The Trouble with Toddlerhood (in Real Time)

The Trouble with Toddlerhood (in Real Time)
The Trouble with Toddlerhood (in Real Time)

Asher, my two and a half year old, is currently upstairs in the loft. He is supposed to be napping, but this week he became an official crib escaper. He’d climbed out a couple times before, but he suddenly realized this week just how easy it is to scale those whitewashed prison walls.

I don’t really know what he’s doing up there, except that it’s loud and involves dumping out multiple buckets of small toys. Every mom’s dream.

I gotta tell ya. This week (month?) has chewed me up and spit me out in the mommin’ game. It started with a stomach bug I caught Saturday night, which was passed to each kid, then we added Asher’s newfound acrobatics and his general TODDLERNESS that has taken over, plus he is so attached to me right now I can’t be in the room without him trying to climb my appendages like a ladder.

[Here is where I took a break to put Asher back in his crib. I just sat down and already hear him walking around again. Sigh.]

Guys, I understand the whole perspective thing. My kids are healthy and thriving and my family is beautiful. I am grateful and undeserving.

But it’s still HARD to be in this season.

[He’s in the loft again. I think he’s trying to be “quiet.”]

It’s hard to reach the end of the day exhausted, looking around wondering what did I accomplish?

It’s hard to hear that this is the most important job you can do when you do not feel important.

It’s hard to lose track of the days because they are all the same: superheroes and snacks and messes and snacks and wiping butts and snacks and screaming and snacks and being embarrassed in public and no no no and fine whatever and snacks.

[He’s downstairs now. Thinks he’s slick. Pretty sure he’s going for the pantry.]

Here’s the reality: that is motherhood. That is toddlerhood. That is parenting. Deep in the whiny, muddy trenches of raising young kids it’s slimy, isolating, and often depressing. Not to mention the smell.

So what do we do?

[Caught him hiding behind a chair with a lollipop.]

Well, I am working on this. I don’t have the answer to feeling unfulfilled because most days that’s exactly what I feel.

I don’t have the answer for finding patience and peace in the middle of Target when your five-year-old has to pee and can’t find one of her shoes so you send her in the bathroom in her sock rather than let her pee on all the groceries she’s sitting next to.

I don’t have the answer for why I would ever talk myself into cooking meals that get dropped, thrown, pushed around, whined at, spit out, and thrown in the trash.

[I sent him to his sister’s bed. Here goes nothing.]

The only ammo I am finding right now mirrors the tools I learned for battling anxiety: reframing those negative, self-loathing, defeating thoughts.

It’s not going to be a good day when I wake up thinking, ugh, here we go again. How can I enjoy an outing with my kids when I’m thinking, this is not even worth it, throughout the whole process of getting out the door? How can I possibly rally at 4:30 every afternoon when I am telling myself, I’m done I’m done I’m done?

[He’s here. He’s just going to slide up on the couch and read like it’s totally normal.

I need to wrap this up before this child tries to make spaghetti or something. No wonder he’s so cute. It’s saved his life on multiple occasions.]

So here’s the deal. I’m going to TRY and shift my thinking. When I am woken up in the middle of the night to Asher’s guttural screams over nose congestion (true story), I will try to remember this moment is a blink. I’ll think about the privilege of having my son in my home, with air and heat and plenty of snacks.

I’ll remember that there are so many women who would give anything to lift up their child in the middle of the night to comfort him, to feel a heavy head rest on their shoulder, to share their pillow with a restless, sick baby who only wants his mama.

I’ll think about Addison no longer wanting to watch TV draped over my lap and instead holing up in her room alone. I’ll remember that a surprise cake pop won’t always make it the best day ever and those coffee runs will soon be done with an empty, silent backseat rather than filled with a chorus of childhood complaints.

I’ll try to see what my mother sees when she looks at me, years that ran away, a baby turned child turned woman, that strange maternal conflict of sadness-meets-satisfaction.

It is a hard, hard season. But the thing about seasons is they never last forever.

[There will be no nap today.]

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Natalie

Hi! I am so glad you stopped by. I am a writer, wife and frequently overwhelmed momma to two young kids. This site is about my own experiences with anxiety and depression and explores ways that we can work toward finding ourselves after having children.