It was only noon and I felt like having a toddler was like signing up for wrestling, when you never really wanted to wrestle in the first place, and you aren’t allowed off the mat. I savor all the sweet moments, because I know tomorrow this toddler will be graduating college and changing the world with her warrior spirit. I know she’ll be a warrior, because that’s what I prayed for, and I see her practice with me everyday.
Today was no different. I refuse to believe the terrible-two’s is actually a thing, but my experiences thus far is showing otherwise. I leave lots and lots of margin time for her to play and have her moments before having to get in the car to start the day. I even join her just one more time with ring around the rosie, and Mickey’s Mouse’s hotdog dance that she loves so much.
I would say it takes hours to get shoes on, to find they’ve been thrown somewhere. But thankfully today she actually wanted to wear a pair. I mean, they were her play Cinderella heels that don’t stay on what-so-ever, but for the first time she was agreeing to shoes. Either that or going barefoot on a chilly morning.
Since they don’t stay on, she of course screamed each time they fell off, and I would bend over to put them back on. I carried her with her feet in the air, in hopes the angle would stop them from slipping off. I finally got her into the car with her beloved play shoes on, and her actual boots in the diaper bag that I hoped to put on without her noticing when we got to church.
Getting to Church
It was baptism day at church, so it was a full parking lot and parked next door. I love Jesus, but I learned snacks are also a savior when a two year old is present and they stiffen in protest of getting in their car seat. Or fall limp to the ground when needing to walk.
She was very well aware of my agenda as I opened her door, hoping to sneak on her boots. Oh well, not a battle I cared to fight, so she was just going to have to walk with her Cinderella shoes. I preferred to carry her to make this process a lot less painful, but the screaming made it even worse.
I felt like I needed to wear a tee shirt that said, “I swear, this is my child and I’m not kidnapping her. Wish me luck please!”
Every step or two they’d fall off and we didn’t even get out of our parking space. I was assuming church would be over by the time we shuffled in. Oh my gosh, what is the good mommy thing to do at this moment before I lose my shit?
Taking Deep Breaths
“Hold it together, Bailey,” I gave myself a pep talk as other people were also circling the parking lot that was overflowing. I bent over to fix the shoe in time for her to attempt to balance on the curb, and both shoes falling off.
I showed my nervous laugh as one of those circling cars were friends that also had a toddler the same age, seeing me bent over wrestling with Cinderella play shoes.
Clump, drag, clump, drag, clump, drag, sounds of the plastic shoes while cars continued to circle. Oh we were getting closer to the door, but it still seemed so far away. Why is parenting so hard?
Our friends with a toddler came in the same time we reached the door, and slightly jealous of their well behaved tot. As soon as we entered the lobby area where they served coffee and welcomers were there to greet us, my girl decided she was done walking and would not allow me to pick her up.
The screaming began again, with the baptisms going on, I was thinking, “oh dear God, I am that girl with the screaming baby again.”
Other Moms Understood
She then took off running and I handed my coffee to a nearby friend hoping she would see the desperation and exhaustion in my eyes as I went off chasing her.
I was searching through the halls and rooms, not seeing her anywhere, but I eventually found the youth service happening where she had joined the worship band on stage.
She again screamed to pick her up and finally got her to the toddler classroom. Oh, God bless those people that serve there. I can’t handle my own, let alone a room full of tiny human beings.
Coffee, God, and a Nap
Oh, finally! Now to find my coffee, God knows I need both him and caffeine. And a nap.
But there was no napping during a baptism service. I feel things deeply, so I usually sit in a service crying my eyes out in happiness for each stranger that experiences this. I personally wanted to jump in and feel a little refreshed myself.
And a sweet mom that I thought looked like one of the yoga instructors I knew, got into the tub next as her husband and three little girls next to the tub in support and prayer. Oh this one made me feel all sorts of happy and love emotions that show themselves in tears.
But sadly, the service had to end and it was time to retrieve my daughter. Which of course turned into screaming, not letting me putting shoes on her regardless how nice or firm I was, and then took off running in her socks.
