After a three-hour-plus nap, I woke her. Then it was snack, drink, and toddler terribleness: the uncontrollable crying, the disobedience, the asking to be put into jammies at four o'clock. And, lately, there's something about the thirty minutes or so before dinner that makes Lily absolutely lose it. We're all struggling to keep up.
Today we went round and round about her hitting the dog. I kept trying to remind myself to be gentle with her, but continually correcting the same behavior over and over takes it toll. Recently I read an essay by a woman about embracing who we are as mothers. We are not the women we used to be, and the need to find ourselves outside of our relationships with our husbands or children is futile because they reflect who we are now; they are who we are.
Who I am now is so different than I was two years ago before I was a mother and incomprehensibly different than six years ago before I was a wife. Our move back "home" has only exasperated that point. I am not who I was when I left. When I left I was a grad student who fell in love; I was a writer with no plan. Now I am so much more, and I am so much more because of Adam and because of Lily. Who knew that I would change so much?
Still, being the mother of a toddler is taxing. I went back to look up this passage from The Baby Whisperer for Toddlers (which I read so long ago, I'm not sure I remember much). It's an email from a mom to the baby whisperer:
One way that we were able to deal with the "terrible two's," as they have so ineptly been labeled, is to call them "the terrific two's." I thought of my son as having PMS round the clock for a year and was able to identify with his tantrums, meltdowns, and "poor" behavior. I thought of myself during PMS and how helpless I feel, how hormonal I am, and how my emotions are up one minute and down the next. Just think, being two years old and having no idea why you feel the way you do and all these people getting mad or frustrated with you and you can't explain how you feel or what you really want because you have no stinking idea how to feel better! I'm 32 and know what I'm going through, and still feel as though I can't handle it. I cannot even begin to imagine how a toddler feels. So we would just pray and love our son through it all. We had given him a lot of nurturing beforehand and so to love him through the frustrations, to redirect him when he was in danger, to reason with him as best we could, and to support each other through it all was just another simple progression.In the moment, it is difficult to keep this in mind, but now is the time for loving and training and correcting. Even though the end of the day may leave me wanting to throw my hands up in the air, it also leaves me with a little hand placed in mine as we watch another episode of Sesame Street and work our way toward bedtime. As hard as it can get, it can get just as sweet. That is a very good thing.