Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mothering The Three's.

Yesterday was one of those days in Mothering that would drive any mother to drink. Even the ones that don't. 

I've always considered myself a patient person. My husband may disagree with you but it's true. I was always a patient person, until I had kids. There's something about hearing an incessant chorus of "no," "that's mine!" and "leave me alone," that sends any last shred of patience I hold dear, clamoring for quiet, calm and maybe a margarita or two. 

Our day ended yesterday with me seated at the kitchen table, across from my mother, with my head in hands. Veritably exhausted, eyes clenched tightly shut, downright whining about how "age three is just so hard. So, so hard." I needed sympathy. I needed reassurance. I needed someone to say, "Yep,  you're right. It does." Without saying, "It gets better. Four is worse. You're doing it wrong. Try it this way." 

Mothering a three year old is much like any other mothering moment. The highs of mothering one, watching them hit their developmental milestones, watching them learn and engage, seeing them, unprompted, take the hand of their little brother, after playing nicely together for more than five minutes, are so high. It is in those moments that I see tiny little angels flying around my living room, a golden light shining down upon the boys and I think to myself, "I am so lucky. How could life get any better than this?"

No less than four seconds later, I'm calling nearby circuses to see if they have any openings, willing to beg and plead with them to take two certain disobedient heathens off of my hands. The lows of mothering a three year old are so, so low.  

Am I still lucky in those moments? Of course I am. Do I see it that way? Absolutely not. It is in those moments where I quickly lose sight of how blessed I am. As my voice raises octave after octave and privileges are threatened and revoked left and right, I can't help but want to run. To take my small shred of patience and run so far away so as not to have deal with defiance, disobedience and back-talking.

I get it. It must be so difficult feeling as if your entire little world is spiraling out of control. Your tiny inner self struggling to maintain, grasping at whatever little mechanisms you have in your arsenal (which at age three is not very many) to regain some modicum of control, not having nearly enough words on your vocabulary to adequately express yourself. 

The tears, the screaming, the tempers that fly so freely, is the most you can do to hang on. There is no reasoning with a three year old and I have to accept that, no matter how hard, how blue in the face I turn, while trying. 

Me? I'm a selfish person at heart. You're preaching to the choir kid. Having to constantly think about others' needs before your own is hard and certainly not a lesson that I expect you to learn over night. Hell, thirty years, one husband and two and a half kids later and I still struggle with this lesson on occasion.

I continue to try to find ways to work through these three year old moments when all I want to do is stomp my feet, yell and scream so that you'll understand that what I'm saying and doing is only what is best for you.

But then I guess that makes me no better than you, my three year old son.

I know this is only a season. I know I have to pick and choose which bears to fight and for the most part, I'm a pretty good chooser. You don't want to wear a winter coat outside? Fine, we're only headed to the car anyway and I'll let it run in the driveway so that it's nice and toasty once you step inside. 

You don't want to sit at the table and eat your lunch? Fine. You can sit wherever you're going to eat it. If that happens to be on the floor in the middle of the hallway, so be it. I'll make space for you. 

But you have to learn to share your toys. You have to learn to be a good friend. You have to learn what it means to give to others. I don't have any good reason other than you have to do it. You have to grow up to be a decent, kind human being and this is where it all starts.

Having to be the teacher and enforcer of manners and lessons on your way to being a decent and kind human being? Well, that shit is just hard sometimes. Especially when it requires more patience and understanding than one is equipped with. 

I guess we both still have a lot to learn, huh? 

Mothering. Where the highs are so high and the lows are so low. And if you're anything like me, you have at least two more three year old's waiting in the wings. I guess I'd better figure this out soon.  

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  1. I say that the good stuff is always more awesome than you can ever imagine, and the bad stuff is sometimes more awful. Then I shake my fist in the air and just say, "Babies...!"

  2. I absolutely loved this post! I can see myself in it so much! We have 4 kids, 5 and under, and I feel like I'm a referee post of the time explaining the rules of life to them. I know they might not comprehend it now, but when they grow up to be kind, well-mannered adults it will click then for them. "Man Mom must have known what she was talking about!"

