Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Musings on the "Terrible Two's"

I've always heard of the Terrible Two's--talked about by veteran moms in a particular tone with a shrug of the shoulders and roll of the eyes, and sometimes, if enough time has elapsed since their child was actually two, a smile of remembrance at all the crazy battles and phases they experienced. I always thought it was because the child became a true monster in the rebellious teenager form, only younger. That may actually be true for some people, but I don't think that's what makes it difficult for me.
In general, as Joshua approached, and now has been two, I think he's still a pretty good, obedient kid most of the time. What I think wears me down is the constancy of his demand to exert control over what he does or doesn't do! Add to it all the major changes a child is supposed to make during that infamous year (bed transitions, potty training, pacifier weaning, etc.) and I guess it's no wonder that both parent and child feel tried to the limit some days.
I have been surprised at how willing my typically sweet child is to instantly melt down into "that" toddler, the one every non-parent sees in the mall and rolls their eyes at...a frazzled parent leading a seemingly-boneless, screaming/whining/yelling/crying toddler who may or may not be kicking as well. Particularly if he's tired or hungry, Joshua can instantly become that child. I always thought having a child throwing a fit like that was the influence of poor parenting (and it still could well indeed be, I suppose), but now I think it might be more poor planning on the parent's part.
If I go somewhere at a time when he is both well-fed and well-rested, stick to what it is I needed to get in the first place, and keep browsing to a minimum, it usually goes pretty well. (A snack during the trip is usually a good idea too.) If not, well then it's only good luck if we get out of the store/event without some sort of meltdown or trauma. I'd like to think that since putting this revelation if writing I'll be a reformed shopper, always sticking to the list and only taking kids at good times, but in reality, that will probably never happen, but hey, it's a good goal.
Mostly, though I'd like to be able to look past the challenging moments where I want to pull my hair out or declare that he may not eat chicken nuggets for every meal (he doesn't, but it seems like it at times) and simply cherish the moment of right now. It seems all too often my focus (and my standard response to requests) is "later." In reality, I don't think we get a "later" with our kids. Miss the moment and it might be gone for good, they change so fast! So, I'd like to be able to stop and just be with my kids: enjoy the wonder of seeing a really cool truck outside, or dancing to the current favorite cartoon character, just snuggling together reading a book, or going for a walk. Oh, I'll still try to maintain a semblance of organization to my house keep up with my other responsibilities, but I'd like to more fully embrace the fact that I'm a mommy first and foremost at this stage of my life and not worry as much about everything else. Because really, it all melts away when your baby smiles at you or your toddler says "I love you mommy" with a big bear hug and those are experiences I get everyday!


suz said...

Hang in there dear. You are a wonderful mother to both of your precious charges -- much more aware of how to love your children than I was when mine were young. It's great to see your thoughts about it ... but do know that I admire what I see from both you and james!


kristin said...

A friend of mine read that it's not the 2's or 3's or any age that is terrible but rather the half year between one age and the next. It's like there is a 6 month reprieve between birthdays and a 6 month span when lots of growing, maturing, and testing come. Obviously, I haven't tested the theory in my own kids, but I do see a pattern at school. I'll have to keep your insights in mind when we have our own bundles of joy.