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.

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Kym
Kym
13 years ago

I hear ya!! I do day care and have 3 BOY’S of my own, so I never get a break from that!

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
13 years ago

I can hardly remember when my boy was at that stage. I do remember the kicking during diaper changes and getting so frustrated with him. I remember him flinging his body back when I would pick him up. I have no patience whatsoever, but somehow I got through it all. My husband and I discussed having another child when Eric was at that stage and I said no way.

Kirsten
13 years ago

You said it. And I only have one…could be why I can’t imagine the second one at this stage of the game.
I need to know more about the clapping thing though because I have a major cougher/gagger/barfer over here and it’s become a big problem. I put him in his crib to sleep and he immediately starts in. Bummer

hilary
hilary
13 years ago

Oh, I know. What I do now is get frustrated with the baby and then bark at the 3 1/2 year old. How fair is that? Poor girl. It’s so much HARDER with two. It’s like you got a promotion but still have all the responsibilities of the old job. Hang in there, girl.

Lori
Lori
13 years ago

I think people who have kids are so brave. I know I could not handle it, not for a moment, so I’m doing the world a favor and not having any. For what it’s worth, I think you’re doing a great job!

Alison (aka Cluck and Tweet)

Oh, there are a lot of parenting experts. Just ask them. Or look their way when your child is acting less than perfect. I threw temper tantrums when I was a wee lass (last year or so) and I like to think that I got it out of my system because I’m quite thoroughly enjoyable as an adult. Just ask me.

Heidi
Heidi
13 years ago

My favorite saying for parenthood to date. “It never gets easier, just different.” The more we add, the more they grow. All just different. If only rasing chidlren was a “skill set” We can ALL learn different skills. Somehow with two children 20 months apart, I have yet to learn how to keep calm, cool and collected in the middle of these kicking screaming movie style tatrums! WTF.

dorrie
dorrie
13 years ago

Dude, I hear ya. You have those boys pretty close together and it can be ROUGH…hang in. Just keep em alive!

racher
13 years ago

God Almighty am I glad you wrote this post today. I just sat down on the couch to take a break from trying to put my 6 month old down from a nap. (She is wailing in the other room) and a few minutes ago I was having a Very Stern Conversation with my four year old about how we don’t open the door to strangers when Mommy is otherwise occupied. And the whole time I’m thinking “When will I get this down? When?” It is good and also awful to know that the answer is “Never.”

Anne
13 years ago

You know, I find the idea that it doesn’t get easier for you or the other commenters above me strangely comforting. Because that means it is okay to have off-days, off-weeks, parenting FAIL moments, and times you want to sell your child to the nearest circus. Life and child-rearing isn’t perfect, and it doesn’t have to be.

God, I have to stop typing now. I’m starting to sound like a daily affirmation. “You’re good enough; you’re smart enough; and gosh darn-it, people like you!” (KILL ME NOW.) (Or just pass me a martini, whichever.)

Jess
Jess
13 years ago

AHHHH – How can the majority of your posts make me both LAUGH and CRY…You are truly a gifted writer.
Your posts are so meaningful to me because I also have a 3 yr old boy and a 17 month old. I’m new to a small town and have yet to find many friends nearby with younger kids…so I don’t have a whole lot of other mothers to share experiences with raising kids. Yet, there have been SO MANY times, like with this post, that you so perfectly describe what I’m going through…
Thank you for your posts…I can’t WAIT until you write a book…..

Sassy
Sassy
13 years ago

That I don’t have this, the essential and required patience for parenting, is why I wonder if things are working out they way they are meant to for me, and that I may likely be passed the age of having my own kids. My hat’s off to you. And you are a rock star at it from what I can gather, so color yourself awesome.

Hillary
13 years ago

We’re all faking it. We just have to fool the kids. Don’t you remember looking at your parents and wondering when you’d have it so together? When you’d know everything? The boys think you’re super woman.

Katherine
13 years ago

There are so many “mommy blogs” out there that make parenting sound like the most blissful thing ever. But I have to say, I relate to this post like no other. I want to be patient with my two year old. But if he dumps his Cheerios out or pees on the floor one. more. time. I really might lose it.

Someone Being Me
13 years ago

OMG. I so needed to read this post today. I feel like I have been in the trenches of toddlerhood for too long and yet my son is only 2 1/4 years old. I look at my 5 week old and I am afraid, very afraid. Why does everything have to be such a struggle with a toddler?

Kristin
13 years ago

This was a very interesting post to read. I am due in two months with my second child (my son is 2 and a half), and all of my concerns have been about how I’m going to deal with my current toddler’s behavior when the baby comes. It kind of never occured to me that the baby would cause problems too…I feel like you just seriously burst my bubble! Somehow I was thinking that well, I’ve gone through this age with one kid and I know how to handle it, no problem. It greatly saddens me to think this may not be the case. I am going to assume that my brain will return to normal soon.

Ash
Ash
13 years ago

I think I remember reading you are also “a friend of Bill”. Those mantras apply to all realms of lif… they really continue to help me, now in different places and different ways.

