I’m 21 weeks pregnant today, which means I’m over halfway through my pregnancy, and, holy crap, in just four months or so, I’m going to be the mother of two! Mostly, I’m very excited about this prospect. I’m looking forward to the new experience of raising a girl (and maybe it won’t actually be very different, but I’m interested in seeing how similar or how different the experience is, nonetheless). On a superficial level, I’m having fun buying girl clothes (they’re all so damn cute!!). I’m looking forward to watching Drew with a daughter and Jackson with a little sister. And, of course, I’m excited for the ways the love in our family will expand and how the dynamic will become . . . well, more dynamic.
But there are some worries, too. I’m concerned about balancing the needs of two small children, and I’m especially anxious about how Jackson will adjust to sharing the spotlight in our family. I am expecting some behavioral regression on his part when the baby comes, but, recently, it seems the regression has already begun. Or, maybe it’s just typical 3-year-old behavior, I don’t know. Oh, hey, did you know 3-year-olds are far more terrible than 2-year-olds? It’s true. Two was very challenging, but three has pushed me in ways I wasn’t prepared for. I think it’s a combination of Jackson’s growing will and desire to test boundaries and my general fatigue after two years of toddlerhood now, my God it feels relentless sometimes. I am so tired. So, so tired. And not just physically, although that’s certainly the case, but emotionally fatigued, too.
The emotional fatigue hit me like a ton of bricks over the weekend. We had a five-day stretch of some of the most awful behavior in recent memory. It was compounded by a (thankfully, short-lived) cold (Jackson’s) and general lack of sleep for all of us. There was back-talking, hitting, screaming and yelling, a tantrum at school, and a tantrum to end all tantrums at a restaurant in Chinatown. You know that blog that went viral last year that featured pictures of toddlers crying with captions explaining the really silly, mundane reasons the kids were losing it, like “He got a blue straw instead of a green straw?” Well, Jackson’s Chinatown meltdown was that blog on steroids in real life, complete with knocking shit off the table, standing on a chair and screaming loud enough for his grandparents to hear him in Missouri. I was mortified. And just . . . hurt, which at this point in parenthood I realize is kind of a dumb emotion to feel. Jackson’s just being a normal 3-year-old. As awful as that tantrum was, it’s pretty typical of the way a kid his age will act on (thankfully pretty rare) occasions. But in that moment — and, really, for the rest of the day — I was hurt and pissed off. But I was also feeling really . . . defeated. If my best job as a parent yields these kinds of results, then we’re screwed, right?
By Sunday night, my emotions got the best of me, and, after Drew got Jackson to sleep and I cleaned up the kitchen and put away Jackson’s toys, I sat on the couch and just cried and cried.
“I don’t know if I’m cut out for this and now we have another kid on the way!” I sobbed, as Drew cautiously took a seat next to me.
I was remembering the conversation I’d had a few days earlier with a (child-free) friend. He’d just gotten back from his second trip to Florida this winter, was about to leave for a weekend away in another city, and was telling me about the two-week trip to Italy he’d just booked for May. As he talked, I thought about how it’s been almost three years since we’ve had a real vacation, how I hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks, and how I’d kill for a margarita right about now.
“You should never have kids,” I said, matter-of-factly. (My friend is on the fence about having kids, and it’s been a topic of conversation in recent months).
“You have such a nice life,” I continued. “Just enjoy it. Enjoy your freedom!”
“Yeah,” he said, “But you have a really nice life, too. I look at you with your family and a baby on the way, and it looks pretty good to me. I guess the grass is always greener.”
It’s easy, during the Chinatown meltdowns and the sleepless nights, to lose sight of the green over here, on my side of the fence. When I’m mortified by out-of-control behavior in public, I forget that those moments are fleeting, actually, and the happy, sweet, rewarding moments far outweigh the stressful and embarrassing ones. I forget sometimes that this is not only the life I signed on for, but that it’s also the life I want (and am very lucky to have).
Yesterday afternoon, after another tantrum that resulted in thrown food and more tears (his and mine), I got Jackson calmed down and the two of us sat together for an hour or two, playing with play-doh and listening to Joni Mitchell.
