Perspective

I’ve been struggling to force my thoughts into neat little lines, and the final middle class post remains unwritten. I think it’s okay though. I think we could all use the break. I hope to have it up early next week.

My son is a two year old these day, through and through. He’s all scowls and stomping feet, demands and tantrums. But the storm clouds never linger long and his face quickly softens as the sun comes out again.

His behavior puts a lot of things into perspective, and I recognize again how isolating having a “strong willed” child has been. Every day I am so thankful to have my son, whose behavior validates every suspicion I had that things with his sister were harder than they should have been.

All those times, standing next to another mother as we commiserated about the yelling and the wailing and the melt downs, always sensing that the behaviors she was referencing did not compare to the ones I had in mind. Understanding that we were using the same words but speaking different languages.

My son’s melt downs are dramatic affairs. He screams. He cries. He throws toys. He hits. He stomps his feet and turns away. He arches his back and thrashes his arms and legs. He makes a total spectacle of himself.

And then, five to ten minutes later, he lets me wrap him in my arms for a hug and a snuggle. There is no straightjacket hold to keep him safe. There is no crossing of arms and holding of hands. There is no head butting, or kicking or biting. There is no breaking of the skin. There is no twenty minutes or two hours. There is no foul mood that lasts days and days. There isn’t any of that. Sure he’s stubborn and impatient and obstinate and frustrating, but his meltdowns are predictable and appropriate. And they don’t scare me.

I so appreciate the opportunity to parent a more typical child, to have this perspective. It validates so many things I wanted to feel before, but wasn’t sure I truly had the right to. I spent so much of the first years of motherhood wondering why it was so fucking hard, why I struggled so much, why it always felt like I was failing. I get it now, and it feels like I finally have permission to feel the hard feelings I’ve been denying myself for so long, pushing them down and pretending they weren’t there.

But now I know. It was, and many times still is, that hard. And it was, and still is, okay to feel the things I feel. I can’t tell you what a weight has been lifted with that simple validation, a precious gift that only I could give myself.

 

10 Comments

  1. I always knew you had a different situation from most moms. I’m thrilled for you that you’re getting validated with your son. Bryson did the same thing for me with Matthew’s speech. So many people said it was normal, not to worry, etc and they were all dead wrong (my MIL has since admitted that she was wrong to doubt me on it). I needed validation too… And got it.

    1. Validation is a powerful thing, especially when it’s coming from oneself. 😉 I’m so happy to hear your MIL changed her tune. My MIL has never admitted that our daughter presents any great challenges. I let go of hoping for that a long time ago. At least my mom recognizes it.

  2. I am having the same experience with Little Monster. She has perhaps more tantrums than her sister did at this age but they end so fast, only 5-10 minutes! It is fabulous. I wonder

  3. I could’ve written this word for word, as you know. I, too, am so glad to have the opportunity to parent a more “typical” kid, and the validation that 1) YES it was harder for me than it is for many and 2) its not our fault, not due to our bad parenting, because they are so close in age, we hadn’t really changed much between the two. They just are who they are, and its a lot easier to be a good parent to a child that is “following the rules”.

    1. You’re number 2 is so spot on, and maybe this sounds weird, but I was so relieved to know that I COULD have a child that wasn’t so difficult, like the “nature” that I was passing on didn’t have to be “difficult.” My daughter gets a lot of her “stuff” from me, and I have a lot of guilt about that. It meant a lot to me to know that I could have a kid who didn’t have all my issues.

  4. I’m a little envious. We’ve entered a rough patch w/ D and it’s exhausting and frankly, not much fun. The in-laws are starting to be freer with their comments on his energy and inability to stay seated (thanks, SIL!) now that he is more of a child and not a baby.

  5. I experienced this too but luckily only re: a short period. My first was a horrible sleeper and I was extremely sleep derived and not enjoying motherhood much. We sleep trained at 6 mo which worked like a charm and that child has been an excellent sleeper since. My 2nd was a great sleeper as a newborn and much more what I consider to be a “textbook” baby. So I felt great relief and validation that it wasn’t just me not coping well with the 1st.

  6. Yes. I remember being completely astonished when C started meeting milestones so effortlessly and without be doing anything to help her. Perspective is such a wonderful thing- what a blessing your little guy is!

  7. Children are so dramatically different from one to the next. Glad you are seeing they are different and hopefully that makes it more possible for you to be slightly less hard on your self. A parent is only part of the parent/child equation. You keep trying so hard. You are doing your best in a tough position.

  8. I’m feeling this same things with L vs. K. There were many, many times other moms would say “why don’t you just tell him no” or “just do this” or do that. But with L it was never that simple, and meltdowns meant sometimes 2 hrs of screaming and hitting me and also with him being very controlling and multiple instances of me carrying a thrashing huge child out of a public place. Kate seems like a breeze in comparison and it really is a gift to know I am not a crappy mom, he is just a difficult kid.

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