You’d think that once you were on your second child you would become, if not exactly a parenting expert (can there really be such a thing? I say no), at least upgraded from your status of rank amateur. If I did anything else day in and day out for years on end I’d probably be pretty awesome at it—I mean, just look how I can breathe and eat and shit without a second thought—but this kid-wrangling business? NEVER STOPS KICKING MY ASS.

This morning has been nothing but an endless stretch of meltdowns from Dylan and I’m so frustrated with him and I’m even more frustrated with myself for BEING so frustrated. I know this is a stage, and it’s not like we didn’t experiece the exact same things with Riley: the suicidal tendencies, the screaming, the frenzied temper tantrums, the arched-back flopping. It seems like I should have learned some goddamned coping skills by now, yet I still find myself at the frayed end of my barely-there rope on an hourly basis, staring at my beloved boy and thinking I. JUST. CAN’T. DEAL. WITH. YOU.

I’m frustrated by the angry food-swatting, kicking me during diaper changes, shrieking because a toy is out of reach, pinching me because I’ve picked him up out of some harmful situation, flinging himself backwards onto his head then howling because duhhhhh it huuuurts. These are things that toddlers do, I know this, and I know it’s just part of the job to get through these unpleasant moments, preferably without merrily tossing your child into the Deadwood pigpen, but man, I just wish I had the sense that I was getting better at this.

I feel like I’ve gained all these little skills of lesser importance, like knowing how to cover my hand over a child’s fingers while pulling on a sleeve so their pinky doesn’t get bent back or clapping loudly when a baby is cough-gagging so they’re startled out of their Barf Process or cookie-cuttering a pancake into a star for a picky eater, but where are my deeper wells of patience? Where is my ability to manage a difficult situation without feeling as though the world is coming apart at the seams? Where is my innate knowledge that while we may be in the suck now, the pendulum always swings the other way?

This job is humbling, in every way possible. I thought it would be easier the second time around, but no. It is often times more fun, less scary, and maybe even more indescribably wonderful, but not easier. Not at all.


78 Responses to “Needs improvement”

  1. Kim on May 21st, 2009 5:34 am

    Humbling. That’s the perfect word to describe parenthood. Thanks.

  2. Elizabeth on May 21st, 2009 6:07 am

    I have a one year old and nearly 3 year old and know completely what you mean! At times it feels like they intentionally tag team cry/whine and it does get so frustrating. I’ve learned the only thing I can do is walk away, because virtually nothing I say or do seems to make it better. Whenever we can, my husband and I try to switch off in the moment of craziness to give the other person a sanity break. Not always possible, but man does it help!

  3. Claire on May 21st, 2009 6:08 am

    It’s interesting to me how, day to day, I feel differently about it all. Some days I can handle all that stuff better, for longer. And on others, I feel so incredibly bereft of the patience and will to carry on. I ride my son’s mood swings as much as my own, I suppose.

  4. Kim S. on May 21st, 2009 6:10 am

    Toddlers are evil. They are the cutest damn creatures with their chubby cheeks and drooling smiles and cute little babbling songs. They lure you in. Then they kick you in the nuts.

    I feel your pain. Times two. My twin girls just turned two, and this next year may just break me.

  5. Erin on May 21st, 2009 6:21 am

    I really needed this today, too. My 12mo old has just started throwing mini-tantrums, combined with walking around the house pulling at my legs whining and crying. He’s also stopped napping, which means even more whining, screaming, and tantrums. DH is gone almost all the time – works not only all day but also one day on the weekend and most evenings. We just moved and I don’t know anyone here. So every day feels like a series of parental FAILS for me. Like I’m just trying to get from one moment to the next, forget trying to you know teach the little guy anything (he doesn’t speak yet). I wish all of my moods weren’t wrapped around the ToddlerDeathstar. When he’s happy, I’m happy and love being a mom, when he’s going through a looooong stretch of evil I feel like running away from home and can’t believe how little patience I have. Oh, the little angel has discovered kicking during diaper changes – this makes me *berserk*, esp. when said diaper is poopy. Yesterday he seems to have figured out he can kick ME too.

