I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year analyzing Charlotte’s behavior and wondering if it’s normal. It’s no secret she and I have both struggled with age three. I was never one to say “My kid will never…” about most things, but I guess subconsciously, I did indeed think, “My kid will never…” For example, my kid was never going take until almost 4 to be potty trained. My kid was never going to look me in the eye, laugh, and continue doing the very thing I told her forcefully not to do. My kid was never going to constantly interrupt me while I talked to another adult. My kid was never going to shove her baby brother to the ground because he took her toy. And on and on.
And there’s my side of it too. I was never going to completely lose my shit on my kid. I was never going to give in to an argument just for the sake of peace and quiet. And I certainly was never going to admit that a lot of time, the day to day, minute to minute aspects of parenting just totally suck.
Never say never, friends.
And while I analyze the normalcy of Charlotte’s behavior, I also analyze my thoughts and attitudes about parenting. Is something wrong with me that I am not particularly enjoying my children these days? That a lot of my parenting feels forced? That no matter how hard I try, at the end of the day most of what I remember are the messes, failures, conflict and tears?
I’m almost certain that most people would say there’s nothing wrong with me or my kids. That this is just a really hard stage for both of us and somehow, we’ll survive, and most likely, things will get easier. Charlotte will eventually learn to regulate her emotions and Nolan won’t always be intent on destroying everything in his path with no regard for his personal safety.
I try to laugh and find humor in the hard parts, but I think sometimes that’s just a cover up for how hard it really is. I literally cannot keep up with the mess, and that makes me feel like a total failure. So to cope, I take a picture of my toddler surrounded my hundreds of tiny beads that he flung off the table and either text it or post it on facebook. Laughing or rolling my eyes is better than dissolving in tears and burying myself under the covers, which is what I really want to do a lot of the time.
I want to try giving myself a break. I’m going to stop beating myself up for not absolutely loving life and parenting right now. It’s hard, and it’s hard because it’s hard, not because I’m doing something wrong. And I’m so thankful for those of you who have written about this very topic in your own spaces, because it does help tremendously to know that I’m not alone, and maybe that I’m even a little bit normal.