I’m SO thankful for parents who speak openly about their struggles as parents, in particular as parents of children ages 3 to 4. I wish more of us would share our horror stores of toddler parenting, so that fewer of us would feel like parental failures!

You cannot convince me there is any harder, more challenging age than this. At least, I hope you won’t even try, because I can’t bear to hear there is a harder age unless you first tell me there’s a decade of sheer bliss before it!

Age 3 has been…interesting. I read recently that between the ages of 3 and 4, a child’s vocabulary explodes from 500 words to 1200 words. That’s more than double, meaning they have a whole new vocabulary for expressing all the ways in which they’re displeased! You’d think this would mean the end of the tantrums that peak between ages 2 and 3, right?

Notsomuch. At least not for us.

The other day, Jax tantrummed because I wouldn’t let him bring a dead (crispy) worm into the house to keep as his pet. The next night, he tantrummed because I didn’t eat the ginger that came with my sushi.

Reading back on those sentences, I laugh a little at how absurd these scenarios sound. But if you have a toddler, you’re probably shaking your head and saying, “Yup, sounds about right.”

Living with a toddler is like living with an adorable but psychotic dictator. You just never know when the most trivial thing will set him off and what punishment they’ll dole out when they’re unhappy. You pray it will be quick and painless. It rarely is.

One minute, they’re playing happily on the swingset in the backyard, and then suddenly they’re charging you with their fists ready to flail, and you have no idea why. And then just as suddenly and dramatically as it began, it’s over.

Post-tantrum make-up session

Post-tantrum make-up session

That’s what some days are like. Other days are perfect—although I suspect my standard of “perfect” has dramatically decreased to mean any day that doesn’t end with me in tears, hiding in the bathroom, clutching my wine glass tightly while praying for an easy bedtime.

Like you, I adore my child beyond words. I can’t spend enough time with him! I think of him constantly when we aren’t together. Parenthood has been the wildest, most awesome ride of my entire life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and don’t regret my choice to become a parent for even a second. And I enjoy more moments than I don’t.

But that doesn’t make it any less challenging and crazy.  And when, during those moments, I vent to my friends about my lunatic child or I pour myself a second glass of wine, that doesn’t make me any less awesome a mother. It makes me normal.

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7 Comments

  1. THIS is exactly what I needed to read. My DD is 3.5 and right in the midst of this difficult period. I’m glad to see other moms share the same problems. Just the other I had to ask on twitter where do ppl put their kids during time out. (If that’s the type of redirection they use.) I got great advice! We had been putting my daughter in her room but quickly realized she enjoyed it too much.

    Thanks again for being so honest!

  2. Terrible twos are nothing, ‘threenagers’ & the ‘fuck you fours’ is where attitude & language collide & make you wonder what the hell happened! At the end of the day, no age is easy. Thankfully, those of us that are honest, share just how difficult it is. That’s gotta be comforting on those days :)
    Yuz recently posted..I’m ‘that mum’ & proud of it

  3. Today Sebastian screamed at me because I insisted on toasting his waffles *just a little* rather than letting him eat them straight out the freezer.

  4. Very good read! I am really with you on this. For me, having a toddler is the most difficult thing when it comes to parenting but it is also the most rewarding. Being a parent is difficult, exhausting, hurtful, stressful and such but you’ll not believe how the one causing all these can make all the feelings go away with just a single smile–that easily. That’s the joy of parenting. :)
    Janet Dubac recently posted..The Greatest Lesson We Can Teach Our Kids

  5. Threenagers are so rough. It does get easier. I’m dealing with sassiness now, but it is mild compared to the tantrums at three. At five, the oldest can communicate not only what she is upset about but her feelings about it. Meltdowns still happen, but they are not full blown tantrums. Sending you so much love.
    Jenny recently posted..Rising from the Ashes

  6. I was sooooo happy I came across this post. Thank you. As a new parent and blogger I recently wrote a post entitled “It’s official – I moan a lot” (about parenting). I immediately felt guilty about writing such a negative post. But reading your post made me think that writing about reality includes the struggles of parenthood.
    Jamie Last recently posted..Why you must wash your hair in under 20 minutes

  7. I love you. For this. Thank you so so much for making this post. I can not tell you how many f***ing blogs I stopped following because they never posted anything other than the wonderful(and impossible unless you went to the university of martha stewart and have house maids and butlers and cooks to do everything for you) art projects, home made whole grain organic locally picked pies and wonderful children who speak latin and mandarm and never have tantrums. As much as I loved their blogs, I began to dislike them because they put such a standard on what parenting has to be. Always appearing perfect, without emotion or tantrums. And without how parents feel about their kids sometimes. When my daughter is having an especially dramatic tantrum I always think to myself

    “youre so annoying” hahahahahaha

    This makes my life feel normal and thank you for that.

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