“I love when she sings ‘California,’ Mommy.” Jackson said. “Can we go there?”
“To California?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he replied.
“We will some time. I’ve never been there either.”
“Is it by Grandma and Grandpa?” he asked. “Is it next to their farm?” (There’s a farm we visit when we’re in Missouri that I guess he thinks belongs to my parents).
“No,” I said, “It’s farther than that. It’s all the way on the other side of the country.”
“Well, I would love to go there,” he said, “I would love to go there with you. And Daddy and my baby sister.”
“Me, too,” I replied.
And I would. In fact, I can’t imagine anyone else I’d rather go with.
tbrucemom March 10, 2015, 12:13 pm
As the mother of two grown children, I’ve always said it should be the terrible 3’s and not the terrible 2’s! I have a girl and a boy and it’s so awesome! You just seem to have different relationships with them. My son puts me on a pedestal and my daughter, now that she’s an adult, is literally my best friend. The dynamic between the two of them is interesting as well. As children they weren’t overly close, even though my daughter worshiped her big brother! Now that they’re both adults it’s so cool to listen to them. They’re very similar and very different all at the same time!
Steph_ March 10, 2015, 2:40 pm
I’m 31. No kids myself yet. I have a younger brother and I’ve always loved him differently than anyone else (although I think that can be said about anyone you love, it’s always different). Although I’ve always loved him, I haven’t always liked him. When I was about 23 and he was 20 is when we really became “friends.” And I wouldn’t trade him, the fights growing up or anything for the entire world.
He loves my mom and me more than anyone else on this planet and when he finally finds a woman he deserves is worthy of his love she will be extremely lucky!
And while I have a best friend and she is not my mom. My mom is MORE than that. She’s the first person I want to tell anything good or bad that happened. I talk to her daily. I know my relationship with her and I see her relationship with my brother. They are completely different, yet she loves us equally.
My best friend has a just turned 4 year old and the 3’s were definitely worse than the 2’s. But the good times with those 3’s are better than they were with the 2’s as well.
Good luck, Wendy. You’ll do great!
joanna March 10, 2015, 12:22 pm
Wendy, I love your essays about parenthood. They just giveme a sliver of pie as to what life is like with children. And I don’t think I want children. I may change my mind someday.
something random March 10, 2015, 1:03 pm
Aw Wendy. We all have those days; I’m sorry. Just remember that your body is working really hard right now. Cut yourself some slack- Jackson will survive and one day you’re going to be glad he has so much fire in his bones.
We don’t get all the credit for what they achieve in life – I don’t think we should take all of the blame, either. Like all relationships, “successful” parenting isn’t some fixed state. If you still have things to learn, it only means your still motivated to grow. That’s what I think, anyway.
Hang in there. Jackson seems to have a very safe, reliable, stimulating environment in which to grow up. Do remember to congratulate yourself for that.
ktfran March 10, 2015, 1:30 pm
That was really lovely.
something random March 10, 2015, 4:23 pm
Dear Wendy March 10, 2015, 1:36 pm
msremy March 10, 2015, 1:10 pm
I really appreciate your honesty in these essays Wendy, it’s not everywhere you get such a rounded picture of parenthood, the highs and the lows!
I find the prospect of having a child entirely terrifying but also enticing. I have my guy, we do plan on kids but are in no rush, he’s happy to go along with whenever I’m ready. I worry I won’t ever be ‘ready’! What if I’m awful at it/not cut out for it? What if you have a particularly challenging child? Does that fear go away or is it something you learn to ignore? I love other people’s kids but know its an entirely different situation when you are The Parent 24/7!
