There are toys all over the living room floor. Blankets strewn about. An unruly toddler climbing everything she isn’t supposed to be climbing. All I can hear is whining. While this unfolds around me I am doing deep breathing exercises to try and contain my frustration… and I have to tell you, it really isn’t working. I feel a strong need to scream or punch an inanimate object rising from within me. In this moment I will admit it, because I am not ashamed – Sometimes I don’t have the patience for parenthood!
When my daughter has thrown herself to the ground for the 67th time in a 2 hour span and is flailing because she hasn’t napped that day and has been whining non-stop at anything and everything – I am not happy. I am frustrated. I am annoyed. I do not feel that being frustrated or annoyed by these types of situations is a bad thing or anything at all to feel guilt or shame over. I think that makes me a human being with emotions and with limits. There are only so many things I can try before I have reached my limit, and I feel like my limit comes quickly, perhaps more quickly than it does for others.
I understand that toddlers throw tantrums, that’s just what they do. Toddlers do not yet understand their emotions or surroundings like older children or adults would. I understand that we need to be more patient with them because they will be upset over things that seem absolutely ridiculous to us. Yes, I indeed comprehend all of that, and it is put into practice in our home. When our daughter is crying because she can’t understand how to play the harmonica, I obviously don’t yell – I urge her to try again. I show her how mommy does it. I teach her how to blow air from her mouth. She may not grasp it right away and she may get upset, but it is a moment that is teachable.
Those are absolutely the moments where our children need us to be understanding, patient, and nurturing. But those are NOT the moments I am talking about. I am talking about the tornadoes.
I truly challenge any parent who claims they’ve never once lost their temper because of their toddler to really think hard about it. Maybe you were able to leave the room before Mount Momsuvius erupted. Maybe you were able to take a few seconds to count to ten, take a deep breath, and re-approach. Whatever the case may be, it is normal. It is human. And it does NOT make you a bad mother. Losing your patience because of your toddler is NO reason to feel guilty.
Now let me be very clear – I’m NOT advocating physically laying a hand on your child. I am not saying you should yell or scream at them – they will not understand why you are doing so. But what I AM saying is if you feel yourself unravelling at the seams, you are not alone. If you need to put Caillou on TV and lock yourself in the bathroom to have FIVE SECONDS of peace to yourself, or to scream into a towel, you are not alone. Don’t let any internet movements or declarations of peaceful parenting make you feel guilty for being human. Peaceful parenting doesn’t mean you never lose your cool. In fact, the peaceful parenting approach encourages you to do whatever you need to do (away from the child) to re-align your emotions so you can speak to them in a respectful tone. But the raging mommy wars will make you feel bad regardless.
I knew this was a topic I wanted to write about because there are only so many quotes and articles floating around the internet about peaceful parenting that you can take before you feel like the crappiest parent on the planet. I knew that if I was feeling this way that there was bound to be someone else who felt the same. It is impossible not to lose your cool sometimes when you have a toddler. I want to assure you that you are not alone.
Yes, I am admitting to you all that there is only so much I can take. I am admitting I am far from perfect. Pristine patience is not a virtue I possess. I could have told you I wasn’t an incredibly patient person before I ever had a baby. I knew it would be a challenge. I knew what I was getting into. And no, I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.
Your strength is not found in your ability to keep your cool 24/7. Your strength is found in moments where you feel like everything is out of control. Your strength is found in those moments of weakness because those are the times where you are pulling yourself up with the weakest arms, admitting you aren’t at your best, and working to improve.
I know how lucky I am because I have a happy and healthy daughter, and for the majority of the time everything is wonderful, and we are so greatly blessed. But let me tell you… my marbles are long, long gone. If I drank wine I’d be raising up a big glass to all my fellow impatient mamas, because I am right there with you!