A COLOURFUL LIFE · CONFESSIONS

Confessions of a Single Mother: TODDLERHOOD

Sometimes I forget I am the parent of a toddler.

I wonder “why am I so exhausted? What’s wrong with me? I haven’t even left the house yet!”

And then this happens:
“We’re going to the library now darling”.
“…I DON’T WANT TO GO TO THE LIBRARY, I WANT ICE-CREAM, NOW MUMMY I WANT WHITE ICE CREAM NOW…”

And I am reminded exactly why.

I forget that this is one of the hardest times, that all toddlers hold the power to push their weary parents to the limit, and that the tantrums, sulking and incessant demands are very very normal.

I forget that toddlerhood, by nature, is extremely tough for all parents.

But however standard their behaviour, however universal, however common it is for our tiny humans to go through seven different emotions – Bi-Polar, they are ALL bi-polar – in the space of 30 seconds; it doesn’t make it any easier for us. It doesn’t make the battle of wills any less challenging, though it is reassuring to know we will all go through the same daily tests of patience and persistence. (And endurance, lets not forget endurance). And that we can all laugh and cry about it together later, at some point, in the distant future, when we’re not doing laundry or cutting crusts off triangular pieces of toast.

I’ve been reading the same parenting book for months now; dipping in and out of it, taking notes, going back over chapters. I want to take it all in because it’s one piece of parenting literature that is– and this word makes me cringe a little but I am going to use it anyway – hugely EMPOWERING. I actually think it feeds me special-parenting-energy every time I read it. It has words of wisdom that I just want to hand out in little booklets at maternity wards across the world.

I will do more of a summary of this book when I’m ready to give it back to the library, including some of the practical advice that the remarkable Dr Tsabary offers, but for now I just want to share some extracts from one chapter describing the crazy-stage that is toddlerhood. These words really made me smile and brought me a lot of comfort in their spot-on description, reminding me once again, that what I am experiencing is very much the norm.

Extracts from The Conscious Parent by Dr Shefali Tsabary (Clinical Psychologist):

“As a child’s desire to express its uniqueness kicks in, it heralds a trying time for parents. Children in the two’s can be exasperating, draining us of patience. We tell them to go here, and they go there. We tell them up, and they choose down. We tell them no, and they scream or wail until we experience unbecoming fantasies of what we would do we them if only we could get away with it.

“Unpredictable and impetuous, manipulative and attention-seeking, they can be moody, sullen, clingy, defiant, rowdy and tempestuous. We spend hours taking them to activities, arranging fun times with friends, preparing for their birthday party, and yet they are ungrateful and exploitive. Ravenous in their greed, they love us when they want something, whereas the next moment it’s as if we didn’t exist.”

“Toddlerhood is a planet all in its own. Nothing prepares us for the onslaught of its wrath or the endearing confusion of its budding independence.

“…The child who is perfectly angelic one minute can turn into a raving lunatic the next. The sweet-tempered tot can become a finger-biting terror in an instant….

“…Toddlerhood is a chaotic phase of a child’s life both emotionally and physically. Messy, undefined, disorderly, ever-changing, and unpredictable, there are no neat and tidy answers here. No broom is wide enough to sweep away the dust, grit and grubbiness of toddlerhood.

“…While this phase often feels impossible for both parent and child, it’s truly magnificent to witness. This is the phase in which the child’s sense of self begins to blossom, as it begins to explore its creativity, curiosity, and independence. Toddlers are spectacular, invincible in their fantasies, limitless in their potential. They want to fly high in the sky, sail the seven seas, explore the world, and stay awake till dawn….

“As we watch our toddler’s insatiable curiosity for life, we are reminded that we too can engage the moment with full abandon, living in wonder and awe….”

Oh I’m in awe alright. From the tears to the laughter, the mundane to the magical. I’m in awe of my daughter every, single, day.

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