Screaming, tantrums, defiance, whining, crying. I'm beginning to feel like my life consists of cycling through those five phases of unhappiness from our toddler. There's only so many cute, creative ways a mama can generate in one day to overcome resistance. The greatest relief and gift to me at this point in parenting would be an "OK" from my child. I would feel like I'd been to Tahiti for a week.
I've heard about those threes. "Oh, the terrible twos are nothing. Wait until three". How could I imagine this? My friends with younger children give us the same eyes that I must have given my friends. "Not my child," I imagine they're thinking. "What must they have done wrong to have her acting like that?" Sometimes I want to say, "You'll see!" but that is the most obnoxious phrase in history so I just keep silent.
I know it's developmental. I know this is a phase and my job right now is to "teach" the hell out of it. To not sweat the small stuff. To give limits and boundaries so my toddler can feel safe and like she lives in a predictable world. And heaven knows, she did not grow into a predictable life whatsoever.
But how can I help but wonder, "Am I doing this right? Did I spoil her? Did I give in too much? Are other kids like this? Should we be having another kid so she learns to get along with others? Are we too harsh with our consequences? Too easy? Too inconsistent?"
I guess I'll know in another year how she turns out. That's the adventure, isn't it? Discovering down the road how our parenting interacts with that developmental phase and spits out some combination of traits and characteristics? It's wild and unpredictable, and scary and miraculous.
Over and over I come back to something Kim Eng, spiritual teacher, told me when I was newly pregnant: "All your child needs is for you to radiate love, peace, and acceptance".
Sure. I got this.
Coming up this week: A lovely guest post from a soon-to-be mama, reflecting on pregnancy and all the conflicted emotions we experience leading up to birth.