    Keep up the hard work!! {You're not alone!!}

    -Sami @

  3. It does get easier though! I hated the newborn stage, but we all got out alive.

  4. Ohhhh, motherhood. Ohhhh, toddlerhood. "I needed someone to say, "Yep, you're right. It does." Without saying, "It gets better. Four is worse. You're doing it wrong. Try it this way." is so accurate -- thank God for our own mamas who can do that. Too often, it's many of those exact reactions, which is NOT helpful at ALL. Complete opposite, really.

  5. You took the words right out of my mouth. Every. Single. One.......only substitute the 3 year old for two 2 year olds.

  6. I also used to be patient before I children. The whining, the arguing, and the nonstop "" destroy any strands of patience I have left in a day. I used to fall under the impression that things get easier when they get older, they don't. While my children are 7 and 10 and fairly independent, their level of needs have changed. Now I deal with attitude, back talk, homework, sports...the list goes on. Being the best mom you can be is all anyone can ask for.

  7. It gets better the closer they get to 4. I noticed a HUGE change from the beginning of summer to the end with Braden, he turns in 2.5 months.

  8. Amen Mama. AL THE MOODSWINGS are sending me crazy.

  9. Oh man I feel ya mama. I have a 4.5 year and a almost 3 year old and they drive me completely insane some days. My 4.5 year old is the worst, the crying for no reason, the little fights she picks on purpose with her sister. They both spend lots of time in there rooms lately! I'm still waiting for it to get better!

  10. 3 was the most challenging for me with my son. He's 4.5 now and we only catch glimpses of hard times with him like apologizing but for the most part it's easier because he's more independent. With my daughter two was more challenging.

  11. Great post! I had one of those days tonight with the 4 year old. In all honesty, he is good 98% of the time, which is why I lose my $hi$ that 2% when he is not. Yes, pick your battles. Tonight I stood firm with the no TV, no iPad punishment even though the tears and sad face almost had me caving at one point after the apologies. I knew, however, the situation warranted setting this boundary so he understood the consequences for similar actions in the future. Somehow we still managed to snuggle and read our bedtime books. Then I prayed for the strength and patience for the next time. I don't want to break my little guy's spirit, just want to handle situations as best as I can so we can all grow. Hang in there!

  12. Yes. Just yes. That was the perfect post for describing my current feelings.
    I have to blog today about what I'm thankful for, so I wouldn't think about everything I would like to change. Or everything I'm not thankful for.
    Chin up, parenting does suck. You ARE doing it right. Now go have a virgin cocktail. ;)

  13. Dying...I am on my last 3 year old out of 3 boys. EVERY DAY I say a little blessing of thanks that he is my last. I don't know if it is because he is my last or if he is just that spoiled rotten but things seem waaaaaaaaaaay worse this time around. His oldest brother was not so bad at 3 but it was definitely the worst age. His middle brother caused me to sign up for a 12 bottle wine delivery every month. Him I cannot turn my back on to do anything like that because he will be wrecking havoc or the screaming that errupts from him will cause an immediate migraine. When youngest turns 4 I am giving myself a huge pat on the back and a mommy weekend away, there is no way I would leave my poor husband before then, my Wednesday nights off are enough to make him curl into fetal position before I return some weeks. Hang in there!

  14. It doesn't make parenting any easier, but it's always nice to nice that there is another Mother out there having a difficult time with their three year old.
    I tell my husband all the time, that parenting a three year old would be much easier if I could drink.... but I'm 6 months pregnant... so that won't be happening anytime soon!

  15. I feel ya sister. Just these 3 weeks home alone with Easton all day- it is hard! rewarding and a blessing, but hard. I feel like all I do is correct and instruct. And I don't want to answer WHY...just do it. PLEASE. FOR THE LOVE! You're not alone pretty girl. We're all in this together. One lesson at a time! Just remember those compliments you got that day at preschool on how awesome carter is and his manners and his personality...and then pat yourself on the back for the job you're doing! xoxoxoxo

  16. My firstborn was an absolute angel until one month after he turned 3. Christmas Eve, to be exact! I will say that 4 was the turning point. Hang in there! There isn't a "right" way to get through it. But you will!

  17. Oh mercy. I kid you not when I say I caught Carsyn saying "you'll be the death of me" the other day. She is such a little parrot. Anyway, the littles are just so equally awesome and exhausting. Its always nice to read your blog and feel like someone is in the same exact state that I'm in. Now, move to KY so we can be irl bffs. Love you friend!


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