Tantrums and Terrible Twos

For those of you who have followed my blog since my Little Bean was in the oven, you’ll know she is 17 months now. One month shy of being a year and a half. So many of you are thinking, well, she has got about 6 months until she gets thrown onto the emotional rollercoaster of her toddler, feels completely overwhelmed, and becomes a patient at a facility to overcome everything that takes place during the Terrible Twos. 

Well,  buckle up people, have I got some terrifying news for you.

The Terrible Twos don’t always happen when they’re two!

Apparently, children don’t give two flying fluffy ducks about milestones and schedules. They do what they want when they want and you just have to deal with it as their parents. All those timelines and studies they’ve done to give you a rough idea of when things with happen? Just chuck those right on out the window, you’re in Crazy Town now and there are no maps. Up is down, and up, and sideways, and backwards, and down is anything is wants to be but always stops at a screaming toddler who bites when they are frustrated despite your best efforts.

I started to notice my daughter had a bit of an attitude to her as soon as she started walking which was around her 1st birthday. I remember sitting there thinking “This is way too much attitude for this tiny little person”. 

Every day she gets a little more and with that, takes a little bit more of my sanity away.

The word ‘No!’ is a bullet in my house, laced with hormones that explode and go all through her body every time I have the audacity to say it. Once those hormones have reached every corner of her body, she screams, turns red, throws herself on the floor and just goes haywire.

In the beginning, I found myself stepping in right away, trying to soothe her and talk her through it. After a bit of time I noticed the more I did this, the more often those tantrums happened. I found myself stepping back, letting the tantrums run their course and telling her I would talk to her again when she was done.

Some days, she just isn’t done.

*SIGH*

I think the most frustrating thing for a parent is trying to figure out if this is right? Am I doing the right thing? In the back of your mind and in the depths of your heart you tell yourself that if you were, it would be easier, and that thought alone plagues you with a pang of guilt that some days is crippling. There are days when the tantrums are constant and as a parent, especially if you are home with your little all by yourself, you just feel like a failure.

Then you go to bed, wake up, and for whatever reason, your child decides to skip the tantrums all together that day and you fond yourself wondering what went wrong the day before.

Children have very little logic. What is fun to them one day may drive them to hysterics the next. What they refuse to eat becomes a favourite food overnight and those moods are just as unpredictable. The lack of communication between you and your toddler never feels too obvious as when they are just flipping their noodle and you are sitting there begging them to give you some sign of what is wrong.

What does this mean for us logical adults trying to parent to the best of our abilities? It means sometimes we have to bend a little for our sanity. I think people try and make parents out to be martyrs. You’re either doing it exactly like all the studies say, to hell with your own health, or you’re a bad parent.

To those people, I have a very special finger on each hand.

Maybe step away from the 100% organic, homegrown, ethical treats and give them a goldfish cracker if it means it gives you the time you need to regroup and catch your breath. Ignore that article about how screen time is no good for our kids (even though every kid from like the 50s was raised in front of the TV and are completely functional), and put on a movie you know will keep them entertained enough for you to wash your face, brush your teeth, and do whatever you need to do. Even if it is just to sit in silence without a clingy baby clawing at you and screaming.

DO IT FOR YOU!

A happy parent, is a happy kid and it is going to take a lot of effort to remain even functional, let alone happy when the waves of tantrums start to roll in… trust me, I have a new patch of grey hairs that will attest to this.

Comparison is a one way street to depression. Please, please, please, don’t look at the woman at the park with the kid the same age who is playing happily, grinning ear-to-ear while yours lashes out and kicks you while you try and load them back into the stroller. They have been there, or they are going to be. Just because they are not going through it right now, in front of your eyes, doesn’t mean they are a better parent than you.

We are all great mothers (and fathers)!

When the junky snacks, mindless programming, and bargaining doesn’t work just remember, THIS IS ONLY TEMPORARY! 

However wrong they may have been by calling them Terrible Twos the one thing they did get right was that it isn’t going to last forever. Once your child is better able to communicate their needs with you and understand your responses to their requests (AHEM DEMANDS) it will get easier.

Hang in! Binge-watch shows while you are going to bed while cramming junk food in your mouth for your sanity, and maybe have a little cry every now and then. You just have to run out the clock…

YOU CAN DO THIS!

A New, Emotional Me

Since I was a child, I was not the kind of person to cry freely. I shrug a lot off, bottle up more than I should, and thought suppressing tears that threatened to bubble over was an accomplishment.

Strength was beauty to me. Vulnerability was weakness and there was something so shameful in weakness. Weakness was like a wilting flower, sad and depressing.

Pregnancy changed that frame of mind for me. When I was pregnant, I was at my most vulnerable. Every waking moment was a struggle, a challenge I had to overcome. There were days when I was so uncomfortable, I didn’t even feel like I was myself anymore. I felt as though I were staring down at the water, watching the ripples completely change what I looked like.

Discomfort seemed never-ending.

Then suddenly, everything became still. I would get a day with minimal discomfort and feel like I could finally see myself again. Here I was, I was me, and I could get through this pregnancy.

Those were the days, the days when the waters were still when something lurked there underneath the surface.

It would happen suddenly, without prompting or warning. I would get a tightness in my throat, my eyes would cloud over and my chest would sink.

I found myself asking why a lot back then. I didn’t understand it, this wasn’t the person I was. Alone in my apartment, suddenly I was crying. Not just a sniffle and a lone tear. I was full out bawling, hysterically like my whole world was ending, for absolutely no reason.

It was ugly, it was so foreign to me, and it was this unprovoked weakness. One I thought was brought on by a new blend of emotions my body and my mind weren’t used to processing.

I thought of these emotions as a storm, thinking that along with my pregnancy, this would all pass.

My daughter is 6 months old now, and those emotions are still there. I get teary-eyed watching cartoon movies, I have a full on break down where I watch any movie where a parent receives bad news about their child over the phone like Soul Surfer or Walk. Ride. Rodeo.

Ads turn me into mush and even movies and shows that never affected me before can completely buckle me into an emotional rollercoaster.

That stoic person I once seemed like a distant memory. Now, I am this emotional ball of fatigue.

I definitely have realized that being a parent transforms you. It pulls you out of who you were and opens your eyes up to everything and everyone in a way you may not have considered before. And in that transformation, hopefully, comes a better understanding.

Our idea of women as a society is and has always been that our emotions are unreasonable and irrational. There are so many negative stereotypes that go along with women and our emotions that I personally feel like any public display of my emotion is downplayed or seen more as comical than for what it really is, which is genuine. Not all women are crazy or dramatic, but if someone sees you vulnerable just once, they will act as though that is the only way they’ve ever seen you.

Being a woman who is going through emotional changes is difficult. It’s hard to know who we can reach out to, we don’t know if there is anyone who will validate how we feel and not just make it seem like we are being hormonal. Even other women have fallen into asking us if we are on our periods when we tell them how we are feeling and about changes to our mental and emotional state.

Women are strong. We are given so much to constantly juggle, it’s understandable that at times our emotions get the best of us.

It’s okay. We are human, and our emotions are a huge part of that.

For any of your women out there who have been called over emotional, or crazy, or irrational. For those women who find themselves sobbing hysterically when they are on their own or just crying silently when the loneliness or sadness becomes a little too much.

There is beauty in your heartbreak, there is beauty in your vulnerability and your sadness.

You are beautiful! You are strong!

You can do this!