27 Apr

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.


10 Responses to “Escuchame”

  1. Amanda Magee April 28, 2012 at 1:44 am #

    Every word is just so true, and so hard won.

    It never gets harder or easier, it just gets different. Always tinged with magic (and mayhem)

  2. Melany Gallant (@melgallant) April 28, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    So with you on this parenting-a-toddler journey…I like how Amanda phrased it – magic and mayhem indeed.

  3. Christine April 28, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    We’re right in the middle, too, and it’s so soul-drainingly exhausting. Finally, there are moments when you can blink and they don’t fall down the stairs or climb up to the knives. But they need so much and want so much and can’t say much.

    Yes. Listen. I try to do that almost every moment. And I give him the words. “Aaaargh! This is frustrating! You tried to put it in and it won’t go! Frustrating! Mama help!”

    He can’t say any of that. Except he can. I just have to listen.

    Good luck. We’ll all make it, some day. When they’re seven or so…

    • Sarah April 28, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

      “Except he can. I just have to listen.” Exactly! I know she wants to say these thing, but still doesn’t have the tools to express herself fully. We’ll get there one day! Thanks for the support, Christine! It’s nice to know that we are all in this together! ~Sarah

  4. Bruce from Winthrop, Maine April 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    I stumbled onto your blog today as I ponder retirement in Central America. Thank you for sharing your wonderful words and beautiful life there. Enjoy your children, they grow up fast. It’s universal – parenthood goes fast – your kids will do what you’re blogging about in the blink of an eye. My youngest is now 17. I plan to launch her into the world, then retire abroad. Thanks for a wonderful picture of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. I will visit soon.

    • Sarah April 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

      Thanks for your note, Bruce! This has been a wonderful place to raise our daughter so far! If you need more info on Nicaragua, don’t hesitate to contact me again. You can also read more about life here, in general, at my other blog:
      All the best to you!

  5. Justine April 28, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    With my younger girl (11 months today!), I’m surprised at how communicative she is even without words, but something at the back of my mind suspects that it may also because I may be listening more…

    Just like you, I learned that putting away all our adult things to quiet the “white noise” definitely helps us hear the real sounds that are coming out of us. But it’s still not a perfect science is it?

    • Sarah April 29, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

      It’s such an interesting transition from baby to toddler, isn’t it? It seems as if, overnight, they learn all of these new ways to communicate – or like you said – we suddenly start listening more! Thanks for visiting, Justine!

  6. momalomjen April 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    You are taking me back to those days so well (not that I want to relive them, but WELL DONE with the writing!)
    I’m so glad to have found you (or that you found us) and I’ll be back.
    Also. That photo is priceless. 🙂

    • Sarah April 29, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

      Thank you, Jen! I’m happy to have found Momalom and look forward to reading more 🙂

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