Friday, September 16, 2011

I Told You "No," and Other Challenges of Letting a Toddler Jump-Start You into Motherhood

Don't get me wrong. I know that no matter where you start, becoming a parent is challenging. Whether your first child is 0 or 17, there's going to be some kind of steep, steep learning curve that makes you wonder if you just maybe might have taken on too much.

But boy-o-boy does starting out with a toddler present some unique little challenges. And while Briggs is fifteen point five months old, I am only three point five weeks old as a mother. As I parent this "older man," I am bound to loose a few battles.

He's just plain outsmarting me somedays.

He's a solid
25 lbs of

Need I say more?

For this mama, there was no starting with an eight-pound baby and letting my arm muscles slowly build up. One day I was lifting things no heavier than a cup of coffee and the next day I was lifting and swinging and spinning and carrying and lowering twenty-five pounds over and over and over.

I've woken up most nights with SCREAMING back and neck muscles. Some mornings I can't bend over or stand up straight. I should have registered for Ibuprofen for my baby shower.

Couple these cramped neck muscles with a mobile baby that requires constant neck craning you'll be sure to find me hobbling from the kitchen to the bathroom while my son unrolls the whole roll of toilet paper saying, "no, no. OW. no. please stop. OUCH. okay. put the toilet paper in the trash please. mommy can't bend down to pick it up. okay, or put it in your mouth. either way, mommy can't help you down there on the floor right now."

Last week was Mark's first week back and work and can I just say that Briggs has been giving me a run for my money every day. And by "run" I mean there has been what feels like miles of actually running after my boy.

Don't get me wrong, his little belly-first-butt-out-toddle is completely endearing, but oh how I wish I could buckle him safely into a bouncy seat with a couple of dangling toys for entertainment and get five minutes to think about what comes next in his day. Instead, it's kick the soccer ball, sing along to Raffi, and try to clear a tiny space in my brain to plot my next move.

Needless to say, I have not yet learned how to stay one step ahead.

Really though, the running
and laughing
and making messes
and getting ahead of mommy
is all pretty fun.

But the defiance. I could just cry.

As is par for the course with most toddlers, my boy is just not fond of that big, fat "no" word.
Like most new parents, I'm struggling to figure out when and what he eats, when he sleeps, if he is cold or fussy or gassy.

But I'm also trying to figure out how to discipline him.
This I was not prepared for.

Parents do not have to discipline their three-week-olds.
But this three-week-old parent must get a handle on it pronto.

I say "no"
he gets funny.

I say "no"
he hits my face.

We've tried tiny time-outs and holding his hands in his lap and taking away things that he throws. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't.

But it's a constant reminder of my own inadequacies and weaknesses - and a constant reminder of my own depravity and that of the entire human race.

From day one, he's been a hitter. Never once have I had even a moment to imagine that my tiny child is a perfect angel. Nope. I've known from the second I started parenting him that he has a little sinful mind of his own.

So far, my experience with motherhood has been less about diapers and formula and more about training and consistency and being firm.

We are learning.
ALL of us are learning.


Joan said...

Hang in there! You're doing a good job. The fact that you care is huge.

Beth said...

So well said, Becky! I hadn't thought about this aspect for you (especially) and Mark. You are doing a great job already - at least you're not afraid to tell him "no"! If you get this whole discipline thing figured out, let me know. Being a mommy is hard work, but soooo worth it. But you already know that. xoxo

the mommy said...

I don't know you personally but I love reading your blog. I just want to say hang in there it does get better. I became a first time mom to a 15.5 month old little girl and had many of the same feelings and experiences that you are having right now.Being a first time mom to a toddler is not easy but it is rewarding. My advice is to show him Love, give him room to find his way in a new environment, pick your battles (give up control sometimes) and most importantly be consistent (both in what you say and in your actions). He is adorable and you are very blessed..

Alexis said...

Such a great post! Parenting at any age is hard and just when you think you have it all under control, they start doing something else that you have to figure out. Our 15 month old is the same way- her favorite word is "NO!" If you find a solution for biting, let me know. We've entered that fun stage. I know Briggs is so happy to be home with you. I love seeing his pictures on facebook. He is so gorgeous.

michele said...

You are doing GREAT! Can't wait to catch up with you guys! Hugs to you all. You aren't alone!!

Leslie said...

Now that my kids are 27 and almost 30 (years, not months), I can honestly say that for us, the toughest age was about 15 months to 30 months. And that includes the teens.

I can remember my husband and I sitting in the hallway while a toddler screamed in the next room, reminding ourselves that we're smarter (at least we were then), more patient, and more stubborn (well, he is!) than that child... and we could, and would, win the important battles.

And then there were the times we had to go hide in the bathroom just to laugh at their annoying-but-cute defiance!

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Oh, sweet girl. I have four kids, had all of them from birth, and was stumped by every one of them at this age.

It's a HARD age. It's not just you. It's them!!

I wrote this on the joys of 1 year olds - maybe it will help you feel a little better, or at least in good company!

Bethany P said...

Darling girl, you are an amazing and strong mother. I am in awe of your strengths already showing themselves! It reminds me of picking up my 2-year old niece after one particularly naughty episode that sent both her and her mother into hysterics and asking the budding young masochist "are you having a rough day?" to which she replied "No, but mommy is!". Don't give up. Don't give up. Don't give up. Don't give up. With time and prayer and consistency all mothers survive toddler-hood, and most kids do too!

Sending love and prayers,