I am standing in my house shouting “STOP. SHOUTING.” If I wasn’t so crazed with irritation I would probably be able to laugh at the irony of shouting “stop shouting” at someone.
I am covered in bruises, there’s a streak of black something smeared across my face and I’ve cried twice today.
No, I have not been through some kind of ordeal. I’ve just spent seven hours with my toddler son and been pushed to the absolute brink of my sanity. The patience well is about to dry up and if I don’t flop, face first, into a vat of wine in the next ten minutes I’m probably just going to make a run for it.
When people spend months agonising over whether or not they are baby-ready, they are really asking the wrong question. The question they should be devoting time and mental space to is “Are we ready for a toddler?” Because the toddler years are not optional. If there was a way to skip them all together, I’m sure we’d all be tempted. Sure we’d miss some fairly key milestones and the adorably bonkers things they come out with but let’s face it, compared with toddlers, babies are a goddamn picnic, while for the most part having a toddler is like living with a volatile, permanently hormonal malevolent dictator. I often feel as though The Man and I are suffering from some kind of Stockholm Syndrome as we heap praise and affection and adoration upon him to which he responds with barely concealed disdain.
Of course, when I’m not simpering and begging him for a kiss or re-making food for him because the toast had “too many crumbs”, I am completely losing my sh*t over some mild toddler boldness.
The worst part of all is that he’s a toddler, he’s got an excuse for being a demonic, lunatic. I’m supposed to be the adult here yet I’m shouting at a child and kicking doors out of frustration.
One of the biggest revelations of motherhood for me was this quite unpleasant one: I am not the Queen Of Chill as I’d once believed. I’m actually a maniac who has a really hard time controlling my temper. When I see my son absolutely losing his sh*t, all I see is a tiny, seething version of myself.
At least twice a month I google: “I think I hate my 3-year-old” which returns a wealth of results ranging from the empathetic (“everyone hates their kids sometimes”) to the enraged (“You don’t deserve your 3-year-old”) and of course in the scheme of difficult children I would say he is moderate at worst.
It seems, it is still a bit taboo to say that you don’t 100% A D O R E every molecule of your children’s being 100% of the time but there you have it, after a LOT of anecdotal research, it seems that it is perfectly normal to not love every moment of parenthood. It is perhaps not totally normal to give your toddler the finger behind his back but I’ll have to keep working on that one.
So for any newbies who’ve found themselves wondering if they are in an exorcist situation, fear not your adorable baby has probably just been replaced by an equally adorable but infinitely more conniving and vicious toddler here are the strategies for managing your own anger when you’ve been sucked into the toddler hell-vortex.
Count to ten
It works! I count to ten about 80 times a day, I am a feckin’ counting BOSS now.
Pick the battles
I aim to fight one-in-three. Yes, I know that’s a fairly lame effort, but I’m too tired for any more than that.
Identify the anger
When I’m raging at my son for being bolshy about going to play school, often there is another stressor at play. If I take a minute to look a the bigger picture, I’ll notice that I am feeling rushed or stressed because I’m late for work or a meeting and sometimes identifying that helps me to acknowledge that poor planning on my part is a bigger problem than just him being a 3-year-old.
Don’t beat yourself up
Seriously, it’s such a complete waste of time. Since motherhood has evolved into an exquisite piece of performance art thanks to social media, I feel we are all walking around assuming that everyone else is perfect at this baby-raising business. I am here to categorically state right here and now that I am crap at this. Seriously crap. My-toddler-once-ate-a-cigarette kind of crap. *Hangs head in shame* In my defense though why are they so obsessed with collecting cigarette butts? And who is the complete TOOL who stands around smoking in the playground and then drops their butts on the ground?
Open the wine
I know it’s a cliché but dammit it helps.
What’s you strategy for weathering the toddler tantrums? Tell us in the comments.