Sigh. I feel like as soon as each stage of a child's development is passed, it disappears from our memories. When the next child suddenly hits that stage, it all comes flooding back.
We are entering the terrible twos.
In today's culture of making things positive and cheery, I don't think you can sugar coat this. Irrational and emotional, defiant and stubborn, tantrums and tears. I might understand at a cognitive level that it is because she lacks communication skills, is frustrated with physical limitations, and needs to learn to assert independence, but in the end, it still sucks.
Juliette is already a strong-willed child. She knows what she wants and can't handle not getting it. We listen to tantrum after tantrum after tantrum. The tears start and stop on a dime. I have noticed that things are generally better when she is outdoors, so thank goodness she is turning two as the good weather hits. But the rainy days, the nights, the mealtimes, and the times when I have to get something done are just miserable.
It's time to crack out some old favourite books about parenting strong-willed children. Even if none of the techniques work, it's usually good just to read about other children and know I'm not alone.
I read this quote the other day, and I'm clutching it with all my energy:
"Perhaps there are children who have come into the world that would challenge any set of parents under any set of circumstances. Likewise, perhaps there are others who would bless the lives of, and be a joy to, almost any mother or father." (Howard W. Hunter)
This is a good reminder that I can't measure my success as a parent necessarily by the actions and behaviours of my children.
"A successful parent is one who has loved, one who has sacrificed, and one who has cared for, taught and ministered to the needs of a child." (Howard W. Hunter)
If I am conscientiously fulfilling the work of being a mother, then I am a successful parent. If my toddler melts down in the grocery store (yep) or I'm chasing my 4 year old through the aisles (yep) or my school age child is in trouble for fighting (yep - and all of this in the last week!) I am not failing at my job, I just have challenges in my job. I have a set of circumstances that are refining me as a mother and a person and I need to draw on my patience and put on my problem-solving hat, not throw in the towel.
And if nothing else, "this too shall pass." Last week someone asked me if I was nervous or stressed about a presentation I had to do. Not really, I replied. I have come to realize that, no matter what, time marches forward. The minutes tick on, the hours roll by, and time will pass. No matter how terrible the twos are, time will not freeze indefinitely for this year. No matter how many tantrums, how many tears, how many screaming matches, the days and months will go by and "two" will pass. I know there are many older, wiser parents of grown children who warn against wishing away the stages. I'm not necessarily wishing it away, just assuring myself that there will come a day (soon) that I do not have to listen to 12 hours of my two year old screaming and crying at me.
Until then, don't mind me if my hair is torn out and my knees worn out. I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of letting out the frustration and praying to get me through.