Parenting a Toddler is Like Raising Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

My oldest son, Charlie, is four and a half years old. He is both a challenge and a blessing. He makes me laugh and cringe all within a two minute span. He is rough and tough and then a minute later he is my sweet little boy who lets me cuddle and kiss him. How does this happen?  Why is he like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? He seems to be in the ‘In Between’ stage. Not a toddler and not a big boy. He does not nap, but is exhausted by the end of the day. He will eat three pieces of toast and peanut butter for breakfast in two minutes flat, but thinks actual peanuts alone are ‘disgusting’. 

I constantly shake my head at his antics and laugh. Then I get frustrated a second later. Sometimes I wonder what is going on in his head. This is the only kind of relationship that it is accepted and really expected that women go back time after time. It is an emotional roller coaster and I often don’t know what to make of it.

Here is what I think: he wants total independence. He wants to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and I don’t blame him. I know I hate it when someone tries to boss me around. At the end of the day he still needs his mama. And I realize that everyday. I have learned to try to pick my battles with him and let him choose as much as I can.

I am a type A mom . . . I am the first to admit it. I like things just ‘so’. But to make our life easier and run a little smother I have loosened my grip on a few things. For example I let him choose what he wears (within reason) and I let him choose vegetable he eats at dinner (this one is sneaky . . . green beans? Sure!!  Broccoli? You can have as much as you want!)

So what do I do when I feel like I’m about to lose it? There are a couple of things that have worked for me:

First, if he is having a ‘moment’ I just let him have it. In my opinion he has every right to feel the way he feels. I don’t care if I am at home or the checkout line at Target. As long as he’s not hurting anyone the stares don’t bother me. But, I also don’t give into him. I will give him a hug if he wants, but if I said no to something, he’s not getting it.

Second, I follow through with consequences. If he’s had his warning and still was out of line I will follow through with the punishment. He needs to know l mean business.

Third, I try to take a moment for myself. A mommy time-out of sorts. I get upset too, but, I don’t want him to feel like I am angry at him. It is more of the situation. Three minutes in my bedroom with the door closed can work wonders. I can put the baby in the crib, Charlie in his room and take my moment to cool down.  

Do I really keep my cool every time it happens? Heck no! I’ve lost it many times. But, I am trying to learn from my mistakes too.  I have to keep reminding myself that while being a mommy is hard, being a little kid is hard too. At the end of the day when I put him to bed I often hear these words: “Mommy, I love you.  You are my best princess ever.” My. Heart. In. A. Million. Pieces. And that is why we do this day after day.  We love, we forgive and know that at least something we are doing is going right.

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