Almost Two, Strong-willed, and Sweet Through and Through

If you’ve followed my spotty blog posts this fall, you may have gotten the feeling that parenting has been a struggle for me lately.  You would be right.

We had a super-smooth transition to part-time daycare. That continues to go well, and I’m completely happy with and confident in our care provider and her assistants. I am SO thankful for this.

But last week, I posted on Facebook that I felt like I was bringing out the worst in my daughter. I know, that’s a horrible sentiment. It’s just that her other caregivers – her daycare providers and her dad – just raved about how much fun they were having with her and how easy-going she was. But when we spent time together, I felt like I was trudging (blindly) through an endless storm of tantrums and tears. I have tried not to take it personally and tried to remain patient with her. And I’ve tried to stay positive, because we’ve had some good times together, too.

But yesterday, we had a near perfect day together. I saw in my daughter what everyone else has been saying about her. She was independent and creative, silly and serious. She marched around the house busying herself with projects. She brought things to show me, and we explored them together. She put together her train set. She choo-chooed! She sang songs quietly to herself and then loudly with me. Best of all, she read books – lots of them. I’m guessing she spent an hour reading on her own yesterday. No, I cannot be happier or more proud about this.

While I showered, Cee brought books into the bathroom, one at a time. She sat on her stool and flipped through the pages, giving her toddler-condensed version of the story. I heard from the shower:

“Mama. Yama. Mama. Yama. Mama? Yama Mama? Yama!”

(Surely you recognize this story! It’s one of my favorites: Is Your Mama a Llama by Deborah Guarino.)

Closing the book, she pronounced, “Tee En!” Then she marched back to her room for the 17th book she would read during the course of my shower.

Reading another of our favorites: Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert. Fabulous book celebrating the beauty and colors of fresh produce. Here, Cee is excited to identify “CORN!”

Thank you, Cee, for letting me see the very best of you this week.

Cee will be two a week from today. I know that the next year will bring lots more rough patches. I know. But I’m feeling confident and ready for the coming year. We’ll weather the rough patches, and we’ll celebrate all the sweetness of life, together.

 

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19 thoughts on “Almost Two, Strong-willed, and Sweet Through and Through

  1. Aww…thanks for sharing. Glad you had some good time. We spent a weekend with my 3 year old niece and 3 month nephew recently and I was exhausted (despite the fact that their parents were there!) Kids are awesome…but they sure know how to take you on the emotional and energy roller coaster of your life ;-)

    • Thanks, Agnieszka! Parenting is “always on.” As an introverted person, it is one of the things about it that is most difficult to me. It’s exhausting, but there is no doubt that it is wonderful, too. Thank goodness they sleep sometimes!

  2. My almost-4 year old is apparently a very good listener at school, helps others and assists the teachers without being asked. Total opposite of home sometimes. I think that’s just the nature of kids. They test their parents yet are angels with everyone else. Sigh.

  3. I think that fifty two create is on the right track, Cee trusts that she can show you her worst fears, tiredness, anger and frustration and knows that you will see beyond it and remember that she is also creative, lovely, interesting and fun. It’s exhausting and wearying to be that safe person, but also a huge privilege. She knows that you are safe, you will love her and wait for her very best self to reemerge. What a gift that is!

  4. My now 10 yr. old son was the same way at times – an angel for everyone else, but saved the tantrums for me. This did not happen very often, though. One thing got us through those rough spots – I was ALWAYS there for him. I homeschooled him from the begining, never worked outside of the house, and never had the need for daycare. I am his mommy, so I spent my time with him. He appreciates that even more than I thought – he’s told me so. Even when he was too young to say it, he showed it. Children need and desire their parents attention. No daycare provider, no matter how good, can take the place of mom. Children know this even from a very young age. Often a child’s tantrum or disobedience is a way of saying, “I don’t like the fact that you are not with me during the day, so why should I make it easy on you now?” On another note, it is good to hear that you and your beautiful daughter have such a good relationship, and you sound like a good mommy. I am simply offering a little advice. I don’t know your situation, or what it was that caused you to feel the need to send your daughter to daycare, but please, for the love of the child, think about saying goodbye to daycare,and not to your daughter. May God bless you.

