We’ve all heard the term “the terrible twos,” and if you are anything like me, before you became a mom you probably rolled your eyes at it and silently told those mamas to get it together. Let me preface all of this by saying that since the day I became a mama (a little over 2 years ago), I have been seriously obsessed with all things baby and motherhood. For my first 24 months of parenting, I felt like I was nailing it. Sure, not everyday was rainbows and unicorns, but for the most part I felt like I was able to adapt and roll with each new stage that was thrown my way.
That is until my son turned 2. (Cue ominous music)
Each time a friend started to warn me about this “terrible two” stage, I laughed it off and thought “no way it happens to us. Not to my sweet little guy, who is hands down my favorite person on the planet.” But then it did. Something flipped that week of his second birthday. He got whinier than ever, clingier than ever, and for the first time in my journey as a mom, I didn’t know what to do. I was at my wits end. I’m not talking “3am newborn, you haven’t strung more than an hour of sleep together in weeks” wits end. I’m talking “I can’t even make a cup of coffee without hearing ‘mama’ 793 times.”
I felt like a semi truck had hit me! In a matter of a week, I went from planning out magical days filled with field trips to wondering how long into our morning I would feel like I was going to lose it! Real life y’all.
Now that I’m almost 2 months into this stage (making me a qualified expert, right?), I’ve had a chance to take a step back and evaluate what would help both my son and I go back to a place where we weren’t making each other crazy. Here’s what I’ve determined.
Get Help/Take A Breather
This one will certainly look different for everyone. For us, I had been certain I didn’t want my son to start preschool until he was 3. No question. The more we started driving each other nuts at home, the more I changed my mind. He now is in one half day of preschool a week and it’s a game changer. Not only does it let me miss him, but I pick him up feeling refreshed and excited to spend the rest of our day together.
If there is only one thing you take away from this article let it be this: needing a minute by yourself doesn’t make you a bad mom. It makes you human. So if there are days where the only 5 minutes you can find by yourself is locking yourself in the bathroom… Do it.
The majority of the time, when I feel myself start to get annoyed at the constant “mama. mama. mama.” is when my full attention isn’t on my son. Whether it’s trying to send an email or write a grocery list, the minute I’m no longer sitting in his playroom, coloring my 70th cement mixer of the hour, he starts calling for me. And even just typing that out makes me feel like a complete jerk.
He had been great for months at playing independently here and there, so the sudden shift completely caught me off guard. Everyday I’m consciously working on slowing down and giving him my attention. No, the dishwasher isn’t going to magically unload itself, but it will still be there for me to unload during naptime, so I can play with my kiddo now – after all, isn’t that why I’m staying home? So I can spend time with him and love on him as much as I can?
So what if he wants nothing more right now then to sit and play trucks with his mama? There will come a day (likely in the not too distant future) when he is embarrassed to even have me around.
Remember that this is hard for them, too
There are so many changes going on inside of our littles around that 2 year mark, it’s no wonder things on the outside change, also. Becoming more observant of their world, having more of an opinion on what they want to do, molars popping through, and having new experiences are just a few ways our littles are stretched on any given day.
About three weeks ago my kiddo got growled at by another boy at the park, and he’s talked about it everyday since. In the hustle and bustle of play dates and rec center classes, it’s easy to forget that small experiences are very memorable for someone so young – everything has an impact.
It’s more important than ever for me to remember that while I get frustrated with him, sometimes he’s likely to feel the same way with me, but just doesn’t quite know how to express it with his limited vocabulary – thus the tantrums.
If there’s anything that mamahood has taught me, it’s that each season is more fleeting than the last. So while this has been the most challenging couple of months for me by far, I have no doubt that it will pass and we will be on to new challenges together, as we both continue to learn and grow in our roles.
In the end I’m trying to stay thankful, because even though my patience is tested everyday, that stretching of myself will ultimately make me a better mama. And I know that there will be a day when I miss hearing his little voice calling “mama” over and over and over and over… just not necessarily today.