Sometimes I genuinely wonder if I’m going to survive being a parent.
It’s reminiscent of the time that we bought a 6 drawered Ikea dresser and started to put it together casually on a Saturday afternoon. Eight hours later we were all crying in a pile of screws and instructions with not a single word written on them. Things were said, feelings were hurt, screws were lost. It was a dark time.
My almost three year old is…going through something?
Question mark because I have absolutely no idea.
Up until a few weeks ago she was a chill, happy, no frills kind of gal. The 2’s? Basically a non-issue.
Now she constantly talks in a baby voice, whines “noooo” at absolutely everything, refuses to follow instructions, grunts and pretends she can’t talk, rolls around on the ground, doesn’t want to eat, doesn’t want to nap, just flat out “doesn’t”.
Here are some running theories I have come up with as to what the culprit is:
- She needs more sleep
- She needs to drop her nap
- She needs more attention
- She needs less attention when she gives me a hard time
- She’s been watching too much TV
- She’s bored
- She’s overstimulated
- She’s testing us
- She’s not testing us, this is all normal
- It’s because she’s almost 3
- It’s because she got a new sibling 7 months ago
- It’s because of that one time a few weeks ago when I yelled at her really loudly
- It’s because of absolutely nothing
So, now that I have narrowed it down, it should get easier to figure out what to do.
You’d think that with this being my second child, I would have a little storage box of tips and tricks from my first child, tucked up a shelf in my brain, ready to be dusted off and used.
Instead of that, what I have found on that dusty shelf in my brain is a wildly disconcerting amount of amnesia as to:
1. If this happened with my last kid
2. What I did about it
3. If what I did worked.
I think that might be because you never really know for certain.
I can remember that Seb from the age of 8 months old-2 years old woke up at 5am every day. We tried everything- longer naps, shorter naps, less liquids after dinner, a pre-bed snack, earlier bedtime, later bedtime, black out curtains to the point of blindness- nothing worked consistently. I still don’t know what it was, and I certainly don’t know what fixed it (now he MAYBE sleeps in until 6:15 *GASP*).
What I DO know is that parenting often looks like trying different things, weighing what the experts say, and polling the audience. And most importantly, taking a leaf out of Elsa’s book and learning to let it go.
Even if I didn’t have selective amnesia and the inability to be able to narrow down which of the solutions we tried was the right one- a very real problem is that when you have multiple children, they have the audacity to be different from one another. They require different forms of affection, reminders, independence, hand holding, which renders their poor parents completely turned around as we try to figure out these little people who have absolutely no idea who they themselves are yet.
So basically the reality is that I may never know what’s going on with my middle child (add that to the reasons she might be acting out, birth order). It might be over later this week when she finally gets over this lingering cough, or we might be looking at a year of this.
The difference between the parent I was 5 years ago and the parent I am today is that I know that my primary job is to keep loving her and doing the best I can, one day at a time. My job is to take deep breaths and to put on a crown and play pretend with her. To go out with my friends for a night off. To put in my AirPods to listen to a parenting podcast here and there. Mostly, though, my job is to trust. This won’t last forever. We will get through this. Like the dresser from Ikea, sometime in the far, distant future, this will be behind us and we will wipe our tears and move on.