.
This little boy has a special kind of grip on my heart. He can drive me to tears, and he can melt me. He’s some sort of wizard… I’m still figuring it out.
As I prepared for motherhood, I read books and talked to friends. I knew of the “Terrible Twos”. I thought to myself, kicking and screaming, sure. Melt downs at Target, I can handle it!
What I wasn’t quite prepared for, was the colossal amount of emotion that would surge through his veins at all times. How I would marvel at the highs and lows of one 24-hour period in the life of this tiny man. Navigating through a day with him can sometimes feel like a game of Minesweeper. Just when I think I’ve got him figured out…
He resets the rules by the minute. What I think of as a routine daily task can be life-altering to a 3 year old if done with the slightest variation from his vision. I enter each day with the very best of intentions, but knowing oh-so-well that I will tip toe around the inevitable emotional turmoil to come.
At the end of this long day I looked back and thought what went wrong? Here are the 10 ways things quickly went south.
1. I entered his room when he woke up.
How dare I greet him with a “Good morning, Sunshine!” upon him waking up and calling for me. A firm finger point and a “NO!” let me know we were off on a good foot.
2. I attempted to clothe him.
It’s not my first rodeo, so I knew jeans were out of the question. However, the selected “comfy cozy pants” were promptly rejected, as they were “sniff”…(stiff).
3. I fed him.
To his horror, I spread the icing on his Toaster Strudel incorrectly. I looked for an instruction manual before attempting this task but apparently I’m just supposed to wing it?! This resulted in explosive tears, obviously.
4. I asked him to get his shoes on.
5. I put him in the car.
Now in a mad rush to get out the door, I buckled him in his car seat instead of taking 7 minutes for him to do it himself. WRONG.
6. I suggested we play.
Later, upon picking him up from daycare, he asked if I had a surprise in the car for him. Does this kid think I have an endless supply of surprises? In my most up-beat, yet casual voice I chimed, “Nope… but let’s go home and play!”. Oh, the melt down.
7. I kept him safe.
During dinner, I foolishly presented a sippy cup, opposed to the “fancy cup” he had requested. I thought handing a three year old a stemless wine glass full of chocolate milk might not be the brightest idea. He disagreed, and expressed his feelings with an epic sob-show.
8. Bath time.
9. I gave him a snack.
With the holy grail of bedtime approaching, I knew the prized before-bed snack was a key event. On this particular night, I carefully sliced grapes to the perfect size for my little love. This was NOT well-received. His body shaking with anger, he shot fire through his eyes as he snapped that big boys eat big grapes. Choking hazard and all.
10. I entered bedtime with a plan.
(insert my toddler laughing)
After two stories, a song, a back scratch, 3 drinks and a trip to the potty…
He was asleep.
What is it about staring at your sleeping child through a monitor screen that makes every frustration from the day melt away? These toddler years are no joke. Do I have the answer to the emotional riddle? Absolutely not. All I can do is keep showering him with love, laughing at the absolute chaos of it all, and remembering that I once was a three year old angrily throwing veggies off my plate. Pass the wine.