The chasing begun again, and I was dreading the long walk to the parking lot next door. She screamed the whole way, and all I could do was hold my nervous smile as people watched. The walk was a struggle, as there was no reasoning with a toddler.
I asked the guys helping with the traffic control if they had an instruction manual for tiny humans like this one. “YouTube!” They responded. “You can get anything on YouTube!”
(I later Googled “how to survive toddler tantrums.")
Her body stiffened as we got to the car seat. It’s like every move reminded me how much I’m failing as a mom. It made me realize why squirrels run out in traffic all the time (they can carry 10 in just one litter!). Confused, exhausted, desperate, embarrassed, and done.
I grabbed the savior snack to finally get her distracted enough to buckle her in, and she screamed the whole way home. I played the music a little louder in the car, and staring into the road as I drove. My jaw was probably locked, and I don’t think I blinked. I was done.
Feeling Like a Failure
I finally blinked when I pulled into the garage and laid my head on the steering wheel feeling like a failure. Taking in a few deep breaths, asking God for help. And then feeling guilty for letting a toddler exhaust me, knowing there are plenty of women who wish they could have babies, and they would do anything for this moment of exhaustion and doneness.
I reminded myself to be grateful, picked my head off the steering wheel, to pick up the toddler I didn’t know what to expect next. Finally, she wasn’t screaming, at least, until I picked her up.
Again, embarrassed thinking the neighbors could hear, and just trying to get into the house hoping she will take an early nap. She screamed and screamed, and then held onto the door frame with some super power grip.
“You need to stop this!” I said firmly.
I got in, shut the door, set her down, and I walked to the opposite side of the house to take deep breaths and leaned against a wall. My dog was even so startled that he ran under the table.
I was full of doubt as a parent. Full of doubt for my own sanity.
My daughter continued screaming while trying to open the door. Thank God we just baby proofed it, because I was done chasing.
I think I just blanked out and stared off as I prepared lunch for her, and hoping she would just nap and wake up a happier baby girl again.
The Moment that Changed it All
I pulled off all the shrimp tails for her to eat, and she gobbled them up. I started taking a few bites of my own, wondering if I even blinked yet, and realized I still needed to pray.
I wasn’t going to try to hold her hand to pray, because anything and everything else I’ve done resulted in screaming and tantrums. So I just bowed my head, and without looking stretched my hand out. She could grab it if she wanted to but at this point, I didn't care anymore.
“Lord, I need you. Like, I really need you....” and instead of screaming, I felt her little hand take mine.
I normally keep prayers really short around meals, but this time, I needed that prayer to connect to a savior bigger than snacks and tantrums.
I continued praying longer than typical meal time prayers, to feel God’s peace, said ‘amen’, and looked to see my two year old with her eyes still closed in prayer with me and holding my hand.
If only I could live in THIS moment. Not the tantrums. Not the failures. Not the disappointments and embarrassments. Not the stress or overwhelm, but THIS moment of peace. Where everything was perfect for a second.
But no, everyday being only perfect highs with no lows isn’t tangible. It is not real life. There will always be a stress, confrontation, hardship, or trial to persevere. But it’s worth it just for that one moment of peace or that one moment of victory.
“Ahmen!” She said with a smile. I was amazed she stayed with me that whole time. She went back to eating her lunch and asking for more cheese like she always does.
Hold onto the Good and muffle out the noise
It kind of made all of those torturous, screaming, and embarrassing moments worth it. I’ll take that precious moment and savor it. Praying it muffles out the rest of the noise. That maybe I’m not a complete failure.
She reached me for a hug, which made it all even better. And although much earlier for a nap, I was taking her to bed anyways.
Maybe she was just hungry this whole time, but giving her all the snacks usually means she won’t eat a meal, so there’s gotta be a compromise somewhere. I’m thinking more snacks, and makes me wonder how easy it is for people to have issues with emotional eating. Especially using snacks as a savior.
Anyways, as I got closer to her bed, and thankfully was not fighting for the first time today. FINALLY.
Laid her down for a fresh diaper, but, this one was a blow out down her leg, on me, and flicked across the wall.
But it’s ok, poo happens. Some days more than others. And I’m not a failure; just in need of a snack, a nap, and a Savior.