Strong-willed. Spirited. Fiery. Energetic.
All words used to describe my daughter.
Let’s please stop bullshitting each other though. My kid is a mess.
A very cute, sometimes-sweet mess that I love with every ounce of my heart, but seriously, we can be real. No need to sugarcoat things. Lets just agree that on a scale from 1-10 on toddler shitheadedness, my kid is a very strong 9.
I get it. Trust me.
She and I play a game sometimes where we act out feelings with facial expressions. Her favorite is angry. In fact, it’s the only face she will make. She just makes a lot of different angry faces. Then makes me do the sad face. Then laughs. I guess that game isn’t really as fun as it seems in my head.
A full day with her is absolutely exhausting. Between her not napping, climbing out of bed, crying to the point of hyperventilation when you have to clean up lunch and can’t play blocks, hitting in anger, throwing food, wanting to be held constantly, and lashing out with a 27-minute tantrum when you can’t give her every ounce of your attention, you may manage to get a bathroom break. But she will monitor you. Be sure of that.
This is my life, and I like it. Most of the time. Sometimes I just want to hide in the closet with a six-pack and pretend like my name isn’t Mommy.
This was also the life of my babysitter for five days a week. She was such a sweet lady, and we loved her from the moment we met her. She was our babysitter soul mate.
This was one relief in my life. While I worked, I got to send my daughter somewhere each day where I knew she was safe and well cared for. A place where she had fun, ate organic food, played with other kids, and learned about the world.
Maybe I was the one sugar-coating things.
Last Thursday, after weeks of ever-escalating bad behavior, I picked my daughter up and was greeted by a very distressed version of her caregiver. The woman’s hands were shaking. She looked as though she was on the verge of tears. She said, “I’m just not sure I can do this another day.”
Is this real life? Someone pinch me. This can’t be happening.
My kid is getting kicked out.
I realize that my level of tolerance for my daughter is greatly elevated by the fact that she spent nine months inside my uterus, but this was sobering.
How did this happen? Where did I go wrong as a mother? Is my kid on a fast track to juvie? Is there something really wrong with her mentally?
I needed answers. I needed help. I needed to talk to other moms. I needed to google the shit out of this.
So I did all of these things. I also lost a few hours sleep stressing about how I was already ruining her life by turning her into a unlovable little monster.
But do you know what every person and article said? She’s normal.
My daughter is a normal kid who is testing her boundaries in a way that may be a bit more extreme than other kids. She is not destined to be featured in an episode of Scared Straight. She’s just a little asshole with strong opinions and a huge personality, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Do we need to work on discipline in my house? Probably, but the point is that these moments do not define us. I’m not a bad mom. My daughter is not a future convict. This is just one down in the many ups and downs we will face together.
We have to remind ourselves sometimes to not jump to conclusions every time something goes wrong. Things aren’t always as permanent and as life defining as we think. Life and kids are constantly changing. Ebb and flow. Stages and phases.
Whatever it is, good or bad, just give it some time. It will probably change.
My daughter’s bad behavior doesn’t make her a bad kid. It just makes her a kid. A very strong-willed, spirited, fiery, energetic kid.
image via iStockPhoto