Y’all. I’m afraid to write this without knocking on every wooden surface in my home, but, this parenting thing is getting easier. I’m pretty sure I hit bottom sometime in January (I recall a tearful Mommy & Me on a rainy morning where all the parents seemed like robots, smiling and discussing the wonders of parenthood, when all I wanted to do was cry and say “This fucking sucks. My kid fights me all day long and I’m doing all the hippie shit you’re prescribing and it’s not getting better!” Afterwards, all the other parents took their docile children in their arms and whisked them into cars while I stood in the rain, watching my kid try to throw a muddy, wet basketball into the basket, have a complete meltdown when said basket was not made, only to insist on doing it again, until I finally took him, soaking wet, filthy and screaming, to our car.), and then in March, big shifts started happening.
Seemingly overnight, Ian could be in the kitchen with me. Rather than being in self-destruct mode, he was curious and asked questions. When I asked for him to stay back from a hot stove, he listened. He was no longer making a bee line for the drawer with the knives, and instead went to the places he knew were child friendly.
He can sit and work on a project. Games are prolonged and interactive. He goes in and out of a box for 25 minutes, puts stickers on paper, or plays with clay (of course all he wants to do is make clay balls and bounce them, but it’s progress nonetheless).
What happened? A couple things. I think developing language has helped tremendously. The more he can relay to me and he feels understood, the longer he is happy. Also, I just think age has mellowed him a tiny bit so he’s not quite as much of a pinball as he was four short (LONG) months ago. Also, I think I’ve worked on myself and my reactions. I try to recognize when I’m having an emotional reaction to a behavior and check myself, rather than taking out my feelings on Ian. When I do this, I always learn that there is no problem, Ian is rocking the toddlerness and I’m struggling with my own feelings of guilt, anger, sadness, fear, whathaveyou.
Looking back, I think much of what made the hard times so very heart wrenching was my constant worry that “he’s always going to be like this.” The worry and head drama is way worse than the toddler antics, but you can’t really tell that to a first time mom. Or, at least not to a type A OCD anal-retentive mom.
The longer I work at this mama gig, I acknowledge my growing compassion and patience in the messy, messy process of witnessing a human evolve. He is not mine to fix or change. I simply get to marvel, keep him safe and, oh yeah, make all his meals and change another thousand or so diapers. But who’s counting?
PS Peeing on the potty is happening on the daily, he speaks in sentences, and his latest obsessions are Spiderman, and a teeny tiny 8 Ball he calls “Meatball” or “Marble.” He discovered both at the Santa Monica Pier.