K March 10, 2015, 1:30 pm
I am on the fence about kids and if I had to pick one way or another right now, I’d pick not having them. I feel the same way regarding “what if I’m awful at it/not cut out for it?” Or what if I hate it? The thought of being pregnant is also terrifying to me. There are so many places I want to see in life and if I have a kid, I feel like I won’t be able to. But I know having a kid is supposed to bring great joy and happiness, fulfillment, etc. I just worry that I wouldn’t feel that way after having a kid.
msremy March 10, 2015, 1:52 pm
Exactly! It’s such a huge and irreversible decision. Pregnancy is also scary to me, both physically and mentally, with all the changes. I’ve worked hard on this calm demeanour! It doesn’t come naturally, I worry I would turn into a crazy person while pregnant, or not be patient enough with a young child.
I’d also love to travel, I hope it would be possible and enjoyable with a child. A friend’s 6 month old baby has been out of the country (with his mum haha) more often than I have in the last 5 years! Need to go see the world a bit more while I’m still free to travel solo 🙂
RedroverRedrover March 10, 2015, 1:54 pm
I think all any of us can do is follow our gut. I was never sure about kids either (I have one now). The thing to remember is it’s like anything else in life – you just have to deal with it. If you do decide to, then as long as you make the decision at a time that you’re ready for a change, I think you’ll be ok.
msremy March 10, 2015, 2:58 pm
I sincerely hope that when it’s a more imminent decision rather than theoretical, that just being in a more practical, realistic place to give a child a good life will make it less scary! Until then, precautions! 🙂
You make some great points below too, you suck it up and deal because you want the result! I’m always making things worse in my head than the reality and I try to keep that in mind!
RedroverRedrover March 10, 2015, 3:27 pm
Yeah. Personally it was a logical decision for my husband and I. I’m not a “baby person”, but I wanted my life to include children. We were in a stable place with our marriage, home, jobs, etc. I was actually getting a bit bored. It was a good way to shake things up a bit, and shake it did!!!! And this was exactly the attitude I tried to keep. It’s actually my husband’s attitude, and it’s very calming to think that way. I can’t all the time, but I try!
msremy March 10, 2015, 4:38 pm
I do have trouble with things that are outwith my control so I always have to work on not worrying about things unnecessarily. Sometimes you just have to take life as it comes! I’m really glad its been a good decision for your family, I’m sure your lives will be all the richer.
I’m more confident dealing with older kids, when they can be talked to and reasoned with! My bonus son (to steal honeybees phrase) was 4 when I met his dad and he has 2 younger half brothers at home but even part time resposibilty for the wee ones is nothing compared to being utterly responsible for the existence of a baby! The youngest is only 3 months so I’m doing exposure therapy haha! Try and get some practice in while his experienced mother is right there 🙂
RedroverRedrover March 10, 2015, 2:11 pm
Also, I was scared of pregnancy but it honestly happens so gradually that you don’t really get freaked out. There are a few moments, like when the baby moves for the first time, that are super freaky. But other than that I personally didn’t find it all that bad. Except for the back pain. 🙁 I had a massive baby and carried him completely in the front. Very low, too, which made it worse. It was extremely hard on my back, but nothing I could do about it. Anyway, it’s just like any body pain. It happens and you get through it.
honeybeenicki March 10, 2015, 2:36 pm
At first when I could feel him moving, it was so freaky but now I think its the coolest feeling in the world. Even at not quite 20 weeks he is actually responsive (light movement to my touch/voice, heavy movement to my husband’s touch/voice).
msremy March 10, 2015, 3:04 pm
That’s so sweet that you have such a connection already! Enjoy every minute, I know from your comments how much you want this and how ready you are and I hope its everything you’ve dreamed of 🙂 I hope to feel that strongly one day.
honeybeenicki March 10, 2015, 3:14 pm
I was always terrified of pregnancy but so far it hasn’t been too bad. Ok, the 3 1/2 months of constantly wanting to throw up… that wasn’t so fun. And the joints starting to feel weird, not awesome either. And having a cold right now and not being able to take much, not fantastic. But overall, its pretty cool. Watching my body change and feeling him and his responses to me (he responds to my body it seems – if I’m stressed, he get stressed and starts poking at my insides).
msremy March 10, 2015, 4:46 pm
Aww poor you! I hate hate hate to throw up, would do most things to avoid it. I suppose that’s part of the fun though, throw the dice and see what symptoms you end up with! Hope its easy going for the rest of your turn 🙂 It must be so strange to have that constant presence reacting to you from within. Was glad to hear you’ll give him a good musical education before he arrives! Love me some rock & metal 🙂
K March 12, 2015, 12:10 pm
I feel the same way about throwing up so that’s definitely part of my pregnancy fear!
