We’ve hit a portion of time known in our circle as “the three-and-a-half-year-old” stage. ohdearmotherlivinghell. The “terrible twos”? A warm up. The teenage angst? Being foreshadowed. My mental health? On the wire.
Tuesday we had what could only be referred as “a throwback to Rambo” There was yelling, fighting, dramatic throw-downs. This all in the first ten minutes of the day. She literally turned in to a fish out of water gasping for air because, ohgodforbid, her mother asked her to wipe her own bottom. That’s right, Internet, I forced my child to use her own toilet paper. IknowIknow. I see you shaking your head. Trust me. I disappoint many.
The trouble with this behavior is that I don’t so much like it. And the trouble with not liking the behavior is that it’s not much of a stretch to feel like I don’t like the kid all that much just then. And the problem with not liking the kid just right then is the guilt/shame/I’m-a shitty-mom thoughts that come with it. And the trouble with the I’m-a-shitty-mom thoughts is the previous postpartum depression.
Did you follow that?
Yea, it’s a stretch. I do that.
So I started thinking I was going nuts. I’m never going to survive being a mother. A MOTHER. You know those mom types, right? The ones who are gooey and soft and love their kids? The ones who make pb&j and cookies after school? The ones who come running when their child needs them instead of glaring at her from the other room thinking, “getoffthefloorgetoffthefloorgetoffthefloor” and contemplating have her very own matching fit. Not really the definition of MOM.
Which is why I don’t like labels. MOM. PPD. Crazy-lady. Three-year-old. It’s all so… confining. It’s almost self-fulfilling. It’s a lie.
Just because my daughter and I struggle (and struggle, oh! the struggle) does not mean we will forever. Just because I want to lie on the floor in my PJs all day wishing there was ten minutes of silence does not mean tomorrow I won’t get dressed, leave, and enjoy my children in the sun. Just because I can’t bake to save my life and never remember to seperate the darks from the whites when I do laundry (that’s so 1960’s Alabama, people! I like to think beyond color.) and just because I usually pay bills about four days after the late fees are issued, doesn’t mean I don’t care for my children and hurt when they hurt and cry a little not just because I’m annoyed (again) at the fits (again) but that I’m sad life seems so dramatic and hard to my daughter.
I’m afraid if she thinks it’s hard at three, she may look at her life at 32 and wonder what she did wrong. And that’s no way to live.< changing the topic just a wee bit ... or rather coming out of left field a little >
I’ve now enjoyed every one of your comments on the last several posts. For some reason I was not getting them via email. OHTHEHORROR! (Gee, no idea where my drama queen gets it. Shutit. I hear you snicker.) So forgive my lack of bloggy-etiquette and for not replying to you. I came to my site, read your comment, read your other comment, read a few more and by the time I hit the white square for me to reply, I couldn’t remember what I was going to say because they-were-all-good-comments and how-do-I-address-them-all and didn’t-my-daughter-just-fly-off-the-couch-on-her-brother—-again. So really, I blame gmail.
Let’s all wear a tee-shirt that says, “I blame google,” because really, I can’t wear a tee-shirt that says, “I blame my children.”
or can I?
< Even bigger topic change >
I saw this at Target tonight and giggled. I told you I’m a twelve year old boy. But comon, didn’t you immediately think, “Oh, that Justin Timberlake…” hee.
10 guests here now.
“Oh that Justin Timberlake”- oh my goodness I’m laughing so hard I might wake up the baby! The next time I’m at Target I may end up descending into a fit of giggles.
By Joy on 2008 02 21
Hand to God, I thought 3 was much worse than 2 with ALL FOUR of my kids. Across the board. So, in my book, you haven’t done a damn thing wrong, they get slightly more psycho before they get better!
By Sonia on 2008 02 21
That’s funny. I was just thinking about how I’m not enjoying the drama of 3 and a half. One second she’s a sweetheart and the next minute she’s saying shit like,“Mommmm! I have to talk to you. You’re supposed to play with my THIS way. And you’re not supposed to talk!” Cue pouty lips and stomping feet and a very confused mother who didn’t realize she was breaking some sort of unwritten play law.
Oh, and wondering why you can’t be the perfect mama who makes pb and j sandwiches and has happy thoughts about her children 24/7? I have that too. But the longer I do this, the more I realize that those perfect mothers don’t exist. And if they seem to, it’s all a lie. That or they are totally repressed and could snap at any moment. I choose not to be a walking time-bomb and live in reality.
By andi on 2008 02 21
Rug in a box, Ha! I’ve come pretty close to buying this:
By NG on 2008 02 21
That’s why we call them the effin’ threes. The other day my son had a meltdown because I dared to try to make him wear the wrong color spiderman underwear on a tuesday. And then I mistakenly believed he should wear pants. His fits would be almost believable if he would just throw himself down and have at it instead of carefully getting on the floor or climbing up on my bed before the wailing and flailing.
I love the threes- provided I have enough motrin.
By Mrs X on 2008 02 21
I JUST posted about the 3 year old thing. Shoot me now.
By Carrie on 2008 02 21
Do you know WHY you had that thought? Because Cinderella looks like she’s playing with hers. Oh C’mon! Look at the expression on her face! They cropped it just the right way. Yeah, baby, buy my rug in a box baby! That could totally be the packaging design ‘for my first…
ok, I’d better stop there…maybe it’s just me. Hi, I’m 13. Nice to meet ya. Wanna go ride bikes and later peek at my Dad’s Playboys? Someday I’m gonna have boobies like those ladies!
