As a mom of two toddlers at the moment, my life is a total circus most of the time. Someone always needs something every second of the day, and some days, I honestly have no idea how we even make it to bedtime. While my husband and I do our best to teach our kids right from wrong and appropriate behavior and life skills, we ask each other daily, “What else can we do? Are we doing this, right?” and many different variations of those questions. Not to mention that for the past three months, we have all been together nonstop due to this pandemic, which has only increased our frustrations and rapidly decreased our patience. To be honest, it has been hard. Really, really hard.
I will be the first to admit that I am a problem-solver; my first thought whenever something is wrong is, “How can I fix that to make it better?” I am that way with relationships, issues at work, and even with my kids. So naturally, when our kids act out or do things that frustrate us or annoy us, I try to find a solution. Being that my husband and I are both teachers, we have seen the full spectrum of all types of behaviors in children, and our goal is to teach them to become kind, compassionate, self-reliant individuals one day. I’ve done plenty of Google searches on “Consequences for toddlers that work” or “What is normal development for an 18-month-old?” and sometimes, I think I do more harm than good. I have listened to podcasts, read articles and websites, researched various motherhood and parenting blogs, and done just about everything I can to help eliminate those challenging toddler behaviors.
But then I had an epiphany: I can’t “fix” my kids. Toddlers are highly complex little creatures who often lack logic, unable to understand multi-step directions, and are overly impulsive. They are professional boundary testers who are absorbing every little thing around them, just doing their best to keep up. Are there some undesirable behaviors that can be changed? Of course. But overall, I have realized that regardless of how many parenting books you read, how many seminars you attend, how many children you have been around, or how much input your family members give you, parenting is just THAT hard.
I was brought up to believe that your children are a direct reflection of you. Kids who act up or have issues must need their parents to step in and be more assertive or more present to “fix” those behavior problems. However, as I have grown older, I now realize that is not always the case. Kids act up for so many different reasons, and honestly, sometimes it has nothing to do with parenting. There are a variety of factors that may cause young children to misbehave, and as I am riding this parenting rollercoaster at the moment, I just have to tell myself that there is no magic solution for kids to act right all the time. There is no “perfect child” (not that I want that, anyway), and in each misbehavior, there is something to take away from it. But parenting really is just. that. hard.
So mamas…give yourself some grace. Try to step back and remember that you are working around the clock to build little humans that will one day be the future of our world. Parenthood brings the highest of highs and mixes them with some of the lowest of lows, tests our patience to the max, and pushes us to places that we never thought we’d go. Parenthood brings the greatest joys of life intertwined with some of the most infuriating moments. It’s the most rewarding job we’ll ever have but just know that you’re not doing it wrong–it’s just that hard.