Thursday, September 16, 2010

the intensity of life with a toddler

It's hard to tell how much of this is D's age/stage of development and how much of it is my own emotional state in being pregnant, but it feels like life is just so intense right now.  Both the highs and the lows.  D will do things that are so incredibly wonderful, that make me so proud and so grateful to know him.  I love hearing him talk about things that happened a few days, weeks months ago and reminisce about them with me. I love the way his arms curl around my neck to hug me perfectly, the way he holds me tight and says, "Mommy you need to stay with me," when I try to leave his bed at bedtime.  I love the way he's started furrowing his brow when stating something he's not sure about.  He is this amazing, wonderful, intelligent person, and several times a day I'll just look at him and fall in love with him all over again.

And then with one 10-minute long screaming tantrum, followed by the silent treatment as he completely ignores my requests or questions, he can send me into this place of feeling so helpless and powerless.  It can all turn in a matter of minutes.  He has such a power over my emotions, and it is frightening.  I see how he can switch back from happy to sad so easily, going from genuine sorrow with tears streaming down his cheeks and then 5 minutes later be happy and smiling, and I feel jealous because that transition back to happiness takes me so much longer to achieve.  I hate how most of a day can go fine, even great, and then one bad encounter can just ruin it all.

Most of the time when he blows up I'm able to keep calm.  I can take the yelling, remember the "tricks" I've read about to help diffuse his emotions, and get us both past it.  But then there are moments when I guess I don't have enough patience and energy reserves left, and it all goes to shit.

I guess the silver lining is that D does seem to be so resilient, and he does bounce back quickly even after Mommy loses it, and I'll just hope those moments are overshadowed in his mind and memories by our more positive interactions.


  1. I rarely comment on the blogs of people I don't know but I HAD to respond to this post. First, let me say that I just recently, like within the last week stumbled upon your blog. The chain of events are as follows: I gave birth to twin boys, it was super difficult with all 3 at home with me, I felt guilty, My 2 yr. old daughter began attending a montessori school, I felt more guilt, she struggled with all this change and continues to somewhat struggle, I was searching for solutions, I became really interested in the montessori method, I've been researching it like crazy, I saw the Sew Liberated post on Ohdeedoh about her son's prepared environment, her blog led me to your blog (through your breastfeeding post, I loved it and wrote about on my blog as well), your blog led me to and I have been inspired ever since. Just this week I set up a prepared environment area in my house and then primed the rest of my house as well. It is a work in progress but all of your ideas/information on your blog and the blog has been SO helpful. I just wanted to tell you that in these times that you feel out of control, frustrated, guilty, realize that you have a lot of useful tools in your brain for dealing with it all, tools that have been amazingly helpful to others, namely me. And I can relate to EVERYTHING you just wrote, everything. You are not alone and thank YOU for all of your help. :)

  2. What an honest post...and one I completely relate to. With a 2- and a 4-year-old, we have a range of emotions at any given minute...and unfortunately they are sometimes my own emotions. I actually just wrote about that same thing at this week.

    I was really struck by your line: "I see how he can switch back from happy to sad so easily, going from genuine sorrow with tears streaming down his cheeks and then 5 minutes later be happy and smiling, and I feel jealous because that transition back to happiness takes me so much longer to achieve." I have too often found myself holding a grudge for some blow up or defiance, only to realize the little one has gotten over it and I should too. I suppose I have a lot to learn from them.

  3. So honest, real, and lovingly put.
    I've been a child and family therapist all my life, parented, step-parented and adopted, and it's still a struggle to remain centered when one of my kids is caught in the pangs of sadness, frustration, anger, guilt, or anxiety. It's too easy to take on their emotion or be impacted by their mood, which is good for neither them nor me. I didn't used to get it, and it's taken a lot of effort to catch myself, and realize I can empathize without being pulled down by their mood, (as well as remember all is not a reflection on me/my parenting...) It is very helpful to kids who get dysregulated, or even just sad/mad, to have parents/adults who don't go there with them yet stay connected. You do a beautiful job, pregnant and all.

  4. Seana, I never really thought about creating a prepared environment for my 2 year old at home....but that's an intriguing idea...I set up a little table with shelves for her to keep some of her playthings on in the living room, so that she has her own place in the family area, and she actually keeps her things there are likes to sit there and play for periods at a time.

    It's so fun to watch her/listen to her play independently. She does the funniest, cutest things while playing. But I'm right there with you, Marcy. Abbey, like your D, can go from totally happy go lucky to screaming and crying in an instant...and now, staying home with her all the time, it's even harder than when she went to nursery school in the AMs, because it's JUST ME and her (and sometimes friends at the park).

    Hm....I'll have to call my mom (a Montessorian) and ask her some more about creating a prepared environment for her in the house. She would really like that I think.

  5. THANK YOU so much, everyone, for your comments. Reading them helps so much. Seriously, heart warming. =)

  6. You also have to remind yourself that Donovan has a 2.5 year old brain. It's not fully developed. It's not laden with all of the emotional knowledge that yours is, or history. So OF COURSE he can just "get over" things. He's not yet at the stage to cerebrally "dwell" in the way a mature brain can! On the other hand, it is a good life-teaching-moment to be able to see that perhaps you could dwell less.

  7. So cute..thank for sharing such wonderful post..i like your blog..keep posting.



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