By TheMacMommy on 2008 02 21
First of all, as usual, you and are right in sync. It does get better though. I’ve got two that are older than our beloved three and half year olds and while they DO have their moments its much better now. The fits for example? Not an issue anymore. The few that happen I can usually nip in the bud pretty damn quick.
Oh and if you make a shirt that says “I blame my children” I will totally buy one. But I’ll need a XXL.
By Sleeping Mommy on 2008 02 21
Thank you for this post! I am sorry about three and a half. I am still there and he just turned FOUR. When he was two, he was an awesome kid. As an infant, he would go DAYS without crying. He has made up for lost time…now if we can get through breakfast without a fit, we are doing good.
And that too—the toilet paper thing.
I am with you, sistah! I just hope the fours get better soon or I am going to be carted off to the looney bin.
FIVE minutes of quiet would be nice…
By hilary on 2008 02 21
Know that you’re not alone. I have an almost 14 yr old boy, 5 yr old girl and 3 yr old boy. And in all actuality, it’s my girl who is the most difficult. She throws more fits at just turned 5 compared to her 3 yr old brother! I don’t get it.
But reading this blog post, I felt like I was you! I’ve had those very thoughts. Trippy.
By Karen Erickson on 2008 02 21
You crack me up! Man I miss your humor…in person that is!
Your words are exact, true, and reflect my own pissy struggles with my own kids. I have the exact same thoughts…a lot…and the random times I vocalize them in front of the husband, he pipes out some god forsaken comment that makes me feel more like shit. You know…“Oh, come on trace you don’t feel that.” or “Are you really saying that?”
I know this isn’t what you probablly want to hear (well, read) but life is so much more annoying with two kids when the little one wants to talk and CAN’T! Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…..the whining. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh….the fits. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….the screaming.
Parenting bliss I tell ya.
Martini tonight? Are you up for it?
By Traci on 2008 02 22
i love everything about this post. i swear i am in the 3 1/2 stage and i am going insane. honestly, everyday there is a tantrum about the craziest things. i am researching what could be wrong, b/c i can not believe that it could just be her age ? yes the guilt, yes the ppd. and oh YES I did think of Dick in a box.
By feener on 2008 02 22
3 has always been harder than 2 in our house. Well, until #4 hit the age of 2. He has turned that whole idea on its head. Should 3 be worse than 2 for him then someone might have to lock me up. However, he does the silly little things that make you melt and forget that two seconds ago you were ready to just quit it all. Can I tell you how many times I have wanted to get in my car and just drive away from it all? But I don’t. Perhaps I’m not very pleasant to be around when feeling this way, but I’m still here and that is all that really matters to the small ones. So give yourself a break for feeling the way you do—every parent does at least once in a while.
By 4andcounting on 2008 02 22
I never understood why people complained about the terrible twos. Two was easy for us with our first. It was three and four that kicked our butts. Now our daughter is making us pay for laughing at the terrible twos the first time around. I shudder to think what she’ll be like when she hits three and a half. Eek!
By Jen on 2008 02 22
Great post! I totally relate. I’m your kind of mom. And I understand completely how PPD can leave you to always wondering whether you are a worthy mother. But you are, of course.
By Katherine Stone on 2008 02 22
If you’re a 12 year old boy, I’m a 16 year old boy—trapped in a body of a 37 year old woman (how rude is that??).
I saw rug in a box and thought, “sheesh, I’m always trying to get rid of mine, why would I want one in a box—unless it was going to stay there.” And then of course I think of the song detatchable penis. See…it’s all just a slippery slope.
By MammaLoves on 2008 02 22
What is it with 3.5 year old girls????
The screaming the drama the chucking stuff about…ooooooh so much fun.
this morning she wants to dress like sleeping beauty…again.
I said wait..but no..so we will head to the mall with her in a pink froo froo dress…and find something else for her to scream about.
By Crunchy Carpets on 2008 02 22
If it’s any consolation to you I don’t remember my mom being all sweet la-la let me bake you cookies all the time. She was more of “if you don’t knock it off this second you’re in big trouble missy.” And all three of us turned out great (well my younger brother is a bit spoiled but they went all soft on him cuz he was the youngest). Now that my mom is a grandma is soooo different but I think the idea that mom’s are supposed to be all June Cleaver is retarded.
By Skiplovey on 2008 02 22
I think kids have been protesting wiping their butts since the invention of toilet paper. Or at least since 1970… that’s when I went to kindergarten—(TMI to follow) and my mother claims that I’d sit on the toilet before school trying to go, so she’d be able to help me wipe before I went off to school. How pathetic! Or maybe that’s typical, I don’t know.
Even those Moms who seem like they’ve got it all going with patience and cookies & softness have to lose it some time. Have to! Or they have some really good drugs. Or lots of wine.
Are you offering wine? Why thank you, I’d love some!!
By Marie on 2008 02 22
Yeah, three and a half almost killed me. There was alottalottalottalotta angsty guilt. Possibly some yelling. And I thought that four would finish me off for sure, BUT I got some really good parenting advice from the V-meister’s teacher that made our lives 100% more pleasant. I’ve been meaning to post about it for ages, because it’s too long for a mere comment. One of these days, though.
By rimarama on 2008 02 22