Written by: Naomi Goodale
Pretty funny! Pretty true right? I saw this quote on a Facebook Friend’s page not too long ago and couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I retraced some of my most insanity-driven moments with Hannah in more recent weeks. And I should start by saying that whoever first coined the term “terrible twos” clearly hadn’t had a child turn three yet!!! HOLY STUBBORN!!!
Take this past Thursday as we ventured out to Starbucks (one of our usual outings) where we always raise a toast with smiles and a “Cheers Darling!” We hung around the fountain drinking our hot cocoa as Hannah told us one of her best stories yet about a flying whale who got caught by a pirate and then escaped. After about an hour of fun there, we took off to the Carlsbad Playwerx gym—this awesome, oversized-indoor-netted jungle gym with a couple areas full of those familiar (Chuck E. Cheese) rainbow colorful balls. Lots of fun and a great outlet for children to get their exercise in and energy out before nap/bed time.
Truthfully, it’s probably more of a workout for the parent whose child insists on them climbing the course over and over again with them (aka) this mama. As a grown adult, you feel like nothing short of trapeze artist ducking down and trying to finagle your way through those small boxed-sized cutouts in the netting to get to all the different sections of the gym. Anyhow, after a fun-filled morning with a happy—easy—16 month-old and (generally speaking) well-behaved, well-mannered 3 year old (ENTER) the switch. The ‘angel-to-devil-child’ switch. I can say that right?
We had played for nearly two hours and when it was time to go, Hannah not only tells me “NO!!” but lays down on the floor proceeding to make an elaborate scene. She is definitely our little drama queen! She does what we have coined the “wind-up cry” when she’s really on a good one. No tears, just a really awful performance. I’ll tell her “it’s not theatre time Hannah” But who knows!? She probably does have a future in it. Anyway, these situations don’t happen often or we’d never leave the house, but when they do arise I usually do my best to maintain composure and not play into her games. And ‘usually’ the reverse psychology works.
Me- “Ok baby. You stay here and mommy and Adelynn will go home, we’ll see you later! Love you! Bye!”
H- “Nooooooooo mommy!! You stay here!”
Me- “Well sweetie your sister has to take her nap and she needs her bed to do that, soooo we have to go.”
H- “NO MOMMY!!! (Now screaming at me as she resentfully gets up and follows, pouting the whole way) I don’t WANNA go home!!!”
I ignore her and continue walking toward the exit just as she decides to test me and turn around to go back into the gym. I’m waiting….waiting…waiting in the hallway (as if I left) until I finally go back in. Clearly she doesn’t think I’d really leave her and she’s right. I find her in the little toy-room corner of the gym in her own little stubborn—”I’m gonna do what I want”—world.
Me- (More firm now) “Hannah, come on. We need to leave! I really don’t want to give you a time-out but that’s what’s going to happen if you don’t get up.”
H- (Casual and smug as she continues to play) “No”
(ENTER) SUPER-strength-mommy with a back pack on my back, a 16 month old in one arm as I bend to the side nearly breaking my back to swoop up her 40 lb body. As she’s kicking and screaming, I throw her over my free shoulder. We finally make it outside and I’m about two seconds from dropping her and snapping. Oh yeah, that show “Snapped”—I always wondered how a mother could possibly do such horrendous things to her husband or child, but I think I’ve had much more sympathy after becoming a mother myself. Ha! Now clearly, the only difference between a normal mother ‘snapping’ and one that would actually harm their child, has to do with mental illness; which, truly makes me sad not only for those children but those mothers as well. They’re sick. They need help and a lot of love.
Thankfully, I am not dealing with such mental instabilities and wouldn’t dream of harming my child, but as a parent in this situation, I think it’s safe to say—we all get it! So I’m still struggling to hold both of them until finally I have to put Hannah down to get Adelynn in her car seat. Of course, these are the moments I wish I had eight arms and hands. Hannah is still screaming and now laying on the pavement of the parking lot.
As I rush to strap Adelynn in and don’t have eyes on Hannah anymore, I can only hope she’s not about to get run over by one of the cars pulling into the lot. And of course, this is all going down as several other mothers with their happy-toting-toddlers, are heading in to the gym watching our theatrical performance unfold—ya, only slightly embarrassing. I finally get Adelynn in and swing around to the other side of the car to pick up Hannah off the ground as she’s now screaming ten octaves higher at the top of her lungs, snot-faced and all.