  6. patois on May 21st, 2009 6:32 am

    Said like a true mommy. Here’s hoping for a quick exit from this stage of development.

  7. Jakki on May 21st, 2009 6:40 am

    and just when you breathe that sigh of relief that you’ve finally managed and got through the toddler years…..

    along come the teenage years….


  8. Merrily on May 21st, 2009 6:50 am

    I feel ya Girlfriend. Hardest job in the world.

  9. Tara on May 21st, 2009 7:28 am

    You had me at the Deadwood pigpen reference.

    You’re absolutely right–it doesn’t get easier, just different. And thanks to all that is holy, some of the “different” is super-awesome, which helps to make up for some of the colossal suckitude.

  10. Jaidnoire on May 21st, 2009 7:40 am

    Thank you for posting this and all of the readers for chiming in.

    The Boy is 20mths. When the whining, leg-clinging and throwing of tantrums gets to that magic point where ones vision starts to blur, one feels very alone.

    It makes it so much easier to know that one is not….

    ps. planning for the next one early 2010. Pray for me….

  11. Tiffanny on May 21st, 2009 7:44 am

    I totally agree with you. I often feel as though I completely suck at being a Mom. Then, they kiss you and say they love you out of the blue and it’s totally worth every second of crap you just endured.

  12. Val on May 21st, 2009 9:06 am

    Don’t you just want to toss him in a padded room for a few months??? I only have furkids. I’d visit my BFF and I thought her kids were either (a)dying or (b)killing each other at this stage. She had two 10 months apart. She practiced the perfect art of tuning out. I never managed such a feat. I’d leave her house with the feeling that I made the right decision – no single motherhood for me. In my mid-30s, when the clock ticked, I’d go for a visit. The clock had it’s battery removed by the time I left the house.

  13. Anonymous on May 21st, 2009 9:30 am

    I had a major meltdown last weekend *after which my husband accused me of being bi-polar* because my almost two year old threw his food on the floor… business as usual but I am SO FREAKIN TIRED of cleaning food up off the floor. I have a three year old and a two year old and i need a freakin BREAK from the sweeping and mopping already!

  14. The Informal Matriarch on May 21st, 2009 10:14 am

    Wine, lots of wine. Get it by the bucketful. And duct tape.

  15. Maggie on May 21st, 2009 10:27 am

    Oh my god do I hear ya! Every night before bed I promise myself that tomorrow I will be the picture of calm and patient and not yell at my kids and by about oh 7am it is all shot to hell. Ugh.

  16. Ilana on May 21st, 2009 11:16 am

    Oh amen sister. I’ve got two girls (3 and 2) and the little little is in the head banging stage. She’ll find the hardest, most pain enducing area possible and crash her cranium into it repeatedly. For. No. God. Damn. Reason. My new mantra, “I will not kill my child. I will not kill my child. Screw excellent parenting, I WILL be reasonably decent parent.” Lowering the bar. Works wonders.

  17. Laura on May 21st, 2009 11:39 am

    God do I feel you, especially today. My 2 year old has been just full of himself and it is making me crazy. Crazy to the point that when he threw a full bottle of peanut oil out of the cart today I seriously considered how I could sell him on the human body parts black market. Then I got to experience the joy of the guilt trip for thinking those things when he gave me a hug and a kiss and said “Thank you Momma” when I gave him his lunch. Toddlers thy name is CRAZY.

    BTW, loved the “Clockwork Orange” reference on one of your tweets yesterday. Keep that up and I may become a weird stalker desperate to befriend you.

  18. GingerB on May 21st, 2009 1:21 pm

    People, this is why I go to work. I am paying some one to let my slightly feverish cough til you puke three year old scream because the table bumped her on the head. Or the shoe hurt her foot. Or whatever. I suck at least as much as all of you, but I don’t have to do it all day. Heh-heh.

    This clap when they cough thing? Made my day. I can use this one . . . see, my blog reading really isn’t a waste of time, honey! Today rocks. Sorry yesterday sucked for you.

  19. wendy wisniewski on May 21st, 2009 1:56 pm

    Blahahahah. Deadwood pigpen. That’s one I’m gonna have to steal and use for my guys. My other half will howl and the kids won’t get it. Perfection.

