We have had a fun week celebrating Easter. We visited the Easter bunny, hosted a craft day, and spent Easter with family. There were a lot of great moments, smiles and laughter-however if you are a toddler mom you know those moments were likely sandwiched between tantrums and tears. As I adjust to life with a very head strong two-year-old I’m learning life with a toddler is very hot or cold. There’s no lukewarm in the world of a toddler. My son goes from giggling to crying and skips all the emotions in between; and as a stay at home mom I’m along for the emotional roller coaster with him most days. As an individual, outside being a mother-I know, how dare I talk about my identity outside being a mother-I value organization, stability, and routine. I’m someone who has struggled controlling her emotions in the past, and continue to work hard to stabilize my emotional health. A toddler tests this personal growth in me every…..single…..day. If you are one of those parents that can just let the tantrums and hysterics roll off your back, I commend you and humbly ask, what is your secret? Because my two-year-old has me living in these moments of highs and lows, my life is no longer lukewarm. I’m strapped in along for the roller coaster of raising a hard-headed toddler.
First thing in the morning I am woken up by either an elated toddler joyfully yelling for mommy; or the agonizing blood curdling screams of a toddler you can only imagine is getting his fingernails ripped off. Right from the start we are either hot or cold, happy or sad, there’s rarely a moment of being simply content, or neutral. Our days are filled with laughter and joy, accompanied with tears and anger-both experienced to the highest level possible. Coming from that golden age from 12 months to around 18 months, where they are a perfect blend of baby and toddler, two has been a hard adjustment for me. When you’re living in this place of intense emotion and unpredictability with your toddler each day it changes the way you function as a mother.
My son and I have always been very active and exploitative. We are rarely at home more than one day a week, ever since he was a baby. He was so easy and agreeable we went everywhere, and I rarely had to deal with outbursts. As we started to approach two the toddler behavior got worse, and along with it came the public tantrums and outbursts. I was suddenly that mom dragging her screaming toddler from the play area at the zoo, or the mall, or really any play area anywhere. My first instinct was to stay at home to avoid the judging looks and embarrassment of an out of control toddler. Which was the worst thing I could do. I had effectively isolated myself with my toddler while I allowed him to take me on his emotional roller coaster ride every day. I felt like I was the only one who couldn’t figure out this toddler thing. But I’m here to tell you, you are not alone, and neither was I. Here’s the secret no one tells you, no one has figured out how to control their toddler. That challenge seems similar to taming a wild stallion in my mind, knowing my extremely stubborn and smart toddler.
Those moms at the grocery store whose toddler is walking politely next to the cart don’t have some secret you don’t have. Those moms are in a high moment, while you are experiencing a low begging your son to get up off the floor. Isolating yourself out of fear of being vulnerable in a low moment is only furthering this idea that only perfect, well behaved toddlers go out in public; and if your toddler acts like, well a toddler, in any way you better hide away at home. Turns out the real-world truth is that there are no perfect toddlers, just like there are no perfect mothers. Toddlers are experiencing so many emotions for the first time, they are all emotionally unstable, its part of growing up and learning to process emotions. Yes, there are some children who are more easy going than others, but I find this is more reflective of personality that parenting technique. In most cases I believe toddler moms are battling these emotionally polarities on a daily basis, even a good toddler is still a toddler. I’m living in a world of highs and lows with my son, we cry every day, and we laugh every day. I’m not ashamed that I’m overwhelmed sometimes, or that sometimes I feel like a perfect mom. The glory of being a toddler mom is that you are both perfect and a mess simultaneously.
Any toddler parent out there knows the ups and downs wear on your emotions-we’re all human. We live in a culture where so much pressure is put on parents to be perfect, and raise perfect children. But that’s just not reality. The reality of parenting is that it is hard, there will be tears and tantrums; on both ends. You are not alone in struggling to adjust to your always changing child. You are not the only one who loses their temper with their child, or gets frustrated after an hour-long tantrum over how you cut their sandwich. This is the true nature of parenting, particularly parenting a toddler. The highs are so high. My son has said “I love you” to me for the first time, he has made friends of his own, he is kind, sweet, funny and makes me proud every day. But he is also wildly stubborn and independent, he has hit me, kicked me, screamed at me, and made me cry-and that was just last week. Those are the moments parents are told to keep hidden from the world. But that is my reality-and I believe the reality of most toddler parents. You can totally think your kid is a jerk but still love them more than anything in the world; and that pretty much sums up being a toddler mom in my world.
So, if you’ve ever felt like you’re the only one who can’t get their toddler under control I hope this helps you realize you are not. We’re all on this emotional roller coaster ride of toddler-dom together. You’re not the only one living in this world of highs and lows.