    • You know, I read your comment last weekend and didn’t have time to respond. But on Monday, Veteran’s Day, we didn’t have daycare as we usually do on Mondays, and I still had to teach in the afternoon. And as much as I love spending time with my daughter, on Monday morning I was thinking about how much I also value the time away from her. I think every parent’s balance point is different, but after being home full-time with Cee until she was 22-months-old, I’m finding it very rewarding to be back at work. I enjoy the mornings when I can sit quietly at my computer, actually finish a cup of tea, and prepare for class. And on the days that we are home together, I feel refreshed and ready to enjoy being with her. I need the time away – it makes me more fulfilled as a person and more patient as a mother. You may not need this – we’re all different people, and you may be most fulfilled spending time with your son. I guess the important thing is for each of us to recognize what we need and to balance our own needs with those of our children.

      I agree with you that mamas are definitely important to children, and they need to know that their mamas will be there for them. My daughter knows that, but she also knows that she can’t have me every minute of every day. I’m glad that she has a strong relationship with her dad. And I’m glad to see that she trusts her caregiver – she runs up and hugs her in the mornings when I drop her off. She talks constantly about her daycare friends. It is a small in-home program, so we quickly learned everyone’s names there. In the history of our species, I’d be willing to bet that stay-at-home moms are more isolated now that ever. I imagine that there have been many ways of caring for children throughout the world’s cultures, and these would often include elders, other family members, and older children. Regardless, I think it is healthy to share the job of parenting with a community of trusted people. My daughter’s daycare feels like a community to us now. We all learn from each other, and I think that can be a benefit to children as well. Cee challenges me and has the occasional tantrum, but I’m pretty sure that’s more age-related than trying to send me a message about daycare (I usually have a harder time getting her to leave daycare than than dropping her off!). And I bet that by the time she is your son’s age, these challenging times will be a distant memory. Best wishes to your family:)

      • Well, I’m glad that this situation works for you and your family. I am glad that you find fullfilment in your work. I hope you didn’t take offense to my comment. For me, I schedule my “Me-time”. I drink my cup of tea, but I don’t have to leave home to do it. I agree with you, us homeschooling, stay-at-home moms are indeed isolated from the world and it’s worldly ways. I thank God that I have a loving husband to take care of things such as finances, providing for us, etc. I am even more isolated than most because, due to certain circumstances, I don’t drive – never did. I depend on my husband for everything, and my home is my shelter. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t own a credit card, and I’m glad. My husband gives me what I need. I find my fullfilment in my family.

        By the way, enjoy these moments with your daughter – treasure them, as they will flee! The memories I have of my son at a very young age seem like yesterday to me. Just today I was talking to someone about how time passed so quickly. I still can’t believe he is 10. I look at him now and I still see that sweet baby,that stubborn two-year old, that darling three year old, etc. No. These memories will not be so distant. Enjoy your times with her, the trying and not so trying times. Treasure every moment you have. God bless you and yours. :)

  5. I absolutely treasure these days. A friend gave me a baby diary before my son was born, and I fill it with remembrances of these times rather than all the “firsts” (solid food, roll over, etc.) it was designed to record. I go back to it often, when my son is having a trying day, or when I just need a smile.

    • That’s a wonderful idea – to return to your fond memories when you’re having a rough day. I really have so much to be thankful for. And we’ve had a really good week together, too – birthday and all!

  6. It is absolutely normal for children’s first attempt to create their own self identity to be an effort to distinguish themselves from their mother. They do this by seeing where the boundries are. It will get worse before it gets better. Just keep saying exactly the same phrase over and over so she knows exactly what to expect. I love hearing my preschooler tell her stuffed animals “Has that fuss ever worked for you?” and “You have to be calm, cool, and collected. Deep breath, get it under control.” And remember, you are trying to raise a strong, independent thinking young woman, so this is good, really, honest.

    • Thanks, Maggie. I don’t mind giving her a big hug when she’s having a hard time, but I also try to keep the boundaries clear and consistent when it comes to behavior. We’ve been working on deep breathing. I recently started showing her how to use big breaths to blow out a candle. Now, when she gets upset, I ask her if she’d like to light a candle. She says yes, and watching me light it seems to help her pull it together. Lately she hasn’t even wanted to try blowing it out – we just watch it burn. Oh, and I’ve also caught her telling our hyperactive dog to take deep breaths (which doesn’t work at all, but its really cute).

    • P.S. I’ve moved into a retirement “village” — a ground floor one bedroom unit and not far from my house which will be listed for sale in a few days. It comes with a kitchen but the clubhouse with meals available is only 5 minutes walk away. So far, absolutely no regrets. Maybe I should write a blog about old age! Much love to all three of you.

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