toddlerhood

Now that I have two littles...

We have been through so many changes lately and are still in transitions at the moment. So, it wasn't a surprise when little one #1 asked me to nurse all of a sudden the other day. She had asked for it a few times during the day and I refused each time. I didn't give it any thought, I just automatically said "no" every time. Immediately upon each request, people's warnings began ringing in my ears:

"She won't ever let it go again."

"She'll think she can control you."

"You can't give kids everything they ask for."

"She's too old to nurse."

At night, she asked for it again but with a gentleness that I hadn't seen from her in a while since she entered her boisterous toddlerhood. She also seemed like she really needed it so, apprehensively, I cuddled in the covers with her and nursed her for the first time in 5 months.

I cried like a baby.

I missed our alone moments so much. I missed feeling I could do things with her without having my eye on my other baby. I missed doing things with her without the feeling that we have to hurry because little one #2 may have to nurse/sleep/check-in with momma. Our 3 person family grew to 4 and with that came changes to my relationship with her. And although I know things will slow down with little one #2 and they will entertain each other and both become more independent as time goes by, our dynamic changed permanently. I really missed it while we were nursing. She looked up at me with adorably tired doe eyes and began to squeeze my elbow skin like she always used to when she was a baby. I was in heaven having her so close because her current stage in life doesn't see many moments of stillness with momma.

I felt really happy to have felt how much she needed closeness with me because not only did I have such a yummy moment with her but I felt like I was still in tune with her and could still recognize her needs. Since she became a toddler I have felt somewhat of a disconnection and haven't known how to "get it back."  But I see I am still listening, I am still aware and I am still ready to give her what she needs to grow confidently and securely.

 

Aaaaahhhhhhhhh.

It's that day. The kind of day I haven't gotten out of my pajamas yet and it's 1.29pm. Little one #1 hasn't brushed her teeth yet and neither have I, not because we're gross but because I have totally forgotten.

I couldn't find the vinegar 2 seconds after I took it out of the pantry because I had put it in the fridge.

There's a bowl full of barbecue sauce sitting on the floor. How it got there, I'm not so sure right now.

There's food all over the floor; broccoli bits all over my living room rug and toys everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

I sat down at my toddler's table to eat lunch with her. The amount of mustard I had put on her plate was not acceptable so she screamed at the top of her lungs at me and sobbed. I had had it. I yelled at her. "Shutuuuuuuuup. and. EAT!"

It was a slap in my own face. But I had to go for more. She wouldn't stop crying so I slammed her Melissa and Doug toolbox on the table. She jumped and cried even louder. My child was afraid of me. Shit.

I took a moment to myself in silence. I didn't even move. I felt like SUCH a heel. It's so easy to feel like a bad mother and just wallow in that so I just took a deep breath, looked past whatever it was I found irritating and cumbersome about her, me, and the situation and put my hand on her shoulder and gently asked her what she needed.

"I need mustard in a bowl, mommy."

As I fulfilled the very easy request, I thought about how much I absolutely don't want to be emotionally unavailable to her but sometimes am. It's very NOT okay for me to shut her out as I was shut out. I want her to feel she can make requests from me, cry with me, and tell me what she's feeling. She won't, if I keep this up.

I kneeled down to look into her eyes to apologize to her. "Sorry for yelling at you love. You were trying to show me how you felt about something and I did not react well. You can always, always tell me how you feel, even if I make mistakes about the way I react. I have feelings too."

I'm sure she didn't get all that, but she got the feeling behind it.

I am finding this toddler stage to be a lot about apologizing to my little one. I feel like I am making so many mistakes. It feels like I do more wrong than right although my husband says it's actually the other way around- so much so that when I do one thing off, I feel like it's the end of the world because I am so loving and respectful and present most of the time.

It's always nice to hear you are doing a good job. Especially from him, who's here and sees me and really knows if I am or not.

But still...

Now, if you will excuse me... I have to go pick up hard boiled egg off the floor, comb it out of my hair, maybe even comb my hair and get dressed, and delete the 300 pictures little one #1 just took on my iPhone during the time it took to write this post.

Sigh...