|My sweet Punky at 4 months old|
I am finding it increasingly hard to stay calm and not lose my temper with the current behaviour that is being displayed. And the worst part about it, is that I can see my own inability to control myself being mirrored back to me in my toddler. I see the way she struggles to control her temper with her little sister.
Don't get me wrong, not every day is bad. We have some pretty awesome days, and some just good days. But the bad days? The bad days are really bad.
Sleeping has not been good either. It's either night terrors or simply just not wanting to go to sleep. It starts from the minute she goes to bed and doesn't end until morning the next day. She refuses to sleep during the day anymore, unless it's a Friday and she is exhausted after her weekly swimming lesson.
|Punky at 16 months|
Every night she is allowed time to sit in bed and read her books or draw on her magnet board for a bit before the lights go out. And every night once the light has been turned off the shenanigans begin. The constant getting out of bed. The excuses as to why she is out of bed. She needs a drink of water. She needs this toy or that. And even when she stays in bed there's the calling out every 5 minutes. "I need my covers on properly" she says as she lies there with her legs straight up in the air. And the one that's guaranteed to make me feel guilty, that always comes right after I've lost my shit, the tearful little voice saying "I need a hug."
I've come to dread the hour, sometimes longer, it takes for her to finally succumb to sleep and stop playing silly buggers. I dread this, and then go on to dread the mornings. From the moment she opens her eyes, it's a lottery as to what kind of mood she'll be in. Will she let me change her nappy or will she have a complete meltdown at the mere suggestion of it?
|At 2, earlier in the year|
I try to make sure that I am sitting down with her often through the day, just playing and hanging out and being with her. I also try to make sure she has times of independent play, because I believe that it's important for kids to be able to entertain themselves sometimes too. I scour Pinterest for new ideas and easy toddler crafts that she can do, because she is a creative soul and she loves colouring, painting, sticking and cutting. However even this can be a cause for friction when she can't do something herself, but won't allow me to assist, or when she starts throwing all of the craft supplies around in a dangerous manner, sending injury-causing missiles flying through the air.
I try to get us out of the house, even if it's just to go for a wander down the street and buy some milk. Or further afield to the park, the shopping centre, basically anywhere that is out of the house. We have fun. We hang out. We have a good time and we all enjoy each others company. The minute we walk back in the door though, its like the outing never happened, and battle-stations are resumed once more.
I try to talk to her and ask her questions about why she is upset or angry or frustrated. She either doesn't look at me or just keeps repeating the same thing over and over "I is sad Mummy", or looks at me with confusion. I'm pretty sure sometimes she doesn't even know herself why she feels the way she does.
|The most beautiful almost-3-year-old I know|
Every single day I worry that I am ruining her. I worry that I am doing the wrong thing by her. I worry and wonder if her behaviour is normal, is this the way every child her age acts and behaves or is it something more? Every day I wake up and vow to do a better job, I vow to stay calm, I vow to not let my temper get the better of me.
Every day I feel like I've failed. I am not the parent I wanted or hoped I would be. Every day I try my best and let's face it, that's all I can do. But at the same time, I also wonder and worry that I'm actually not doing my best, that maybe there is something more I should be doing. I know I shouldn't beat myself up about it, but it's hard, when it's been a tough day, to not lie in bed and wonder what I could have done to make things better. Wonder what I could have done to be a better Mum. I lie there and feel guilty for the way I've reacted to her beahviour. I vow to be more zen tomorrow. If I could just be a better, more calm and relaxed Mum, yell less and love more, then maybe she wouldn't have so many meltdowns and tantrums. Maybe she wouldn't struggle so badly in trying to deal with her overwhelming emotions. Maybe she would sleep better at night.
I wonder, if I could do better than I currently am, then maybe, just maybe, I won't completely ruin her for life.
Heaven help me when we reach puberty.
How did you cope with the toddler years? Do you think the worry about ruining our children ever goes away? Why did nobody tell me that being a parent, along with being one of the best things I've ever done, would also be one of the most confusing, emotionally draining, and confidence-crushing things I'd ever do?