Angelique
Angelique
13 years ago

Wow. I just screamed at my two year old because he was screaming non-stop when I told him “no, you can’t do that because it’s not safe”. I kept trying to put him in another room so I could catch a break, and he kept following me. I know he’s tired and I’m tired, but how do you break the terrible cycle when the child won’t leave you alone? Why does it seem like my friends never raise their voices at their kids? Maybe I need some different friends.

Helen
13 years ago

I have 6 kids, oldest is 23, youngest 5…I have nothing to say that will make you feel any better. I knew so much more before I had kids. It’s pretty great when they are grown up and glorious and you can feel all smug whilst secretly thinking that was a happy accident!

Sarah
Sarah
13 years ago

Sing it, sister. I spent my entire morning with an overtly naughty kid saying “Get down NOW!”, “Get off NOW!”, “Come here NOW!”, “Out NOW!”. It’s fucking exhausting is what it is.

Becky
Becky
13 years ago

THANK YOU! I so needed this today…especially after last night and the attempt at wranglin’ my very own Toddler DeathStar this morning. Last night was the swatting food away…and getting seriously pissed that he could not eat the dog food. And this morning with the kicking while I am trying to wipe a poopy butt. Seriously..a HUGE thank you Linda!

Swistle
13 years ago

It’s because children are TOTAL PAINS IN THE ASS.

danielle
danielle
13 years ago

I’d like to know, when is it my turn to throw myself to the ground and scream about the unfairness of it all?

Jackie
13 years ago

I feel your pain and I only have one who is barely a year old and he has the “tantrum gift”. What is the problem with getting a diaper changed? I just don’t understand. One minute you have a smiling laughing little boy who will even sit nicely with you and play with a bracelet, coaster, whatever is relatively safe and within reach but try to give that same item to him while you change his diaper in a poor attempt to distract him for a few minutes and you have a screaming, writhing beast. I. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

Brenna
Brenna
13 years ago

man, nothing makes me want to lovingly drop-kick my little darling more than the pinching.

babelbabe
babelbabe
13 years ago

You are singing my song. I am so with you, I could cry. And often do.

BellyGirl
13 years ago

How did I not know ANY of the three of these handy little tricks? Dude, I demote myself to status of toad-like parent.

Kate
13 years ago

Kids are all different and while they may all throw the same tantrums and have the same behaviors at the same stage, the triggers and solutions are different. Their personalities are different. We as parents are different from one kid to the next. There’s just nothing ever that is the same, not between one child to the next, not from one family to the next. We all just do the best we can.

beach
beach
13 years ago

Hang in there…..this too shall pass…

haitian-american family of three

Today as we drove from France to Spain with a SCREAMING 2.5 year old in the back seat I looked at my husband and said, never, ever, again! No more kids and no more road trips with a toddler!

Audubon Ron
13 years ago

Ahh, it reads to me you’re doing alright. You got this under control. You’re just a little frustrated right now. You’re pretty much in or right near amazing individual status. All you need now is a mobile…and a cape…and a mask…a mobile, a cape and mask…and letters on your suit of armor “A&S.” I’ll call Michelle Pfieffer and tell her she needs to stand down. There’s a new sheriff in town.

Melissa D.
Melissa D.
13 years ago

I am going through the same situation and the past few days have been pure hell. Both kids were screaming at me at the same time today and I had just had it. They were both buckled safely in their carseats in the garage so I calmly walked into the basement, shut the door behind me, and screamed at the top of my lungs. Walked back to the car and we went out and had a pleasant afternoon. I know it was an childish thing to do but I absolutely had to get it out. I have been so frustrated by the whining and screaming and complete shitfits everyone has been having and I had to just scream. Amazingly, it worked wonders for my attitude.

Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com

I love that someone up there said they knew so much more before they had kids. Sometimes I wonder if that’s what I’ll feel like in eight weeks when I have my first.

I’m pretty sure that’s what I’ll feel like when I have a second.

Cookie
13 years ago

I feel like that every day. It seems like it gets harder with Gabe, too. He keeps asking questions I can’t answer. And the questions never stop. Or his absolute certainty that he does not like a food he’s never had before, or he doesn’t like a food that even the pickiest child would probably eat (grilled cheese sandwich, any one?).

Nick is just now starting the tantrums, and they are beyond frustrating. No, you can’t electrocute yourself – reaction: throw myself on the floor and scream. No, you can’t play with knives – reaction: throw myself on the floor and scream. How on earth do they survive this age?

Jill
13 years ago

Amen, Sister.

Casey
13 years ago

No, not easier. Not in the least.

Perhaps learning is one thing and changing is another. One is easier…guess which? I still succumb to fits of angered impatience (the kamakaze diaper changes come to mind), and always regret my flaring temper, even if it just means I used my LOUD VOICE. And then sometimes, I am filled with…”Serenity Now” for lack of a better phrase, during the same scenario. I’m not sure whether to blame it on the zodiac, my sleep intake or my blood sugar level at the time.

warcrygirl
13 years ago

Wow, I completely forgot about the gut kick during diaper changes and the flopping arched-back head crash into the nearest hard object. Thanks for bringing it all back!

nancy
nancy
13 years ago

Oh, oh, oh thank you. What a morning we had here and maybe I’m not the most horrible mother on the planet after all.
We’ll both live another day and maybe tomorrow our kids will delight more than frustrate. Deep sigh.