She was past the point of being calmed down with a ‘zen-mommy’ talk about her behavior and I was nowhere near Zen, rather about two seconds away from blood literally boiling out of my body. I just couldn’t wait to get her in and shut the doors so I could gather myself, take a breath, and then scold her as we drove home, reaffirming exactly why she was going straight to time-out and then to bed and NOT going back to Playwerx for a long time. If we were spankers that would’ve been the time to lay a good one on her. Heck, I probably should have in hindsight!
Anyhow, she fought me tooth and nail, thrusting her body forward with ALL her strength—and let me tell you, the girl is STRONG—making it near impossible for me to strap her in. I finally had to use all my force with one arm just to hold her down so I could buckle her in with the other, as she continued to scream in my ear while smacking the air between us—thankfully knowing better than to actually hit me. At least some self-reflection was going on for her in those moments. As soon as I made it to the driver seat and before we left, I turned around and laid a long-awaited VERY firm scolding on her which of course made her cry even harder and scream even louder the….Whole. Way. Home. Not exactly ten minutes of music to my ears. Thankfully it was just ten minutes and not more.
And thankfully Adelynn passed out the second she was strapped in, totally unaffected by Hannah’s meltdown. I don’t think I could’ve handled two screaming children at that point. Once we were home, I got Hannah out and threw her over my shoulder once more, as she screamed the whole way up the stairs straight to time-out. I turned off all the lights and shut the door. David was home so I had someone to vent my traumatic experience to, and even he was taken back with the way she was screaming. She suffered in a long time-out and only when she finally stopped crying, we opened the door to talk to her.
H- (Sniffling) “I sawy mommy”
Me- “What are you sorry for baby?”
H- (With her eyes swollen from crying) “I not listen. I yelling at mommy” …”Mommy, I wanna play now.”
Me- “I love you very much baby but because you acted that way, we’re not going back to Playwerx for a long time and like mommy said, you had to have a time out and then go straight to bed, so please listen now and I’ll lay down with you.” Of course David chimed in with a lecture on listening to mommy and daddy….
H- “Mommy read to me”
Me- “I would love to, but not today because reading is a fun thing and when you act naughty like you did, we don’t get to do fun things before bed.” Of course I wanted to read to her like I do before nap/bed time every night but wasn’t about to give her a single thing that she asked for just so I could remind her of what happened the next time she acted out like this.
Our talk ended with lots of hugs and kisses as she always longs for affection after she’s been in trouble. And once both girls were fast asleep in their beds, I had the time to reflect on the morning and this thing called ‘parenting’. I felt like I was in the twilight zone. Now, I know (as I have been told) that I was just as stubborn—if not far worse—at her age. I would go from this sweet, little loving and affectionate angel to a devil child in a matter of mere seconds if I didn’t get my way. I actually have memories of running up and down our apartment hallway throwing my body down and banging my head on the floor (or wall) over and over again. No wonder why my memory is shot. Brain damage!
So I suppose this is my Karma? Nonetheless, there are these moments when I still have to pinch myself; “Yes Naomi! You ARE the parent now” as hard of time as I have believing it myself. When did I even ‘grow up’ much more become qualified to raise and teach multiple little human beings how to live and operate in the world!? This thing called motherhood is nothing short of WILD. I am learning new things every day and being challenged in ways that I couldn’t have really understood prior to having my own. But even in the toughest moments, like the aforementioned, I take a step back and thank God for giving me the opportunity to ‘grow up’ and mature even more through the process of it all.
It’s a battlefield in my mind everyday where I am forced to find grace for myself. To know that I am not the perfect person or perfect parent but doing my best. When I fall short and beat myself up for being “too stern” or “too short-tempered” or “too this” and “too that” I have to find that grace all over again. I have to choose to love myself—faults, failures and all if I am going to teach my girls how to do the same. I have to forgive myself and even ask my children for forgiveness, which I have done a number of times when my heart tells me to…
It’s a humbling role to be a parent and one that comes with a lot of hard work and responsibility, but even more reward at the end of the day, so I would like to end this post on a ‘hats-off’ to all of us moms and dads…and even more so to OUR moms and dads for having dealt with us the best they could! Mom, Dad; we made you go totally insane at times….and we totally get it now!
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Photo above by: Talia Cruz