  20. Kathy on May 21st, 2009 2:10 pm

    My daughter, the youngest of four, is two. I’m still waiting to be good at this whole parenting gig, too.

    Right now, I’d give ANYTHING to be able to go to the bathroom by myself. Either she’s in the bathroom with me “You go pee on potty, mommy? Are you poopy, mommy? Ew!” or she stands outside the bathroom door, screeching to be allowed in. And then SHE has the flush the toilet.

  21. Jasie VanGesen on May 21st, 2009 2:16 pm


    This is SO me. I could have written this, except that I only have one child (the universe is smart like that, not putting me in charge of more), and he is 8 now… I have never learned to cope. Everyday, every hour, every minute is a struggle to know simply how to deal.

    I envy the parents who are relaxed and let things slide off their backs, or who have kids that don’t cause them to pull their hair out in the first place… but then I laugh at those parents. We’ve been through the fire, we’re tough, we rock. Even if we didn’t learn a damn thing along the way… we fucking survived.

  22. Brenna on May 21st, 2009 3:00 pm

    I too cannot stand the kicking during diaper changes. It freakin HURTS! Lately I have been keeping a book on the changing table and every time we change a diaper, I hand it to him. I have about 1 minute of distraction time. Better change that diaper fast!!

  23. Carrot Cake on May 21st, 2009 5:59 pm

    It’s thoughts like these (of my own) that makes me wonder if we should stop at one kid. I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing most of the time and I’m afraid I’m messing him up by being the uptight parent.

  24. Terri on May 21st, 2009 6:15 pm

    Holy crap, woman. I am right there with you today!! I thought I had infinte patience myself, but today pushed me further than I though possible.

    I only have one so far, but my daughter is teething– no wait it gets better. Its not just one tooth comming in, no shes a late teether. It gets better, its 4 AT ONCE!!

    I seriously wanted to sell her little butt on eBay for a bit today. Okay, not really I love her more than anything, but she did have me in tears twice today.

    While I wish you and your cuties nothing but bliss, it made me feel better knowing someoen else is going through the same crap ;)

  25. Leah on May 22nd, 2009 5:55 am

    While I work full time so it’s a necessity, I fully find daycare for the 16 month-old and preschool for the 4 year-old a way to break up the times between alligator-diaper changes and 4 yo defiances, meltdowns, or other life grievances. It keeps me a fresher parent, able to enjoy them more and tolerate the crap a little better-that said, they can drive you insane (I also have the luxury of therapy). On another note, my husband and I recently took a mini parenting workshop that left us feeling hopeful that we can strike a better balance in our family-speaker was way funny and strategies made sense to us, so we’re trying to adopt it, though habits are hard to break… Anyway, it’s:

    Good luck!

  26. Casey on May 23rd, 2009 8:47 pm

    We’re in the middle of hell over here right now and I’m feeling similarly helpless. I don’t know when it gets better but we’re barely holding on over here. And why the hell do kids throw themselves backwards? We had both kids pull that shit in the bathtub tonight and it was not pretty.

  27. Apryl on May 23rd, 2009 11:19 pm

    Funny but the elder never tantrumed…sure he beat the shit out of me, kicked me in the knees repeatedly, and was totally against any form of sleep at night. (That’s not to say that he’s not without his faults HAHA).

    Then I got the newer model…he back arches, hands to his face, face to the floor, hitting, kicking, screaming ‘noooooooooooo’ at the top of his lungs.

    His happy ass spent about 4 minutes in his crib when I snagged his tantruming hiney out of the shower dried him briefly and tossed him (ever so gently) into his crib turned out the light and shut his door.

    I went in 4 minutes later when I heard the screaming die down and said are you done? He nodded yes. It was so fucking worth it just to see him tell me he was done. LOL (He’s 22mos BTW).

  28. Josh on May 24th, 2009 7:41 am

    This is going to sound like a joke, but it’s actually not. Has anyone ever made some kind of mild shock collar for children? Obviously you would need at least a full strength one by the time they hit five or so, but certainly for toddler you would think a mild electric shock to the neck ought to remind them that kicking whilst poo is around is not cool. Although, now that I think about it, that would probably be illegal.

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