When You Think Your Toddler Is An A-Hole


Today my snack of choice is green pea crisps.  They are baked, gluten free and have enough salt to satiate me without being high in sodium.  A good choice of avoidance, I’d say.  But the bag is now empty, so my words need to start filling the page.  What I am about to say is not very nice.  I feel horrible for even thinking it.  As if guilt isn’t already part of my standard operating procedure.  But here it goes.  I don’t always like my toddler.  Yes, of course, I love him.  I’m grateful for him and can’t imagine my life without him.  But sometimes, he can be really unlikable.  Geez, Mary. Yeah, whatever.  I could have picked a much harsher word to describe this child and his unacceptable behavior, but my husband and his grandparents would no doubt frown upon such language chosen to describe their little angel.  I remember a friend of mine saying ” My kids are being such douche bags!”  I remember thinking, “Geez, that’s harsh.”  (What a judgmental singleton I was.). But now I kinda get it.   Cause sometimes it proves oh so true.

With O we have moved into a constant whine, which apparently is reserved just for mommy.  It is like nails on a chalkboard.  He has started kicking and swatting mommy followed by “Ow!” in a sassy “whatcha gonna do about it” tone.  Not to mention ramming Thomas the Tank Engine into the back of mommy’s ankles while I am at the kitchen sink.  Some days are far worse than others, obviously.  When I say “No” he says “Yes.”  When I say “Yes” he says “No.”  It’s maddening. It is non sensical.   No matter how I address the behavior (ignore, redirect, admonish) it persists.  These things are just the tip of the iceberg.  I know, I know, he is two.  He is testing me.  I take cleansing breath after cleansing breath.  It’s no wonder I don’t pass out from all the deep breathing.  I longingly look at the clock willing my husband to walk through the door.  I tell you this,  these aren’t the Terrible Twos….they are the A-Hole Years.

Trust me, I don’t feel good about saying this.  The tougher it gets,  the more I feel like I am failing.  Like there are days that I don’t know if I have the strength of character to get through.  Days where the fantasy of driving away in my car creeps it’s nasty head into my thoughts.  It is shameful.  It is humiliating and loathful.  Who thinks their child is an a-hole?  A two year old, no less.  I’m an ungrateful horrible bitch of a mother.

And then I remember three fundamental truths.  I am human.  I am doing the best I can.  And he is just a child.  I will get through the day.  God willing, I will get another shot at parenting tomorrow.  It’s all gonna be ok.  And just like Newton’s Third Law of Motion states, his unacceptable behavior will be replaced by an equally and opposing sweet, tender and loving state of being.  And just like that,  I can forget why I thought he was unlikable….until he dumps an entire jar of oregano all over the floor just because.  Or when he empties out my pantry for the umpteenth time leaving a trail of canned and dried goods from the kitchen to the living room.  I know it is him exploring and learning, which is why we let it happen, but after episode number 13 on any given day, I’d like to put a lock on the lazy susan.  But let’s be realistic, that would be met with a tantrum of tantrums and would only be a battle won, not the war.  I pick and choose my parenting battles carefully.  The word NO is important.  It’s overuse will make it meaningless.  I can’t have that.  No, the war is with myself, not my child.  It is about me finding peace and grace in the maddening mundane chaos.  I have gone white water rafting in number 5 conditions.  I have hiked mountains.  I have performed for audiences of thousands.  This, my friend, is much harder.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight, and remember, behind every great kid (who is, indeed, NOT an asshole) is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up.  Thanks for reading. Xo


Toddler Madness


There are certain days my patience runs thin.  My son is approaching his second birthday.  He is in the beginning of the throws of what I am calling toddler madness.  This might prove to be the hardest period for us, as his communication skills are still sparse.  He says words, yes.  But his ability to actually convey specific wants is unhoned, especially the more frustrated he gets.  My failure to understand him just adds to his frustration and before I know it, he is in full on the floor tantrum mode.  There is no reason or logic to this.  It is absolute madness.  Hence, my categorical name for this period we are forging into full speed ahead.

Rationally, I know there is usually some reason for these outbursts.  He most likely isn’t even aware himself what it might be.  And the speculation is vast.  It could be that he is hungry.  Thirsty.  Perhaps his two year molars are giving him a hard time that day.  Maybe his shirt is uncomfortable.  Maybe….the list goes on.  Or, where the real madness comes in, the outburst has no cause.  It is not the reaction to anything at all, except the moment hits him and he decides to throw himself on the floor, kick and scream a little, and then, perhaps, get on with his day.  Come to think of it…I feel like doing that sometimes. Maybe it’s not so crazy, after all.  Hmm.

My pediatrician suggests no parental reaction.  She always says, “Don’t encourage any behavior you don’t like by reacting to it.”    I’m actually pretty good at being calm in the midst of his storms.  Most of the time.  It’s the days when the outbursts are mixed with incessant whining, that tax me the most.  It’s hard not to react to the whining, though I give it my best shot.  At home, I actually walk into another room.  I also redirect his attention when he is calm enough.  It becomes the hardest to deal with in the car.  Both of us trapped in a small space.  I can only turn the Hamilton soundtrack up so much.

