It’s been a challenging month at the homestead. Lucy’s gone from a smiley, cheery baby to a cranky, sullen toddler. She’s perfected the art of the temper tantrum, knowing how to throw her head back just far enough to make an impact on me without making an imprint on the floor. My nerves are frayed, my head aches, and my patience has been tried.
I laughed out loud when a mom in a FB group that I’m on wrote: “Now that my 16 month old is… well a 16 month, I am faced with the cold hard reality that I need to parent. Meaning, the first year you just love them a lot and keep them alive. Then they become toddlers and you need to do stuff like getting them to not freak the fuck out when you put away the mop, or something.” Well said, mama.
So, what to do? Other than walking away and taking a deep breath, what can I do?
Well, I decided to listen. I put down the phone, logged out of Facebook, closed the laptop, and gave Lucy my full attention. I watched as she communicated her needs to me. I listened to both her sounds and her body language and instead of cries and shrieks and screams, here’s what I heard: “Mom, I’m tired,” “Mom, I’m hungry” “Mom, these molars are killing me!” “Mom, get this damn finger paint off of me!”
I’m also learning to listen to my own needs. It IS okay to walk away sometimes. It is okay to hand your screaming toddler to the husband or a [very good] friend. And it is okay not always knowing what to do.
It’s not a perfect science. Sometimes, I’m positive she’s saying “I’m tired,” when really she’s just pissed that I took the crayons away, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Listening takes practice and apparently, I’m a novice, but I’m looking forward to hearing more.