Everybody loves babies. Babies are cute, they smell nice, and they don’t move too much. My babies were snuggly and although they didn’t sleep well/ever they were so cuddly and beautiful that it was okay to be completely sleep deprived.
Then they started to grow. Now we have these two monstrous two year olds.
I’ve literally never met someone who has said “I want a two year old.” It’s always, “I want a baby”. But when you get a baby you eventually get a two year old, or in my case, two of them.
Now the wonderful part of having two year olds is they still mostly smell good. In my case they are still cuddle bugs. They say the cutest things like, “Got Mama,” as they squeeze my cheeks together and nuzzle my nose with theirs. They yell “Babe” when they can’t find my wife because they know it will make me laugh when they call her the name I call her. And they say it more like “Bayy” and try to mimic my voice. They are starting to sing songs and they point out the moon and the stars and the sun as if seeing them for the first time making me appreciate the things I take for granted. They also look at me like I am their entire world and I treasure those moments because I know in just a fleeting few years they will push me away when I try to kiss them. They will prefer their friends over me, and I know there will be a time when we cuddle up for the last time and that literally brings me to tears.
But the flip side of the heaven of two year olds is the Hell. The wanting to scream as I say things like “Don’t…bite, hit, lick, pull, follow, yell at, run into, run over, glue, color on, paint….your brother,” “Don’t slam the door,” “Don’t open the door,” “Throw that away,” “Pick that up off the floor,” “If you….do anything ever again….you will go to timeout,” “Don’t dance in front of the fireplace,” “Don’t push him in front of the fireplace,” “Why did we buy a house with a damn fireplace?” “Don’t put your foot in that…” shit.
Then you try and get them to say something and they won’t, then you swear in front of them when you drop a piece of firewood on your toe and of course they say “Shit.” Like perfectly enunciated. And yes I had a broken toe. Then the boys talked about “Mama’s boo boo” for the entire six weeks it took to heal.
Getting them out the door is a total shitshow. My wife says “It’s like herding cats.” And it really is. I’m always talking to them, always asking them to do stuff, and always trying to allow them to grow in their independence but seriously you can’t get your shoe on without my help and we are running late so give me the damn shoe.
They test my patience and my ability to not swear on a minute by minute basis. I go to work in psychiatry and my job is literally easier than my two year old twin boys. They are both so smart and they both totally try and play me. And sometimes it works.
I started to really pay attention to the new mom’s who come see me in my practice. Not just the fresh postpartum mom’s but the toddler Mom’s. For anyone who is a butch lesbian, when you see another butch lesbian there’s usually this head nod of acknowledgement. It always kind of irritates me because my wife gets the head nod and I never do, and I’m like hi over here, I’m also married to a woman but because I have long hair and cleavage I don’t get the recognition…anyway. When I have a client who is a toddler mom, not even twins but maybe a 3 year old and a 1 year old or something like that, and then I tell her I have twin two year olds….we have that moment. That, “Gotchya girl.” Like we are in the battlefield together and we know what it is really like down there in the trenches.
I’ve had Mom’s break down in front of me hysterical because they feel like failures because they yelled at their kids and they get so mad at them sometimes they want to hit them (they don’t hit them) and they look so ashamed and so sad and full of self loathing when they tell me these confessions through tears. That’s usually when I disclose I have two year olds. That I too know the pain of toddlers. That our society lives on Facebook and pretty images that mom’s should be these superheroes who never lose our shit, when in reality it would be weird if toddlers didn’t bring you to the brink of insanity at least once a day.
I reassure my clients (of course after a thorough assessment that they actually are not a danger to others) that actually what they are experiencing is normal. That it certainly doesn’t feel good, and they may need a medication trial, or at the least therapy, but that toddlers push us in ways we couldn’t possibly have imagined. That toddlers can literally make us feel bipolar because we are so in love with them one second and the next we are hauling them off to time-out about to watch an epic tantrum.
No one wants two year olds. Because two year olds start to make shit real. They start to be little people who make us feel in ways we never imagined we would or could.
I’m not a perfect Mom. I lose my shit. I swear. I listen to Eminem in the car when I just can’t take one more round of Let it Go. But even if I never said I wanted a two year old I’m so glad I have them. I am completely head over heels for my boys. They are making me a better person. They make me more aware of my anger and cues for when I am getting worked up. They make me practice patience. So much patience I could choke on it. They make me stop and look at the moon. They make me say “I’m sorry” and give big hugs when I freak out and I know I’m wrong because it was my fault for running late not theirs. They’ve made me better at time management. They’ve made me figure out how to communicate differently because going head on was not working and just hurting us all. They make me learn how to set age appropriate boundaries and consequences and follow through on them.
I thought having newborns made me love in a new way, little did I know what toddlerhood had in store for me. They exploit all my vulnerabilities without intention. They see books and movies with Dad’s and being married to a woman I wonder what they are thinking about. Are they already starting to wonder about not having a Dad? Does it even enter their heads?
No one asks for toddlers, and I certainly wouldn’t wish two of them on anyone. But on the flip side they are making me a better woman and honestly a better psychiatric provider. I am so much more empathetic to mom’s of toddlers. I get it. I give them space to feel like a bad mom and reinforce to them that they actually are not bad mom’s. They are just human trying to navigate this incredible journey of parenthood.
I’ll end with this. Our kids are always watching us, learning from us, becoming us. I will never be sorry or regret hugging them too much or cuddling too much. I will never regret the time I spend with them now and the bonds we are forging together. Toddlers have the ability to make you face and embrace love, anger, frustration, patience, and every other good and bad part of yourself. Enjoy the journey because it is all too short.