Just Max March 10, 2015, 1:13 pm
This brought tears to my eyes. Although I don’t have kids, I’ve spent plenty of time with my nieces and, yes, 3s are worst than the 2s. And it hurts. It does hurt when the child is just wailing and people are watching and there are no words that sooth or calm them or oneself. But then there are the hugs and kisses and the cuddling. I miss my nieces so much. 🙁
Thank you for sharing, Wendy!
ktfran March 10, 2015, 1:29 pm
This brought tears to my eyes. But I also had two drinks at lunch with coworkers, so there’s that….
With said coworkers, I was discussing my recent trip to California (weird)! On said trip, it was me and four of my close girlfriends who live there. Not all of them have met, but I was the common factor, I digress. We rented a house in Santa Barbara for the weekend. During wine tasting in the funk zone on Friday, we decided to discuss my dating life, or lack thereof. One of the girls is married, two engaged and getting married in June/July and the last is in a long term relationship – to give background. Well, we decided to talk about my on-line dating profile, if I were to have one. It was fun and lighthearted and we just laughed about it. Then, that night… after dinner and more drinks, I felt attacked. According to them, I should be trying hard for a relationship right now. I should be on dating sites. And I should be doing this, that and the other thing. Mind you, I don’t ever complain about being single. I’m not depressed about it. And I quite enjoy my life. I’m not sure where this all came from. I joke about dating and I consider it, but I’m honestly just not ready to. My two male coworkers today at lunch said it’s because these women, who are in relationships, want to live vicariously through me. I took it as an affront to my chosen lifestyle. Regardless of the reason, it hurt me deeply. Four to one. Not a fun position.
Anyway, I say all this because of Wendy’s title to this post “the grass is green.” And I hope for everyone, it is. Of course there will be bad days, or in my case, some days I wish I were paired up. But most days, I would say a good 90%, I’m happy and enjoy life. And really, isn’t that what being is about?
Finally, Wendy, I have no doubt you’re a fantastic mother.
Addie Pray March 10, 2015, 1:45 pm
I don’t see it as these women wanting to live vicariously through you as much as I see them wanting validation for their own choices. They are in serious relationships, they’re engaged, they’re married… they want you to want these things because it validates their choices – something like that. I do think if (IF!) people want to find someone they need to put themselves out there and be open…. but I think it’s also just as good to enjoy what you have going for yourself NOW and enjoy it. It’s so frustrating when people say “you should be doing X, Y, or Z” – i) it assumes you’re not, ii) it assumes that will get you want you want, and iii), it assumes to know what you want! Besides, I’m really just convinced finding a good, life-long partner, if that’s what you want, comes down to just dumb luck – luck that you want the same thing someone else wants, luck that you’re both available, luck that you want that with each other, luck that you’re compatible, luck that you’re attracted to each other. All this to say, fuck those girls. From what I can tell, you’re happy and enjoying life. Keep on, keep on. 🙂
RedroverRedrover March 10, 2015, 1:51 pm
I actually feel sorry for those women. Like what, either they think the only proper way to live life is their way, or they are not really happy with their way and want to live through your life instead. Or both. It’s very sad. If they can’t understand that you’re happy with the way your life is, then they have a very limited view of life.
ktfran March 10, 2015, 2:22 pm
Well thank you. I think I’m happy too! Not being paired up just doesn’t bother me all that much. I’m only bothered by it when I feel judged. Anyway, it will happen some day. I refuse to rush anything and I’m cool with just being me at the moment.
And you’re having a baby. YAY!
I think both you and redrover are correct about why this conversation turned from lighthearted joking to out of control you should be like us.
PirateLawyer March 10, 2015, 2:49 pm
AP, my theory that we are secretly the same person continues (with the notable exception of the baby-thing at the moment 🙂 ) In other words, what AP said!
