One of my girlfriends just posted on FB that her just-turned-two-year-old daughter, whom she calls The Nugget, is crying over everything these days. I cackled aloud to myself and could not comment fast enough.
Her Nugget and my Kenzie were born within hours of each other two years ago. We were in labor at the same time and while the girls have different birth dates, the difference is only a matter of hours. The uncanny similarities continue because seriously, K is crying over everything these days. Ev. Uh. Ree. Thing. Some days feel like a never ending loop of the iconic “LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!” video that circulated the internet several years ago.
#ReasonsMyToddlerIsCrying is a hashtag that has been circulating social media at least since Cam became a toddler three years ago and I’m quite certain it was around long before that Check out some of the posts over on Twitter.
So, this is what the rundown of #ReasonsMyToddlerIsCrying looks like in our world right now:
- Because I asked her not to play with the blinds.
- Because she wanted to take her jacket off.
- Because her jacket was all of a sudden off and she wanted it back on.
- Because her jacket was on.
- Because Daddy had to take the markers away (after she colored on the couch).
- Because I wanted to take her picture.
“NONONONONONONONO! NO TEEKEE PICTURE!!!!”
- Because I didn’t take her picture.
- Because Daddy wouldn’t let her frolic freely in the street.
- Because she was done with her milk.
- Because I took the milk cup.
You get the picture. Ev. Uh. Ree. Thing.
It’s intense to try to parent that. Nap time came 45 minutes early today just because we couldn’t hear each other talk over all of the crying- and bless his heart, we have an entire other child we are trying to parent amid all of the crying.
But here is the thing: As hard as it is to parent the sporadic geyser of emotion that is my newly minted two-year-old, it has GOT to be more difficult to BE the newly-minted two-year-old.
Because near as I can figure, here are the REAL #ReasonsMyToddlerIsCrying:
- Because her body can now do all kinds of new things and it’s overwhelming.
- Because her brain can now process all kinds of new things and it’s overwhelming.
- Because now she has feelings that Mommy can’t fix by nursing or changing her diaper and it’s overwhelming.
- Because even though she can now do #allthethings, it turns out there are certain things that she should not do and it’s overwhelming.
- Because being told that she can’t do things gives her ALL OF THE FEELINGS and it’s overwhelming.
- Because some of the things she tries to do make Mommy and Daddy act angry or scared and that’s overwhelming.
- Because AGAIN WITH ALL THE FEELINGS!!! What are these things? AND WHY CANT YOU JUST FIX IT LIKE YOU COULD WHEN I WAS A BABY, MOM!!?!? #overwhelming
Basically, the #1 reason my toddler is crying is because it is really overwhelming to be a toddler.
All of a sudden you can do new things, feel new things, you are not equipped with coping skills yet, and it’s pretty darned intense. I would assert that #toddlering is even harder than #adulting- and we all know how hard #adulting is.
The magnitude of the grip toddlerhood has on my kids has been driven home for me these past few weeks as Mister Cameron has neared the to 4 1/2 mark (his half birthday is in a week). As I have watched him begin to emerge from the developmental sh*tstorm of toddler/preschoolhood, I have seen his happiness go up and his time spent in crisis go waaaaaay down. He is able to make more sense of the world and of his feelings, he has a better grip on how to process things- of course it’s not fully formed yet, is it ever really? How many adults have complete working understandings of their emotions and how to flawlessly process all of them? I can name at least one who doesn’t and her name is me. But the impact that even a small modicum of emotional intelligence and developmental maturity has had on his happiness is astounding.
So I feel like right now, my job is just to dig deep, pour another glass of wine, and just sit with my daughter in her two-ness. And also to remember that
“Because I am failing as a mom” is NOT on the list of #reasonsmytoddleriscrying
Being a toddler is just plain hard and there’s no way I can take that away. As a matter of fact, the things she REALLY needs from me right now will probably result in MORE tears instead of fewer in the short term. She needs me to teach her how the world works, set boundaries, keep her away from unsafe things no matter how fun they may seem to her, give gentle consequences, help her understand authority.
But she also needs me to do all of that with a large portion of tenderness, patience, and just plain PRESENCE with her as she processes. She needs me to sit with her as she cries, name emotions, explain it all for the eleventy billionth time, help her find appropriate and healthy ways to gain the control over her own life that she both needs and deserves. I have read in books and blogs that it goes A LONG WAY for kids to hear us say that we see them and we hear what they are saying and that has been true for both of our kids.
“Kenzie, I see that you’re upset because you wanted to play with the scissors. It’s ok to be mad that mommy took it away, but I had do it to keep you safe. Let’s find something else to play with.”
And I’m not saying I #nailit all the time with this. The fact being a toddler is harder than parenting one does not negate how hard the parenting is. A full marathon is harder than a half, but a half is still REALLY, REALLY difficult. This is my second kid and I feel like I’m only a couple steps ahead of where I was at the first. But I’m committed to trying, are you? Here, girl, let me open another bottle of wine. And let’s start another comment feed about #reasonsmytoddleriscrying because we NEED the laughter and the knowledge that we are not in this alone.
PS She just walked in and is now crying because the sandal she took off is now off of her feet. Wine me. <3