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.