Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Motherhood & More: Three-year-old phase makes for some rough times*

Man. Three-year-olds. Three. Year. Olds.

I’m guessing that anyone who has had or currently has a 3-year-old knows what I’m referring to and I can close up shop without elaborating.

But for those of you who do not understand, let me explain.

It’s an endless stream of “No!” and “I don’t want to!” and my personal favorite, “Huh?” It’s screaming because I cannot spend every waking moment in his presence, playing trains or reading stories. It’s yelling because I refuse to let him watch “Handy Manny” for hours on end. It’s even, unfortunately, lots of back talking and generally acting like a lunatic.

There is no middle ground of emotions — we’re either extremely thrilled, extremely sad or extremely angry. And it’s that anger that really bothers me. He just gets so mad. It’s something I don’t know how to handle and frankly, it’s wearing me out.

I try to work through everything calmly and rationally because that’s what keeps him from totally losing his mind. But sometimes after nights of no sleep and hours on end of trying to convince and cajole the little bugger to do what he needs to do — that if he would just eat the one bite of chicken I put on his plate, he could get down and play — I lose my own cool.

I’ve had many moments as a mother that I’m not proud of. There have been so many times I look back on my own behavior and see how it has negatively affected the entire situation and how it has contributed to hysteria brewing in my house.

And I try. I try so hard.

I can see him watching me as he does something he knows he’s not supposed to do, waiting for whatever reaction is coming. He wants my attention, be it negative or positive. And sometimes, even though I drop whatever I’m doing and focus on him, it’s too late.

So it’s been a rough few weeks. And the only reason I can write about it now is that I think we may be coming out of the worst of it, at least for the moment. I realize that in saying that I’ve completely doomed myself to many, many more days of drama.

The daily onslaught of 3-year-old funk is, much like every milestone my children have crossed, something I was entirely unprepared for. I am slow to realize what is happening, but once I do, I am quick to respond accordingly. I hope, at least.

Honestly I’ve hesitated to write about this chapter in our lives because I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about Sebastian.

Unless he’s tired, he’s really an awesome little guy, quick to laugh and joke and give big hugs and kisses. He’s learning how to play with his little sister and to take care of her and keep an eye on her when I’m not around. He wants to help me with anything I’m doing, be it washing dishes, sweeping the floor or making bread.

And so I’ve avoided this topic. But I want to be honest. I want to share what it’s really like to live in a house with two small children.

My son is a normal 3-year-old, which is a rough time for anyone. He’s struggling with independence, in that he wants it so bad but knows that he still has to ask mine and my husband’s permission. He still relies on us for so many things.

But he’s learning how to be a little boy, how to grow up.

And while I welcome him dressing himself, learning to play independently and possibly tying his own shoes, I still hope he always needs me for big hugs and kisses.

Also reading stories. I really like reading him stories.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise's Wednesday's Woman on September 28, 2011.

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