My Mom-Fail Turned My Toddlers Into Teachers

emotional intelligence  positive parenting 

By Ashley Patek

My Mom-Fail Turned My Toddlers Into Teachers

This parenting gig is one of the hardest. And lately, I am struggling. Can anyone hear my SOS? 

My house is in disarray, and so is my headspace.

My to-do list is long, and my patience is short

And I have lost track of the number of tears and tantrums, both theirs and mine. 

I had just called my mom and uttered these words: “I need a break… I need more time in the day to manage all the moving parts… I feel like I can’t keep up with life right now…” 

Fast forward to the next day when I listened to a voicemail sent by my kids’ school director. I am sorry but the school will be closed for two weeks due to a Covid case. I replayed the message again to ensure my ears didn’t deceive me. Because what I heard was: 

  • Now you’ll be spending more time in closer quarters. 
  • You will have more to juggle (hello working from home while mommin’). 
  • Forget coming up for air, because ain’t nobody got time for that here. 

Funny sense of humor, Universe. You, one. Me, zero. I’m over here trying not to be one of those moms on Snapped and you pull out a doozy. Cool. 

And the thing is, I adore my kids. Like, more than I can even put into words. I’m that mom who passed up a trip to Hawaii with her husband because I wasn’t ready to leave my boys for more than 24 hours (I know, I know… be kind). 

But the past couple of weeks have been like running a marathon. My boys are each beautifully strong-willed. It is a trait I both admire and one that can be... well, you know ... to parent. I am unsure what the shift has been but I can say with full honesty that I am exhausted.

Today I tried to rally. I planned an activity for my boys and me to connect. I set out all of the colorful wooden letters and patterns and shapes. I envisioned this beautiful scene. Well, we know how that turned out, right? Letters down the air vent. Paper torn into confetti. It was madness. 

I honestly don't know what I was thinking coming in with all of these high expectations for my toddlers but whatever - we can’t nail it every time. So when it all went to shit within five minutes, on top of the tornado of the past two weeks, I yelled loudly, "STOP! Just STOP!” followed by a growl/howl.

My youngest looked so startled, his bottom lip puckered out and he ran to his brother who hugged him tightly. And just when I thought the entire moment was a fail, something unexpected happened: My four-year-old son took my two-year-old son to his Calming Corner. My youngest pointed to "sad", and then my oldest "read" him a book to help him calm. 

Together they left the space to find me still picking my jaw up off the ground. This had never happened before. Was I being punked? I couldn’t believe it, truly. 

I apologized to my children for being so short. We worked through it, Three Musketeers style. I was ready to move forward. And just as I was starting to feel hope that the day may turn around, a series of sibling quarrels, tantrums, and whining happened. Did I mention my two-year-old accidentally peed on the floor and then proceeded to jump in it like a rain puddle?

Yep. I sat on the floor and cried - like big, ugly overwhelmed mom (parent) tears. I was ready to hold up my white flag and surrender for the day. 

But then the second magical thing happened: My two-year-old came to me and hugged me. And, then he reached out his small, chubby toddler hand and led me to his Calming Corner and pointed to “sad”.

I cried a little harder. But mostly in amazement. These kids are such teachers. They are so forgiving. They are so resilient. 

My kids may have almost pushed me over the edge, but they also kept me from going over it. I guess parenting is funny like that, huh? 

_______

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