Jill
13 years ago

You are absolutely right about this job being humbling. I find myself breezing through the “things” that happen on a daily basis — the tantrums I can handle OK, the 4yo shitting his pants once a week doesn’t phase me. But the attitude and the whining, holy crap on a cracker, I just lose my mind. And I have decided it’s because it’s all just so counter intuitive. Whining doesn’t help in any situation and neither does a snarky attitude from a 4yo. Also, screaming from an 18 month old capable of communicating (but not walking, ha!) does him no good whatsoever. And yet they insist on doing it. Over and over and over and over and over and over and… you get the picture. If they would just listen to us. Take our word for it. Just once! Their lives would be much better. But nooooooo… they have to go and grow up on their own and learn lessons on their own and all of that nonsense. Which is, of course, ultimately for the best, but more than a little excruciating for the parents in the process. At this point, I literally wonder DAILY how my mom didn’t stick me in a box and ship me to China at some point because you know she considered it… or at least I have… and she still likes me today, so I have to believe it’s all worth it. Somehow. Someday. Right? Pass the wine please!

MommyNamedApril
13 years ago

i actually tend to feel like i have LESS patience with the second one. i find myself thinking – come ON, been here, done this, move on already kid. which, duh, he HASN’T been there or done that…

Angella
13 years ago

I’m on kid number three and I still have no idea what I’m doing.

Maybe by the time they’re eighteen?

Leah
13 years ago

More than once I’ve said out loud to the household (i.e., baby and cats), “I have no patience to deal with you people today.” As if cats and babies are people. Heh. The frightening thing is that I know it only gets harder from here.

wordygirl
13 years ago

My sister, a mother of two boys(age 6 and 3) had the exact same complaint. “I’ve been doing this for six years, how come I’m not any good at it? At any other job they would have fired me if it took six years to get any good!” Well, I told her in my INFINITE wisdom, there’s no other job that changes so constantly. Riley doesn’t need the same parenting now as he did three months ago, so it’s essentially NOT the same job.

So, you know, don’t beat yourself up.

Laura, Adequate Mother since 2008

Courtney
13 years ago

heh, Deadwood pig pen.

As I’m not a mom, I have no wonderful advice for you, but I can say, as always, thanks for not blowing sunshine up my ass about something that is really HARD! And I’m going to go take my birth control now…

Amy
Amy
13 years ago

I don’t have kids, but the pinching thing, I think, would be the one most apt to elicit the “oh HELL NO” response. I tip my hat to you moms, esp ones who are honest about the hard parts.

shriek house
13 years ago

Recently during an especially low parenting moment (actually wondering if I could rig a tranquilizer dart, I mean actually) I asked my mom how SHE did it. “You were always calm, never got mad, never yelled, why can’t I be like you were???”

She laffed and laffed and laffed. GUFFAWED. Full bore. I can’t tell you how much better I felt. Same as reading your post, thank you for being so damned funny and excruciatingly TRUE both.

Anya  Paull
13 years ago

I REALLY needed this today, Gracias. All of the responses make me feel a bit more normal, like there are so many kindred spirits out there once I peek out from under the shame spiral of mom-ness I feel trapped in lately. Yesterday my 2yr old threw a medical-grade tantrum in Target, two people actually approached me and asked if they could “call someone for me”, like that would help. I was seriously looking around for the Nanny 911 cameras or a CNN undercover sting on horrible parents. Once I got both of us to the car, I sobbed. THEN did it all over again this morning when god-forbid I try and get the kiddo out of the house for his over-priced once a week music class. I actually sunk to the low of calling the husband at work, first time ever, sobbing saying “I can’t do this, can’t do this, can’t do this” while trying to stop myself from carving out my eyeballs with a melon baller. I think the worst of it, is the dull ache I feel in my chest after each tantrum, like the feeling when you have a nasty fight with a boyfriend, close friend or spouse, like you are insanely doing everything horribly wrong. ‘Cause of course, it is always YOUR fault, ugh! Anyway, thanks for topic, the responses have mellowed the ache a bit. for today anyway :-)

Katy
Katy
13 years ago

I had one of those days yesterday. My darling, darling pumpkin of a boy is 2 and a half and an absolute evil terror. He spent all day following me around, whining and then throwing an enormous tantrum when I wouldn’t follow his very specific instructions. It makes me want to scream but I settle for shouting and slamming doors. A healthy example to set!

Maria
13 years ago

I’ve had plenty of those OMG I can’t take it anymore moments, akin to being smack in the Bell Jar. The good news, is that it does seems to come in waves. I may feel like I’m going insane on a daily basis and just can’t deal, but then one of my two will do something cute to raise my spirits to turn things around for a spell. So, yeah…pretty much right there with you.

Joy
Joy
13 years ago

Thank you again for putting into words exactly how I feel!