Portia March 10, 2015, 3:40 pm
I agree with AP too, that it’s validating their choices if you actively want and are pursuing what they have. I think this is also why I have heard for years and years that we should get married, that we should get on the baby train, etc (mostly from acquaintances who have faded away over the years). Because if I (and others) want that and am actively pursuing what they have, what they have is valuable and they made the right choices.
TheGirlinME March 10, 2015, 3:52 pm
AP FTW!!! Listen to her! I was trying to formulate a response, because I’ve been in the almost EXACT same position, ktfran & I, too, was totally content (blissful, even) on my own. I got SO tired of the sympathy/advice from my partnered up friends. Rock on with yo’ badass self, lady! ((HUG)), Addie put it FAR better than I could have!
RedroverRedrover March 10, 2015, 3:52 pm
This reminds me how lucky I was when I was in my early 30s and unmarried. No one ever said a thing to me. In fact I have a great-aunt who would take me aside and go “You enjoy this. There’s no hurry. Have your fun, enjoy your life”. Hopefully as women get married and have kids later, or completely pass on either of those options, we’ll hear this less and less. Men certainly don’t hear it to the degree that women do.
FireStar March 10, 2015, 3:41 pm
Aw unfair ktfran! I feel a little violent on your behalf. Granted the hair dresser took off about 6-7 inches of my hair when I went in for a trim earlier so that may be contributing to it but your friends suck. Like there is only one path to happiness and lo and behold they just happen to be on it! So you should do exactly what they did to get the result that they got…because that is how life works. AP is right – it is just luck and if anyone wants to take credit for the universe smiling on them and take it upon themselves to lecture someone for something that is mostly out of her control anyway – then fuck them. They are idiots. I know they are your friends and you love them – but they are idiots.
TheGirlinME March 10, 2015, 3:55 pm
^What Firestar said!!
ktfran March 10, 2015, 3:55 pm
They were definitely not being good friends that night. I’m obviously still a little bit upset about it. I had to explain that I can talk about dating, but I’m just not ready. Like, I’m thinking about dipping my toe in the water, but I’m hesitant to wade in right now at this point in my life. They just couldn’t understand that.
shg23 March 10, 2015, 1:42 pm
I love your honest essays on motherhood.
BriarRose March 10, 2015, 2:01 pm
The threes really are the worst. I called them the “Oh Dear God Threes” and once locked myself in my room while my daughter screamed on the other side and pounded on the door. I sat on the other side and cried. I remember it as if it were yesterday, yet it also seems like someone else’s life. It is so foreign, because that it just not anything like my life today, seven years later.
Anyway, not sure if I had a point, I guess just more to say I’ve been there, I get it, and it gets better. And even though it gets better, you’ll still find yourself missing those days every so often 🙂
Dear Wendy March 10, 2015, 2:03 pm
Sometimes, I really look forward to missing these days!
BriarRose March 11, 2015, 7:28 am
Don’t worry–when I say “every so often”, I mean like once every 5 years! Ages 4-10 have been awesome!
RedroverRedrover March 10, 2015, 2:14 pm
This is why I can’t even imagine being a stay-at-home mom, or even a partial stay-at-home like Wendy. It’s actually a relief when the weekend is over and I can send him off to daycare. I just couldn’t do it all day every day. I had a 16-month mat leave and I found it very difficult (but also very rewarding, and I’m glad that I had it). I couldn’t do that for 5 years (or more! with a second kid).
Dear Wendy March 10, 2015, 2:26 pm
It’s very challenging, for sure. The easiest times of my week are when Jackson is either with his nanny or in preschool (which comes to a total of about 19 hours a week) and I’m working, and, of course, the evenings after he’s gone to sleep and I have about an hour — sometimes two hours — to exhale before I pass out myself. It IS a privilege to be able to stay home with my son and spend as much time with him as I do, and, truthfully, I wouldn’t want it another way, but I totally understand why the lifestyle doesn’t appeal to everyone. And I also think mothers who work full-time outside the home and pine for the SAHM lifestyle don’t always understand that it’s not, like, living a weekend every day. It’s not like the few months of maternity leave they may have enjoyed with a newborn. But I also know that balancing a career and motherhood comes with its own set of challenges, too. I feel that to an extent, though not like my friends who work full-time and have to commute and deal with demanding clients or employers, etc.
