When your child is going through the toddler years, your life seems to be only about sippy cups, diapers, chasing-the-kid-with-a-spoon, sleep deprivation and, of course, tantrums. Tell a mother that it gets better and she’ll give you this sure-that’s-great-to-know look. It helps little at that moment. But then, nothing can. It’s a rite of passage and every parent must pass through it.
Needless to say, there are many such rites that a parent must go through, with nerves of steel. Because after terrible twos, come the threes and fours, when the child realizes that asserting a will is a great option, and the preferred form of protest remains taking to the floor, flailing limbs et all. The period after this is probably the best part before the pre-pre-teens hit, at about eight. It’s all pretty downhill from there, till your kid is in her mid-twenties. Of course, she’ll totally get you by the time she’s thirty and by forty she’ll have turned into you. If you’re alive by then, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your efforts were not in vain. Not sure if this makes you feel better.
Back to the toddler stage. Like I said, it passes. I had three kids under four at one time. It was fun, to put it mildly. I don’t remember being clear-headed during those years and used to actually squint to understand when an adult addressed me. I think my mental abilities shrank to match that of a goldfish. But it passed. I never thought I’d say these words, because when you’re in it, your life is always in a spin and any other existence seems like a distant dream that would never be realized.
My kids are not that grown up yet, but I can finally breathe. I feel like I have been under water for a while and just come up for air and realized that there is a world beyond children – a thinking, adult world where conversations do not mean talking about maid woes and what your kid ate, or didn’t, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s refreshing to be here, in this space, I mean. I never want to go back into that cave again. Sure it was nice, but I’ll move ahead with glee.
So what I want to say to mother of toddlers is really no different from all what my well-meaning friends said to me when I wanted to tear my hair out (and theirs for telling me it gets better while driving to work) – that you need to keep your sanity and put one foot in front of another. Each year it gets better (before it gets worse again – but that’s so far into the future that you needn’t worry, yet).
Speak to women around you, write if it helps you. Corny as it sounds, connect with other women – it helps. If possible, go out without your kids, because you need it. I can’t tell you how much you need a night out with the girls. Actually, you probably know that. So pick a Friday, leave the kids with the father and hit the town – whatever that means for you. You won’t fit into anything in your wardrobe, but that’s ok. Wear something black (best you can do right now).
I wrote this because a friend called me this morning, feeling overwhelmed and tired. I told her all of this, and meant it. This is for all those mommies out there who are struggling with toddlers and looking wistfully at others with grown kids.