Posted in Blog, Featured, Mother, Shawna

Bigger kids, bigger problems . . .

With my oldest daughter approaching 2.5, life as a mommy is getting scarier. Wait, that sounds worse than I meant it to.

A lot of things are easier. My toddler sleeps through the night in her own bed most nights ( though my five-month-old sure doesn’t so I’m not exactly reaping the benefits).

My toddler also can use her words to tell me what she needs. And she usually does. Though she sometimes resorts to a simple, effective “No, no, no!! No, no, NO! NOOO, NOOO, NOOOOOO!” etc. She is usually a real sweetheart– to me, to her sister and to her friends.  Driving home from preschool today, she said to me “You’re doing a good job taking care of me, mama.” That was awesome. As was the day before when she suddenly and randomly started chanting “I like myself, I love myself I like myself.” That was so dang cute, if a teeny tiny bit too effusive.

She is also doing an amazing job of being a big sister, and that is no small feat when you have to suddenly become the big girl at 23 months.

The part that’s getting scarier is the increasing complexity of her problems. And if I feel like tapping out during the toddler years, woe to me when this kid’s a tween.

But seriously, this stuff is getting real. There are no longer prescribed answers for all her problems (not that the earlier prescriptions worked that well but it was nice to have a laundry list to start with), and, scariest of all, I’m starting to get a taste of the mommy blame game. So far it’s just me blaming myself and then feeling defensive about it, mostly. But I know that there are people we interact with who look at some of the things my daughter does and assume I’m doing everything wrong. Are they right? I don’t know. It’s really scary either way.

When toddlers get older, they start to have actual issues. Individual quirks. Like the kid who holds her poop in for weeks on end, or the kid who bites, the little girl who is terrified of dogs or the little boy who bangs his head against the crib rails. Some toddler issues are weirder than others, and Quinn definitely has some weird ones. (I probably shouldn’t say that here, and will at the very least make sure to delete this by the time she is reading :).)

The thing is, when I talk about her problems these days, I sometimes feel scared and ashamed. I rarely felt that way when she was littler. For one thing, when problems are as much behavioral as they are developmental, the stakes get a lot higher. For another, I know my mothering is going to be really judged. I know that if I hadn’t personally experienced some of these things, I would think the kid’s parents were probably doing something wrong.

When I was a brand new mama, sharing with other moms always brought relief. But the problems are so much more complicated now, and so individual that sharing doesn’t always help. And I feel daunted that I already feel daunted by her problems!

It’s not that I haven’t gotten sympathy or that I don’t feel loved. I have wonderful friends and I’m grateful to have people to lean on, including my sweet hubby who manages to remain pretty unshaken by all this stuff. I also feel overwhelmingly that I have a great kid and I’ve done a great job so far. But it is getting scarier, maybe mostly for the promise of how much scarier it will get before she emerges from her chrysalis and gives her big beautiful wings a quick shake in my direction before heading on her way. So I’m working on being braver. And trying to remember that it’s not ALL me, whether we’re talking about something good or bad.


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  1. My son is the same age as Quinn, and I feel like life is definitely easier because I sleep more (no baby sibling), and Zane can tell me what is wrong (mostly). But I agree about worry going to a new level, especially since his quirks are more obvious to others now that he is older. I try to remember this when ever I have an impulse to judge another mother.

    Here are some of our guilty little secrets: Zane has *just* left our bedroom. He still nurses 1-3 times a day. I still have to put most of his food in his mouth if I want him to eat. I’m making no real move to potty train. I don’t leave enough time in the day to teach him to put on his own shoes or otherwise dress or undress himself.

    I try to realize that I can’t be perfect all the time, so I try to remember the stuff I do really well. He loves books. He is generally polite and says Thank You (sometimes). He loves to be outside. He has empathy.

    Remember that you are doing some things really, really well, and the stuff you think is not so great is also just fine in the grand scheme of life.

  2. Thank you for sharing, Julia! I don’t think you should feel guilty for any of your “secrets.” It sounds like you are a great mama! Your “good stuff” list is so much like mine. Empathy at this age is huge so we should be proud of ourselves, even if one of us (not you 😉 has a kid who holds her poop in! There, I said it.

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