Today is Sam's 'half birthday'. As of today he is officially 2 1/2 years old, and as of tomorrow he will be closer to age 3 than age 2. There's a part of me that wants to cry because 3 just seems so old. Then there's a part of me rocking back and forth in a corner praying to just make it to 3 without completely losing my mind. 2 is hard. 2 is really, really hard. 2 is also sweet, and still little enough to snuggle (sometimes), and exciting, and funny. And hard. So hard.
I love my amazing, smart, sweet little boy with all of my heart, but I also stand outside his bedroom every morning and take a HUGE deep breath while praying, "Please let this be a good day. Oh dear God, please let this be a good day.".
On a good day you'll find us happily building towers and cars with his blocks mid-morning. Singing songs, laughing, showing baby Kate different colors... lots and lots of kisses and hugs. Time goes by so quickly and nap time sneaks up on us before we even know what hit us.
On a bad day it's likely that you'll find me locked in the bathroom. One or both (or all 3...) of us will be in tears. I will be doubting my abilities as a mother and counting the slow (oh so very slow) seconds til nap time.
The other day was an epic example of 2. Throw on top of normal '2-ness', molars coming through, just coming home from a visit with both sets of grandparents, hunger, tiredness, and too many days in the house and... well, it was disastrous to say the least. And I am not proud of how I handled it. I yelled. I yelled WAY too much. I yelled for him to stop. I yelled for him to be quiet. I yelled for him to, "Just go and play!", I yelled, "And now you've woken your sister!". There was far.too.much.yelling. My yelling was just making his behavior worse because it was upsetting him, and the worse his behavior got, the more frustrated I got, and the more I yelled. It was a vicious cycle.
So I gave myself a time out. I took a handful of chocolate chips into the bathroom and locked the door. I ate the chocolate, I cried a little, shook a LOT, took several very deep breaths and came out to try again.
So much of mothering a 2 year old is 'trying again'. The lunch he devoured happily yesterday gets a firm, "NO!" today, so we try again. The songs we sang yesterday are no fun today, so we try again. We don't quite make it to the potty in time, so we get new undies and try again. I yell too much, I try again.
After the epic bad day earlier this week, I took a good look at how I've been handling Sam's '2-ness'. I don't think I'm doing a terrible job at all, but I do think I can do better. And then I read a blog post (it will.not.load. on my computer right now so I can't link the actual post, but check out www.theorangerhino.com if you get the chance!) titled '10 Things I Learned When I Stopped Yelling At My Kids'. And it struck a cord. Big time.
So I'm going to make a 'no yelling' pact. Right here right now. I will find other ways to teach Sam right from wrong. I will find other outlets for my frustration. I will recognize when I want to yell just because I'm sleepy, or because I'm tired of answering the same questions, or because I'm frustrated that our plans for the day aren't working out the way I wanted them to. I will raise my voice when it's appropriate, "Stop your feet Sam! No street!" or, "Your dump truck is too close to Kate's head!", but I will NOT yell, "Sam! Just go play!". I will not raise my voice to say, "That's ENOUGH!".
I think there's going to be a LOT of mommy time outs. I'm probably going to consume a LOT of chocolate chips (good thing I'm a runner?). But I think, in the end, this is going to help us through the 'terrible' (I feel bad calling them that sometimes....) 2s. I started the 'no yelling' thing yesterday afternoon through today and it's already been so.much.smoother. Sam isn't all of a sudden a perfectly behaved child (that would be weird anyway...), and I still get incredibly frustrated at times, but just in general, our day is smoother.
So here we go! I'm hoping when I post an update on my 'no yelling pact' in a few weeks that it will be a positive one! And to all the other mamas of 2 year olds out there, this is me giving you a big.gigantic ((((((((hug)))))))). If I could give you some chocolate, I would! (Have you noticed a theme here? I do love chocolate...)