RedroverRedrover March 10, 2015, 2:32 pm
I agree with you, it’s challenging no matter how you do it. Full-time paid work, part-time paid work, or no paid work. They’re all hard when you have kids. I’m personally very lucky that I work from home, which means I have extra time due to no commute, and also that I can do some personal errands during the day. And I can take a 1/2 hour and relax on the couch with a cup of tea if I want. I couldn’t imagine if I had to go into the office every day. I’d need a nanny for sure, because my husband and I would each have 1.5+ hours of commute per day. And then our son would never see his parents. 🙁
something random March 10, 2015, 4:33 pm
Can I just say that I love how supportive the DW community is towards mothers be they working/part-time/student/SAHMs? I love how supportive the readership is towards all kinds of people with all kinds of relationship states, preferences, inclinations, and woes. From family to friends to co-workers this is such a great place to sound off.
Portia March 10, 2015, 5:48 pm
I agree. 🙂
Lyra March 10, 2015, 2:20 pm
This is really sweet. 🙂
This may sound weird, but when you think of having a margarita could you bake some bread? I get stressed from work a lot, and any time I do, I bake something — usually bread because punching and kneading the dough is therapeutic to me. I either bake or I crochet when I’m stressed. And yes I may be in my 20’s but I act like I’m 50 sometimes haha.
Dear Wendy March 10, 2015, 2:28 pm
Ha, no, baking break wouldn’t give me the same… relief that some tequila would. It’s a nice thought though!
Portia March 10, 2015, 3:46 pm
Haha, we must be the same, except I do ceramics instead of bake bread. It’s a very similar process getting the clay ready to throw on a wheel. Maybe it’s something about the repetitive nature of the throwing process and knitting that’s relaxing.
Then again, tequila sounds nice too!
mylaray March 10, 2015, 2:23 pm
I love this. It terrifies me and soothes me at the same time.
Rangerchic March 10, 2015, 2:50 pm
Reading this reminds me of the time when mine were a lot smaller and made me really feel for you! I know (as all mothers do) how hard it can be and I’m glad you write about it because it doesn’t seem to be talked about a lot. And I agree with everyone else that 3’s are the worst stage. I once left a basket full of groceries at the grocery store because my daughter decided to throw the tantrums of tantrums that day with no calming her. I felt really bad about leaving the groceries but actually thought it was the lessor of two evils so to speak. No one wanted to see or hear her tantrum so I left.
Every age brings new and different challenges, though, and sometimes all you can do is cry. I know I’ve done my fair share of crying over the years of parenting!
Mr. Cellophane March 10, 2015, 3:14 pm
You are a fantastic writer. And I well remember the days of the “Worse Threes”. We grow-up with our children. I have always thought that when a child is born, so is a parent tend they grow up together.
At the other end of the parent continuum, my daughter brought home the stuff to order her HS class ring, is studying for her Driver’s license written test, and wants to go “lady tux” shopping this weekend, because this guy she has been “hanging out” with has been dropping hints that he might ask her to “Prom”. And she refuses to wear a stupid dress.(Btw, when did we lose the article “the” that used to go in front of “prom”?)
This same kid collapsed and cried in the middle of the YMCA toddler gymnastics class because she wanted the pink tights instead of the white ones. Didn’t that just happen last week?
The years fly by. But sometimes the days drag on forever!
Addie Pray March 10, 2015, 3:48 pm
I love reading Wendy’s writings. And no matter how low the lowest points of motherhood seem in some of these writings, they make me smile – I’m ready! Well, I’m ready to be ready (I assuming you’re never really ready for the big big tantrums). I’m excited about the ups and downs and experiencing it all. And I’m jealous of those cute baby girl clothes. I clicked on each link. Man, I’m going to need a girl next.
