I did not always want to be a mother. I never had a ticking clock. I never looked at other people’s babies and swooned in an “OMG I want one right now!” kind of way. I did not consider that it was just what adults do or the natural order of things. I liked our lifestyle, lack of financial concerns, and all around freedom. When my husband and I decided to have children it was with great forethought; I can honestly say it was a choice that was not made lightly. Not having much exposure to young children, we read up on the baby’s development and what to expect for early childhood progression. We flipped our world completely upside down, and traded our freedom and sleep for the enormous responsibility and total awe of rearing the helpless little angel that we had created.
And an angel she was. I was just as enamored with my little girl as any doting mother. For the first 18 months of her life I trumpeted every milestone, cheering her on as she learned her way, marveling at her easy disposition. What pure joy she had brought to our lives. I became much more certain of myself every day, and felt like I was beginning to find a strengthened comfort zone in my role as Mommy.
That was until she learned that vile two letter word that has been battered against my bruised and twitching brain for the better half of the last two years…”no”.
NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!!!!
“No” evolved into 3 and then 5 word sentences…
No, it isn’t.
No, I’m not.
No, I won’t.
No, I don’t want to!
Accompanying the elevated level of sentence structure are the acts of kicking, screaming, the pounding of fists, and general flailing around on the ground like a fish out of water.
What??? Where did this come from? When, oh my god when, does it end? I can remember hearing about the terrible two’s, and thinking, “How hard can it really be?” It would appear I never had a full grasp of the scope of what was to come. In fact, it was not until she turned 2 that fellow parents began saying to me, “Oh, wait until she turns 3…that’s much worse.” There is no way in one blog session that I can even come close to properly explaining just how very worse it got; how something as mundane as the request “please put your sneakers on” can at times set off a fire breathing, house shaking, Exorcist head spinning kind of reaction out of a 3 year old little girl. It is simply mind blowing.
More than any aspect of the challenge that is early childhood development, the stress this behavior assails on my body and my psyche is what leads me to sometimes barricade myself away from my daughter into our bathroom (while she continues to scream bloody hell in the hallway). During those few solitary moments I take in an effort to calm down, I could be found looking myself in the mirror, straight in the eyes, and thinking in total clarity and stinging tears, “I CANNOT DO THIS.” It is very unsettling to admit; a realization that is fraught with failure.
I do not regret our decision, but I am none the less reminded that this is territory I fretted over before we even conceived our first child. I decided I wanted to be a mother. I concerned myself over whether or not I’d be a good one. I worried that I’m not the type of person that has the patience to make that a reality. I decided it would take time, effort, and love. I decided I would make it work. After I revisit this thought process during a brief counting session (I would never have believed counting actually works) and take several deep breaths, I find the will to face my way back to my 33 pound bundle of wrath.
I just struggle so much with this end of the spectrum. When she’s feeling agreeable, we’re great! When she’s not getting her way, you can actually feel the air start to turn. I keep waiting for my daughter’s horrible 3’s to peak, to reach a point where I can say, “It’s getting better. We’re getting better.” We’re not there yet, and so I remind myself that this is the solidification of an independent soul; she’s going to be strong willed, opinionated, confident. Still, as my son is about to reach the 18 month marker, I cringe that it’s about to start all over again. When I think of this during one of my daughter’s more tempestuous moments, I want to find a deep dark hole in which to hide.
Please, tell me I’m not alone in these moments.