Frustrating Parent Lessons

It’s major confession time. If you aren’t prepared to share in the frustration of raising a toddler, today’s post probably isn’t for you. If you are still reading, please remember that I love my son just like any mother loves their child. As I partly shared in Loving Life with a Toddler: The Things I Most Appreciate Today there are countless things I love about him. I cherish and adore him. I would not give him up for anything. There are some things about raising a toddler boy that are also quite tough, however, and I’d like to talk about my current trials of parenthood.

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“Terrible Twos” is something I’ve heard about my entire life. I’m actually not convinced that the age of two is more or less trying than any other age. (Frankly, I’ve not been a mommy long enough to know; but I genuinely believe that there will be glorious happenings and tribulations to accompany each year our son progresses through.) There are things about raising a two-year-old that are incredibly difficult, at the moment, and I am finding this time to be extremely trying.

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So, here is the deal. Our two-year-old leaves his bed on repeated occasions every…single…night, despite the fact that he had been an incredible night sleeper at one point. Maybe we jumped ship too early on the crib thing, or maybe we are too accommodating when he joins us in bed. Either way, this makes for tired parents! We have received many ideas, tips and tricks to help him (and us) get through the night. We have tried them all but the tactic working the best right now is laying his mattress next to our bed. He is back in our room which feels like a failure, but I have to admit that we are sleeping better so I’m willing to live with an extra mattress on the floor. Frustrating Parent Lesson # 1: Regression. Sometimes our children take two steps forward…and one back.

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Our toddler is strong willed and determined. This is actually something I admire about him. It gets hard to navigate such a personality, however, when I am trying to be his mother. I think I have always recognized these traits in him. Everything he has done since joining us here on earth has been with full force and vigor. The boy knows what he wants. Now, he has learned the emotions and language that accompany acquiring his desires. I never thought I would be “that parent.” You know, the one who becomes so worn down by her toddler that the toddler “wins.” I’m here to share with you, friends, that I am “that mom” at times. I don’t have it in me to “break” him down all the time…and I honestly don’t want to. I want to foster his attributes. I want him to be a proud and strong person in this life. However, this can be exhausting and the moments when we battle through our personalities I am sometimes the one who has a melt down. Frustrating Parent Lesson # 2: Personalities. Our children’s strengths can present some of our biggest parenting challenges.

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Hitting, kicking, roughhousing, and throwing are a part of my everyday vexation. Yes, I sometimes feel like my son’s punching bag. I’ve become extremely sensitive to this lately and I’m truly struggling with his rationale for physical contact. If you don’t believe that a toddler can cause you pain, you are welcome to come do a trial run in our home. You may catch an unintentional elbow to the chest or a head-to-crotch shot from a hug. You may be lucky enough to experience a “snuggle” that starts out as a running, jumping, and clinging onto your throat, Kung Fu Panda style, choke hold from behind. (I’ve been fully knocked down by this one.) Or, you may just have the pleasure of having an Apple TV remote thrust at your face out of great excitement or intentional anger. Pick your poison…any of these “abuse by toddler” scenarios are real in our home. You’ll remember from reading Happy, Healthy & Loved. Stop the Mommy Wars! Part III and Coping with Toddler Tantrums that we work tirelessly to teach appropriate behavior. I’ll admit that I’ve lost my cool, however, in the midst of catching a quick and unexpected spank, pinch, or flying object. Our son is extremely physical and prefers Rough and Tumble Play. There are days when I need a break in my own hiding place or for Daddy D to just take over. Frustrating Parent Lesson # 3: Repetition. It takes time, and what seems to be endless reiteration, for small children to learn and remember appropriate behavior.

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I believe I am struggling so mightily right now because I’m seeing sides of myself that I don’t necessarily like or appreciate. This parenting experience has been extremely humbling and challenging, pushing me far beyond places I ever thought I’d go. We recently shared a graphic from Skip to my Lou’s Facebook page that feels so true to me, right now. I thought the artist had reached into my soul, captured my darkest secret, and shared it with the world:

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But, here I stand. I’m still working through frustration, failure and a lot of tears, trying to be the best mom I can. All those things that I adore about our son keep me going, and I’m constantly challenged to be a better parent because of him. All in all, he is also a pretty great kid and this is why I try to remind myself that I’m doing my best and today that needs to be enough. Thank you for sharing in the things that are current frustrations for me. What have been your recent tribulations and solutions?

5 thoughts on “Frustrating Parent Lessons

  1. Oh Chelse! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have felt alone in the fact that these things are hard and what am I going to mess up in her today. She is also beginning to find her independence. Of course, this is something that I so cherish and soooo do not cherish! She is also getting up at night- not consistently, but I too have given in and just putting her in bed with us. Right now, the tv is my worst enemy. She wants to “watch” all the time and especially wants to watch “nowman,” aka Frozen. She is in panties now for just about 2 weeks but still waits to poop until she gets her diaper on at bedtime. WHY! I have no idea. And, as much as I try to reason with her… you just can’t. You are not alone in your frustrations. I have lost my cool and then find myself apologizing to my 2 year old- usually in tears. I think it is important to say I’m sorry so she sees me take responsibility for my actions. I hope she learns the right thing from that. I hope it doesn’t mess her up. Thanks for the blog today, I needed it!!

    1. Isn’t it amazing how we can love something about our children but be so frustrated by it at the same time?! Glad you could connect, Heidi. It’s so nice to know that we aren’t alone! There is no way you are going to mess anything up…but I so understand that some days it sure is hard to remember that! Thanks for the support, friend!

  2. Thank you for your words. They made me laugh and cry because I’m in the same boat. Raising boys is way more challenging than I anticipated (we have a 10 yr old girl with special needs and she was easier than our son). Our biggest challenge is the screaming when he doesn’t get his way, which is most of the time! He’s so strong willed, which is great, but oh my now to deal with the screaming without breaking his spirit? My ear drums hurt all the time. We’ve tried everything, nothing works. Ideas? Suggestions? BTW, he’s only 20 months!!! The screaming started the month he began walking and found his independence.

    1. I only have a boy, but I’d agree, there are challenges that have surprised me! N, our 2-year-old, is also incredibly vocal and displays quite an impressive temper at times. When he is experiencing a “strong willed moment,” we try talking calmly with him to figure out the issue and help him identify the emotions he is feeling. This seems to work about half of the time. Like Chelse has mentioned, if that doesn’t work, I remind him, I can’t understand him or help him when he is screaming. And lastly, we tell him it’s okay if he needs to be upset but he needs to head to his room until he is calm. It is amazing how well this works for us. I’m not sure if it is because it’s a place he feels safe, if he quits because he isn’t getting a reaction from us, or if this is just our routine now. But, he’ll go to his room and scream or cry it out. When he’s finished, he comes out and we chat about what happened, hug and move on. I do recognize that each child is different and while a little separation works for mine, it isn’t what every child needs.

    2. Such great words from strong and amazing mothers, Janae and Kerstin. I believe it’s so important to remember that we are allowed to be frustrated. It’s a good thing to laugh AND cry! We are wonderful moms, doing one of the hardest jobs imaginable! I wrote another post about toddler tantrums. I have no idea if it will be helpful, but I did put a few tips in there, as well. Check it out and let me know: http://jellybeanjournals.com/coping-with-toddler-tantrums/

      Thank you SO MUCH for the comment! We love hearing from readers and fellow mommy warriors!!

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