Any mom with a toddler in their threenage year knows that their toddler is constantly pushing every boundary set for them, test inch of your patience and generally finding their spot in the world. Over the last four months our son has grown and matured astronomically and has broadened his vocabulary unbelievably. Yesterday morning my hubby and I were discussing the changes on him and we are both so surprised but coming with those changes is a little mind that all of a sudden wants to do everything himself, god forbid you don’t let him flush the toilet after doing his business, knows exactly what he wants to eat (cheese, lots of cheese) and the one that annoys me the most, defying at all costs instructions whether it is to get undressed, take your socks off…. oh hell no mommy. Last week was one where time out was a constant, we even now have a degree of time outs, minor infractions he sits on the stairs near the lounge but serious issues he gets to sit in mom’s study all on his own and he HATES it but it totally works.
I have noticed though that it is a cycle of behavior that happens every six months or so, our last period of chaos was in April, just before our trip to South Africa, at one stage we, as parents, were so worried about the trip because we though that our families would think we had raised a total delinquent and then as suddenly as the behavior started it passed and we had our gorgeous little guy back. I do believe that it arises in times of uncertainty or when he is feeling a bit insecure. We have alot of activity at home at the moment, new puppy, new school and dad has been working odd hours. Through all of this, despite my job, I have been trying to make myself more available to him in the afternoon, after my meetings instead of going back to the office I try work from home, weekends are dedicated to spending as much time as a family as possible but often as a parent you don’t feel that you are doing enough.
This feeling isn’t brought about by your children telling you they are unhappy it is often self inflicted because you feel you aren’t giving enough to your children and often the pressure which we place upon our own shoulders is unreasonable and counter productive. The harder you push yourself to be a better parent the harder it becomes to please yourself and instead of sitting back and relaxing with your child or sitting on the floor to help them colour in, we are organizing play dates and activities and before you know it the weekend is gone and if you think about the amount of quality time you have spent together, not in a mall, but just enjoying the intimacy of being a family, you realize it was still not enough.
Often when I reflect on parenting skills and finding more time to enjoy my son I find myself thinking about something my Dad’s mom told me before she died. She had three sons, Nookie (my dad), Peter and Marc. Tragically one Easter weekend Nookie and Peter were killed in a terrible accident and our family lived with the scars of this for the rest of their lives but no one as much as my gran and she often recalled their antics as kids but the one thing that she always said was that she wished she had done more, in broad terms I think she wished she had slowed down and spent more time with her boys as they got older and moved into adulthood and I think that that is a feeling that comes with hind sight and the trauma of losing your children, not just your child but two in one full swoop. I cant begin to image the pain of that loss, despair and emptiness that comes with losing your child, the thought along horrifies me and having grown up with that life is fragile in the back of my mind I really want to try harder to live every moment with my son and introduce him to the world but also to know my child and for him to know he is deeply loved.
Last night after a bit of an argument about getting into the bath, I went to fetch Daniel’s PJs and he called me to the bathroom, looked straight up at me and said, “Mommy, I am very happy”, those five little words totally floored me and made me realize, I guess I am doing something right!