Sep
25

Battlefront

By

I won’t mince words: two is hard. Well, it’s hard for me anyway. I love my Muffin with all my heart. She is willful and independent and smart, and I am quite sure those things will serve her well… in the future. But now she is two.  Everything is a battle. Every. Single. Thing. Change a diaper? Battle. Put on shoes? Battle. Brush hair? Battle. Eat something other than ice cream? Battle. Take a bath? Battle. Go to sleep? BATTLE.

I don’t know how to write this post without sounding like my daughter is a complete and total brat or that I’m worst mother in the whole world who does not know thing one about being a parent. And, I should add, one of my greatest fears is that I will raise a complete and total brat, and these days it totally feels like I’m headed in that direction.

Last night, my daughter started having one of her fits for no real known reason. My husband and I were at my in-laws in the upstairs bedroom trying to calm her down. We tried talking to her in our most calm voices. I got down on her level and looked in her in the eyes to ask her what was wrong. “Honey, can you tell Mommy why you’re crying? What is it you want? Use your words.” No response. Just more screaming.

We tried empathy. We tried holding her. We eventually gave up and ignored her.  Eventually, she stopped screaming long enough to tell us that she wanted to go downstairs. But then her dad opened the door and the fit started all over again because apparently Mommy was supposed to be the one to open the door.

Two is hard.

Two is a battle.

And battle is such an apt word for it because it doesn’t necessarily involve only the fighting. It runs the whole gamut of battle related words:  anticipation, preparation, strategy, tactical maneuvers, and yes, sometimes even just brute force (like pinning down flailing limbs long enough to clean the poop and change a diaper).

I’m learning that what makes this battle especially difficult is that the enemy is oh so clever in its use of a decoy—a toddler.  At first blush, the challenges appear to be a battle between adult and toddler. And, okay, sometimes it is. But more often than not, it’s a battle between Good Parent and Bad Parent, because they’re both in all of us with kids. Bad isn’t overtly bad or intentionally bad; quite the opposite. Bad Parent can be the tired, impatient parent, the well-intentioned but ill-informed parent—the all too human parent.

My Good Parent arsenal is low these days. Some days I don’t have the patience or the time for the cajoling or the distracting or the bribing or the waiting until she’s ready, or even a new idea of what strategy to try. Some days I just need her to get in the damn car seat now.  Some days I just want her to eat something healthy without the promise of an ice pop. When I’m short on patience, Bad Parent wins. From the amount of tantrums my daughter is throwing these days, I’d say Bad Parent is winning far too often.

I need to do better.  Parenting by intuition and common sense and love (lots and lots of love!) is not enough. When my daughter was a baby, I read up on things, I talked to my mom friends, and I sought advice. These days, I’ve gotten distracted. I’ve gotten lazy. I know an important part of parenting, especially for toddlers, is routine and structure, which, quite admittedly, is missing from our lives these days.  I had (and still have) tons of excuses for that lack of structure.

We moved across country and are living in one room in my mom’s house. I kept thinking when we find jobs and get a place of our own we can establish our routines and find our rhythm, and Good Parent can come back strong. But it’s been four and a half months now, and still no jobs. Now, with my dad’s passing, the timeline is altered further.

My mindset has to change. I’ve done with good parenting what I’ve done with everything else in my life—put it on hold while hoping and waiting for my situation to change…

My friend sent me a podcast of Joel Osteen’s sermon “Bloom Where You’re Planted.”  In it, he speaks of how people are always waiting and hoping for their situations to change. Osteen submits that God isn’t so much interested in changing our circumstances as He is in changing us in our circumstances. We need to concentrate on what he refers to as blooming where we’re planted—being the best we can be no matter the situation. When we bloom where we’re planted, God will open doors, and the rest will follow.

(Of course I’m not doing the sermon justice. It was quite inspiring for me and worth seeking out.)

I had known that I was guilty of such things as blaming my circumstances for not following through with dreams and goals of mine. You know, the “As soon as…THEN I’ll…” kind of mentality. But now I am guilty of doing the same thing with being the kind of parent I really want to be. No, my situation is not ideal, and there are obstacles that make parenting more challenging than I ‘d like. It won’t be perfect. It will never be perfect. But it can be—I can be—better.

So this is my vow to do better at blooming where I’m planted. My daughter can’t wait until I have a great job and the great house for me to become a great mom. She needs me now.

Because two is hard.

Comments

  1. Lisa Kelly says:

    Very honest and heartfelt… good for you!

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  2. Pam says:

    I am afraid to tell you this… but 10 and 15 are harder. And the battlefield less level. But always worth it…. Hang in there! (At least you can still hold her down!)

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  3. Irene Landon says:

    I can’t recall any of my friends, when we were raising kids, saying how easy it was…or how wonderful two year old children are. The only things that they are, are: cute, entertaining…and yours! But I do remember that I had to be the “bad” parent, because dad was always the “good guy”. I never liked it, but in your case, you have both of you who want to be the “good guy”. Won’t work. There has to be an equalizer. And right now, that little diouala (as they say in Italian), is hanging on my back, trying to keep me from putting her to bed at this time of 10:00. And as we know, Nonnie, is no bad guy.

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  4. Janet Horn (cousin) says:

    Hi Kelly, Yes, two is hard, but wait until she turns 12, and then 20 (as my daughter, Christie)…..there are still battles… some are more serious than others, but sometimes you will think she’s two all over again!

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  5. Helene says:

    There are other stages of your children’s life that are at least as hard as two but that should not be addressed now. Now. She. Is. Two. Your words are reminiscent of about 2-3 months ago with James. Funny thing, James is 2-3 months older than Charlie. Imagine THAT. Anyway, his mother AND his MiMi lived through every single thing you described… the shoes, the diaper, the WHATEVER. Time helped us get through it (and no, it’s not completely gone yet!) but a book helped Melissa out TREMENDOUSLY. I know you probably have a litany of books to choose from or recommendations from other moms. I can only offer what I know for sure (do I sound like Oprah????!!!!!) The STRONG WILLED CHILD (it is easily obtained from Amazon.com) gave Melissa an entirely new set of things to try and THEY WORK. He is a different boy, life is totally different since she started to do these simple things. Not everyday. Some days, every sentence still starts with “I do not want…..” or “Do not tell me…..” but they are less and less frequent. Hang in there, Kell, you ARE a good parent!!! I don’t even have to be there to know this.
    xoxoxoxox

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