Mothers who’ve been there…mommys on the same battlefield, I ask you.   What do YOU do?  And if you had a child who never threw tantrums or whined, keep it to yourself.  I don’t even want to know that children like that exist. There isn’t enough Skinny Pop or Two Buck Chuck to get me over that.  Thanks. I know every kid is different, but there must be some common thread for how to proactively deal with this “stage of development.” My saving grace at this point is that I am, in fact, an older mom and I have a degree of patience I never would have had 20 years ago.  I’m not saying younger Moms can’t have patience.  I just know I didn’t have it when I was younger.

The most ironic thing about this stage of “toddler madness,” is how fleeting the madness can be.  I can have a morning like today, where the crabby-ness,  whining and foot stomping outbursts seemed to have such succession it almost became rhythmic.  And then 20 minutes before his nap, my child decides to lovingly stop time.  He sits next to me on the couch, lays his head on my shoulder and lets me stroke his hair.  For a whole 20 minutes! He may have actually purred.  Just when I was ready to give up for the day, he indulges me in his sweet side.  Sneaky.  Unpredictable.  All part of the glorious wonderful madness that is only just beginning.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight and remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up.  Thanks so much for reading! Xo

Bumpy Times Ahead


I watch O on the baby video monitor.  It’s past 7:30am, but on cloudy rainy days he sleeps a little longer.  He is stirring, but taking his time to wake up.  I’m enjoying my coffee. In peace.  Listening to a bird chirp outside the front window.  I am contemplating the day.  What do I introduce to him today? Will he nap long? Will it be a difficult day like yesterday? He is getting his back molars in, so the teething and drool situation is out of control and kind of throwing me.  He is all out of sorts.  Or is it just him getting older? Becoming coming more of a true toddler?  Yikes.  I’m not ready for that.

He is willful.  I’ve known this about him since before his birth. I could tell in my tummy.  And how true it turned out to be.  And it seems that so far, he is wicked smart.  What a combination.  I am glad he is willful. It will be a good trait later on.  I want him to be a strong individual.  It’s just that now….it’s going to pose some challenges for us.  Add Mommy’s flair for the dramatic and Daddy’s hot temper…..and I foresee bumpy times ahead!  But then, there is always wine to soothe the day’s events, right? Is there enough wine? (Is there EVER enough wine?).

Yesterday O was playing with this grabber thing we have in the kitchen.  He loves it. I call him King Triton when he carries it around.  He was getting frustrated because he was trying to move it in a space that was too small to move it freely in.  He started to whine and fuss.  Then growl and grunt.  I interjected with a “Calm down, O.”  He looked at me, threw the grabber down and screamed a scream I had not ever heard from him.  A primal scream followed by tears of frustration and more screaming.  He had gone from 0-60 in a matter of seconds.  He was officially melting down.  Toddler style.  I was a bit stunned, however foolish that sounds.  He hasn’t been like this.  He’s been pretty easy (for a baby.). Needless to say, nap time followed.  Yes, his being tired and teething was a factor in this outburst, but this was a force within him I had yet to experience.

He is young for this, isn’t he? Don’t they say “Terrible TWOS?” He is just 14 months old! Is this yet another stage he will hit early? Oye.  So what do we do? React? Not react? I can’t see how yelling at him would help. But coddling him after undesirable behavior doesn’t seem good either.  Up till now, we have tried to redirect his attention when he starts going into behavior we aren’t crazy about.  It used to work like a charm.  Now, not so much.

I truly thank God that I am an older Mom as I begin to navigate this part of raising our child.  I have WAY more patience than I ever would have had in my younger days.  I understand that I don’t have all the answers.  However, many of the answers are somewhere etched in my mind after watching the do’s and don’ts of the child rearing of my nieces and nephews.  I have watched my sister-in-law, Sarah, raise three children with the consistency and patience of a saint.  I often refer to my memories of watching her parent when I look for answers.  When she said “If you don’t stop that behavior, we are leaving.” She meant it.  If the behavior persisted, they were gone.  I get it.  You can’t say anything thing you aren’t prepared to make good on.  I recall, “Please and Thank You are the magic words.”  The tune she used to sing it to is stuck in my head, all ready to use on O.  I remember her making her children look her in the eye when she was reprimanding them.  It sticks more.  I found myself doing it yesterday when O kept trying to take an outlet cover off after dinner.  Well, today my sister-in-law has remarkable teenagers who are smart, funny, respectful and kind.  She is my role model for parenting.  There are more, for sure. But  I am grateful I have had a lot of time to watch others, especially her.

So what to do? I find myself taking deep breathes.  I try to understand the child.  I try not to let his frustration become mine.  I know we need to teach him what calm is despite his genetics….no easy task.  But essential.  I recall O’s pediatrician telling me, “He is your whole world.  You just don’t want him know that.”  How true, how true.  Imagine adding narcissist to the list? Not on my watch!  So yes, bumpy times ahead.  But good times, as well, I have no doubt.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight (I know I will) and remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is sure she is messing it up.  Thanks for reading! Xo