Addie Pray March 10, 2015, 3:54 pm
That said, I won’t mind if my baby turns out to be really easy. Just saying.
Portia March 10, 2015, 3:56 pm
I love when you write about motherhood, Wendy! When people talk about the joy (and frustration) that children give them, I really don’t get it, but in your writing I really do kind of get it. Thanks. And I think Bassanio’s been looking at the other side of the fence lately, but I think he really needs to go change some diapers and have a few sleepless nights and take care of a sick kid first…
Lurking somemore March 10, 2015, 5:14 pm
So Wendy – the 3s are really hard! My kids are much older, (youngest is 15 – others are in their 20s) and let me tell you it really is the terrible 3s much more than the terrible 2s. Personally, I think that 5, the kindergarten year, is a real sweet spot. Oh the joy they have in going to school, and learning, and they are just so sweet and kind and helpful that year! So you have something really wonderful to look forward to! Other years are great too, but 5 is awesome!
Also remember that if you’re anything like I was when I was pregnant, the hormones, the fatigue, and just the general uncomfortableness (sp?) of getting bigger, can really get on your nerves and make you more emotional and less patient than you usually would be. And that’s OK. You’re pregnant! It can be hard looking after a toddler or a preschooler when you’re pregnant – for all those reasons and many more. So give yourself a break! You sound like a great mother.
Dear Wendy March 10, 2015, 6:34 pm
Thank you for that. I’m looking forward to 5! And hopeful even 4 is an improvement. If we are lucky, Jackson will go to pre-k at the public school right next door to us (it’s a lottery system for the pre-k program as there are more students applying than spaces available), which would be so great.
And you are right about pregnancy. It’s much harder this time around than before, and I’m already feeling uncomfortable and I still have four months to go. So, I will give myself a break and also try not to be so hard on Jackson, too. He can’t help being three anymore than I can help feeling more emotional than usual lately.
Skyblosom March 11, 2015, 8:41 am
Some years ago when I was out with a group of friends with our kids one of the moms was telling us about her daughter who was four. Her daughter had decided she didn’t like wearing underwear so was always removing her panties. So mom was constantly checking as they were leaving home that her daughter was wearing panties but despite that they ended up on the playground and the mom looked up to see her daughter hanging from monkey bars by her knees and she had no panties under her dress. She was naked from the waist down when hanging by the knees. That evening her husband came home and he had had a bad day at work. She told him that when he had a bad day it was a bad day, when she had a bad day it usually included public humiliation. I think your incident at the restaurant includes a bad day with public humiliation. They do grow out of it.
Berrribabe March 11, 2015, 10:48 am
I didn’t think I’d make it through my son being 2. Then he turned 3. Holy Mother it was B A D. I mean awful. I mean why did I go through all the trouble to have this kid. what was I thinking bad. But 4. Four is so much better. There are still awful moments and days. but every single day it gets better. Hang in there Mama!
Sue Jones March 11, 2015, 11:45 am
3 was definitely more difficult than 2. 4 was no picnic either. Things really settle down at 5, when they go to school. I remember my son just losing it and screaming “I’m gonna break your bones!!!!!!!” and “I want to burn the house down!!!!!” to which I would just look at him and say ” It sounds like you are really angry and frustrated.” then if he would let me I would just put him on my lap, facing me, and I would just hold him and rock him until he settled down. Every kid is different, so any advice I give may be useless, but it is all worth a try. Also the love and logic stuff (Do you want to come down off of the table by yourself or do you want me to help you? Do you want to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt?) sometimes works too because they feel in control. And toddler meltdowns are often about feeling out of control. Also pulling gluten, sugar and dairy out of the diet can sometimes help with behavioral issues . (they can affect neurotransmitters believe it or not…)
Jane63 March 11, 2015, 1:06 pm
My children are 28 and 22 and they still make me cry;) Sounds to me like you are doing everything right! Take care of you.
