I had a chat with another mother which is not remarkable in and of itself but apparently our conversation was. At the end of the conversation we were discussing how other parents we had been around did not talk about these types of things. How sometimes they left you with this feeling of guilt and frustration, a feeling of being the lesser parent.
So what was our conversation about? The days of our lives. The toddler days.
Toddler days are filled with wonder and agony. Now this may be fairly dramatic but it seems like that is what a toddler day is: chaos, enjoyment, laughing, and tears (sometimes from both mother and child). We discussed how you are told how things are “supposed” to work and how you are “supposed” to feel and act. We especially got a chuckle out of the whole “take a break” rule; how a mom should “take a break” during an especially difficult toddler moment to think through options and get herself under control. However, the exact difficulty is caused because she can’t possibly take a moment for herself because her toddler is in some sort of screaming crisis. A “break” is exactly what is wanted/needed and a break is exactly what we aren’t going to get.
Speaking of breaking, that was another topic of conversation. The breaking point. We all have it. We’ve all crashed headlong into it at some point. Unless, of course you, are one of the Stepford parents or you have reached some sort of higher level than the rest of us my-blood-pressure-is-climbing-with-every-scream parents. The breaking point comes when one last thing is added to your plate of to-dos or one last scream is uttered or…or… There is a moment, a moment you aren’t proud of, words you aren’t proud of, thoughts you aren’t proud of, actions you aren’t proud of, and then come the tears, tears of guilt and/or shame the horrible thought that maybe you aren’t even fit to be a parent.
I am so thankful to my parents for informing me, with a smile, that these would be some of the most difficult years of my life. My parents always laugh when people say “wait until they are teenagers.” You can reason with a teenager they say, or at least talk. There are lines of communication available to you that are impossible with a toddler; plus you have had years of practice by the teenage point.
Now I am sure it is different for everyone but as far as my parents are concerned, they give me a big hug, an encouraging word, or remind me that this is hard, very hard, and for some reason that makes all the difference. Just to know that parenting isn’t easy, that I am doing it anyway, and that today this is the way it is. But, there are lots of tomorrows that will be different. Just because it is difficult doesn’t mean I should wish it away because this is the refining fire of parenthood and these are the days of our lives.
Jasmine is a co-housing, home birthing, missions minded, community living mama with a passion for fierce writing. She blogs.
Picture from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/frenchy/4536426458/