Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Toddlers are Awful, Part MMXVII

So...not to contrast too much with my happy sunny posts lately, but...oh my God, toddlers can be so awful!

I understand when they throw fits over things that make sense, like being denied something, or having to go to bed or take a bath, etc...but it's the endless meltdowns over nothing that drive me utterly insane. This morning B just lost it while I was making breakfast, for no reason. Nothing out of the ordinary. Perfectly pleasant morning before then, getting dressed and playing with the baby on the bed. So why the hysterical crying, pushing me, throwing things, yelling no? Why? I just lost it. After listening to this for probably half an hour and trying everything to distract him, including just ignoring it, and after his freaking out further when I tried to help him get settled on his chair which he couldn't possibly pull out by himself, I took him by his shoulders and tossed him on his bed, shutting the bedroom door behind him. Judge all you want. It was what I had to do in that moment.

As I sat at the table utterly defeated and guilty, my heart broke as I looked over at his cute little breakfast - cut up buttered toast and milk in a sippy cup and scrambled eggs with his little spoon. Why do kids' things always radiate this air of joy and innocence, yet life with kids is so often situations like this - ugliness and anger and crying? 

I hate the rage he inspires in me - it scares me, and I wish I had more control over it. I still think I have a pretty long fuse, believe it or not, but man oh man. I simply cannot stand these inexplicable endless tantrums. Cannot stand them. Thank god I at least have a room to put him in so we can both calm down - for the record when I let him out he marched right over to the table, climbed up on the chair I had pulled out for him, and obediently ate his breakfast. And the rest of the day he was nothing but delightful. So...what the fuck?

It makes me wonder if living with a toddler is anything like living with a mentally ill person. Always being on eggshells wondering what the person is going to be like that day, dealing with their inability to communicate, dealing with their loose grip on reality, dealing with the power struggles, having given up so many things that give you pleasure because you love this person and want to care for them, but some days it just hardly seems worth it. Sometimes I wonder if all parents of small children just walk around shell shocked, wondering what happened to their sweet, compliant little baby, and wondering when it's going to get better again, because right now, it's pretty horrible.

A friend of mine with a two year old recently admitted that since she stopped drinking wine in the evenings she mostly just wants to kill herself. She was half kidding, but the pain was real. Her son is a real handful - the kind of scene I described from this morning which is a rarity around here she says happens to her all day, every day. That he's pretty much never not throwing a tantrum. What would I do if I had a kid like that? What if Theo is like that? I think I would take up drinking wine - or kill myself - or both!

I swear if there was a therapist who specialized in traumatized parents of toddlers, I'd sign up for that in a heartbeat, cost be damned. I feel like I need to talk to someone about how compromised I feel, how much I need some time to myself, how I spend every day counting the minutes until it's his bed time. How much better of a parent I'd be if it wasn't my job 24/7 and if I ever got a frigging break. 

I think this has all ramped up lately because now even the time I usually reserve for myself - B's 6 pm bedtime until my bedtime - is no longer mine, as I juggle a fussy, endlessly breast feeding baby with making myself dinner, straightening up the house, and (god forbid) actually getting some work done. Since the baby is in the carrier or car and sleeps all day, he then takes the evening/overnight to be fussy and eat. I don't know how to fix this, since the alternative - fussy, hungry baby during the day when I have to entertain B - is not feasible. It does all leave me pretty damned exhausted. 

I can't wait until this first six weeks of T's life is up and I can get back to some of my child-free activities, once I'm ok with leaving him with a sitter. Singing gigs, movies, book club, dinners out - these are the things that I need to feel human again. Also, a smile from the little lad wouldn't hurt. 

I honestly don't know how we all survived toddlerhood, since I'm sure we were all in our own unique way, awful. Our parents must have been saints.


  1. I once read that doctors mapped the brain activity in a toddler and a schizophrenic and they are very similar. For some reason that makes me feel better when Elsie goes off the deep end becasue at least I can hope she;ll grow out of it. :)

    I have also put Elsie in her room during her episodes. And I know she doesn't know how to work the door knob and I haven't been trying to teach her. It has saved both of us several times!!

  2. I really identify with the rage you speak of. It guts me after the fact but sometimes I just become so very angry with Elena's antics. I hate that I get that angry. I walk away, put myself in another room because I'm afraid to touch her when I'm that angry.

  3. Oh yes, the frustration is absolutely palpable when they do that ridiculous tantruming, especially when it's for no good reason! I hear you, and I feel for you. I'm in the same boat with J, although I don't have a newborn. Maybe you could have a sitter spend some time with B and you'd only have the baby to take care of? Even just occasionally for a few hours?

  4. What you mentioned about NEVER getting a break- 24-7 for days, weeks, years even. This thought makes me sooo envy all my friends with good husbands. I'll have the kids out on a Saturday morning and bump into a friend who has just gone for a run in the hills and is stopping to get a latte before heading home. Damnit all I would kill for that pleasure on a regular basis...

  5. No judging here! you do your best and you do what you have to do to survive.

    But why do you have to wait 6 weeks to leave Theo? Sounds like you need it now!

    Be kind to yourself. You are all doing your best, Mama included.

  6. Oh I SO feel you on this one. I have definitely put Felix in his room behind a gate or in his pack n play when I just couldn't handle his incessant whining.

    Most mornings, he throws a fit at my feet in the kitchen because I can't hold him while I feed our pets, make our breakfasts, pack our lunches, make coffee. So if I hear him wake up before I go downstairs, I often ignore him so I can have 15 minutes to myself.

    We are all better off when we get the breaks we need.

  7. I was listening to "this American life" last week... the one called 'Bad Baby'. Look it up... it's a good one. (But start at Act 2... the first act is disturbing). In part 2 the interviewee says:

    "The most evil person in the world is a two year old who never managed to get control of his impulses. There's some studies that suggest the peak of human violence is at age 2. That families survive the terrible 2's because toddlers aren't strong enough to kill with their hands."

    No kid of my own (yet) but I have seen your pain in other Mom's... hang on in there!

    1. Oh yes, I've been listening to it all week-!

  8. We are just starting this phase and I am so not looking forward to it. Thank you for the awesome post, I'm always impressed with your ability to convey your thoughts onto paper and even more so now that you are sleep deprived w/your new lil guy.

  9. Thank god there are other mothers willing to tell the truth, no judgement here. I felt this way this morning after the 4 millionth tantrum about breakfast. Everyday there is a different issue but the one that's the same is that I do nothing right. I know that's not really the case, and they are just being kids but oh lord some days I want to go hide in the garage. Hang in there, I think you are doing great, but we all have a breaking point.