For a while there I was all like, “what’s so terrible about the twos?’ And then it happened.
Literally over night. Some strange demonesque like creature stole my sweet little E and inhabited his body. I mean he looks like himself. When he’s sleeping. Angelically. Cute teacup-type piglet snores escaping from his little button nose.
Then his eyes flick open. He sits up. And I’ve got a little Chucky* on my hands.
It’s not an everyday thing. Some days he wakes up his happy, little I-just-want-to-squeeze-you-and-love-you-and-never-let-you-go self.
Then there’s the other days. And on those days everything becomes a negotiation. Which inevitably leads to a war. Which inevitably leads to someone crying.
When I say everything I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. What I really mean is E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Putting on the nappy, getting in the car seat. Taking off the nappy, getting out the car seat.
On these occasions I try my best to be the ‘adult’ in the situation. And for the most part I succeed, despite the fact that all I want to do is fall on the germ-caked floor, refuse to move despite various attempts at bribery, and scream and cry like a banshee too.
Before you start thinking I belong in a loony bin, I don’t really think he’s been possessed by a creature of the afterlife. I know it’s just the inevitable terrible twos kicking in, and this is where point 4.3.1 of the ‘unwritten’ parental manual kicks into play – Discipline: How to use a naughty corner effectively.
But it’s physically, mentally and emotionally draining in a way I could never have imagined. And it’s made me realize that I owe someone (I don’t actually know who she is otherwise I’d use her name) a long-overdue apology.
Once upon a time, in a life I can vaguely remember it seems so long ago, I was enjoying a childless drinks-sesh with my footloose and fancy-free, childless girlfriends, when I noticed a little family sat a few tables from us.
The couple were engaged in a conversation and their little boy was engaged in, well, an iPad. ‘How terrible!’ I thought. ‘You bring your child to a restaurant and then you hand him an iPad. What’s the point of even bringing him? In fact what’s the point of even having children if you’re just going to let an iPad raise them? I’ll never be like that mom!’
I think I actually said the last part out loud.*hides in shame*
Firstly, I’d like to say sorry to that Mom for being so damn judgy.
For not understanding that she had probably heard her name (well her new name, Mom) being called 126 thousand times that day – starting at 3am.
For not realizing that that was probably the first time she had sat down all day.
For not thinking about the fact that all that couple wanted was to have one complete conversation, which was probably about that child’s future and which schools they still needed to put his name down for.
For not knowing that every other second of that day, and the one before that, and the one before that, she had spent playing, loving, cuddling, changing, negotiating, tolerating, trying her absolute very best.
So, from the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry iPad Mom.
Secondly, I’d like to tell my past, know-it-all, non-parent-self, to “pipe-down, shut your pie hole and mind your f-ing beeswax!”
I have learnt that every stage of parenting brings with it new challenges. This stage, the talking, the independence, the inquisitive nature has just made my heart explode. Watching my baby become a little boy has been an emotional journey that has had me both laughing hysterically and sobbing my eyes out.
But the tantrums, testing the boundaries, play-date brawls etc. I have found particularly challenging. It’s exhausting. And exhausting in a way that I’ve never experienced before. It can, at times, knock the wind right out of your “I-can-do-this sail”. It can even make you start doubting yourself as a parent. Especially when your child uses his new-found voice to tell you to, “go away!”
So sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to survive. If that means putting on Minions for the millionth time, so be it. If it means resorting to bribery with a pack of Smarties (but NOT! the red ones god forbid), so be it. If it means whipping out the iPad at a restaurant so you can just have one complete conversation with your husband, so flipping be it.
And middle fingers up to my past, know-it-all, non-parent-self.
*For those of you who were deprived of the horror of Chucky, may I forever ruin your sleep with this link. Oh, wait, you’re a mom, you don’t sleep, so you’ll be fine.
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Kate Royce is an advertising copywriter, co-founder of Mammas’ Meeting Place and adoring mother to little Ethan whom, she is convinced, is set to be the greatest adventurer and explorer the world has ever known. Her dad once described her as “having the ability to find beauty in the strangest places,” which she thinks is one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said about her.