Bubbles March 11, 2015, 1:42 pm
You’re doing everything right and yes it’s well worth it. Honestly, my husband and I stopped going to restaurants with the kids for a few YEARS, until the youngest one was 4+ and learned to behave in public (so my oldest was 6+ at this point). We just avoided the aggravation and humiliation by not taking them out to dinner. That was our solution. It sucked because we liked going out for breakfast on Sundays after church but there was a time that we stopped going to church too because we didn’t want to attend mass in the “parents’ room” with all of the other crying/screaming kids.
Then when they’re 4-5 to about 10-12 those are the golden years. They’re amazing and fun and just happiness all around. Then the teenage years hit and OMG so it begins again. But we survived and they’re amazing adults now going through the terrible 3’s with their own kids and babies on the way and we just sit back and enjoy the g-kids and give them back and go home when we want our quiet time and can go out to eat at a restaurant and go to the movies or to happy hour WHENEVER WE WANT.
Bubbles March 11, 2015, 1:45 pm
P.S. There was a point where we had teenagers AND a toddler and talk about a LIVING HELL! That was NOT A GOOD TIME 🙁
Dear Wendy March 11, 2015, 1:52 pm
Oh god, I can imagine!
Sue Jones March 11, 2015, 3:45 pm
I agree with the sweet latent spot being 5-12. My son is now almost 12. The hormones are kicking in bigtime, and the sarcasm is also kicking in. He can be merciless. And also funny. He constantly teases his dad qnd I about being “hippies”. And it it is only beginning…
Bubbles March 11, 2015, 6:07 pm
Right?!? My son grunted his responses to me from about 14-19(?) Up till then we’d had such an awesome relationship and then boom hormones and the grunting responses came. My daughter on the other hand, well, let’s just say we preferred the son’s grunting because she had a response for EVERY F’N THING we asked her to do. They’re all our BFFs now that they’re older though! LOL
Dear Wendy March 11, 2015, 1:52 pm
Oh, we take Jackson to restaurants all the time and, thankfully, he’s usually very well-behaved. There was maybe a 6-8 months stretch that we didn’t take him to restaurants and then we’d go visit my parents and jackson wouldn’t know how to act at a restaurant, so we decided we should just re-incorporate restaurants into our family life so that he would learn how to behave. There’s a cuban place we go to almost every friday evening where the wait staff absolutely adores jackson. They bring him back into the kitchen and walk him around the restaurant and basically treat him like a little prince. I don’t really know why this is, but it makes me feel proud anyway that he’s so well-liked (and well-behaved). And there’s a familyf-friendly diner we go to on sundays sometimes for pancakes and jackson is always good there, too. So the meltdown at lunch in chinatown was especially infuriating and shocking because he KNOWS how to behave in a restaurant. But, I have to remind myself that he’s 3 and we will have these bad days. We are lucky he is usually such a good, sweet kid. You know, for a 3-year-old.
Portia March 11, 2015, 2:09 pm
Oh boy, Bassanio’s niece had about 30 minutes of well-behaved toddler in her for restaurants. Then the internal timer would go off and she would make the biggest scenes. The parents would know and prepare for the 30 minute mark. At least we always knew how long meals with them would last? Second kid was totally different.
Bubbles March 11, 2015, 6:03 pm
Wendy, that’s great that Jackson handles restaurants so well, and he’s such a cutie, that I can see the wait staff wanting to treat him like a prince! Well I blame the not going to restaurants until they were a bit older on me, as I’d get anxious (and I think my kids would sense my anxiety and then start acting up more?) So once they got a bit older and knew what “the look” meant and they had better cut it out or we’d leave, it was easier on me! (Which we did one time. Our food hadn’t arrived and the kids, now about 5-7 weren’t behaving, my husband asked that our food be changed “to go” and he took them outside while I waited for the boxes. After that they knew we were serious!) Adventures in Parenthood 😀
Dear Wendy March 11, 2015, 8:11 pm
Well, we have secret weapon these days that you didn’t have when your kids we’re little that made the transition into restaurant-dining with a toddler relatively smooth: an iPhone. We don’t use it much anymore (crayons and coloring books or books to read work just as well), but in the early, early days when jackson wasn’t used to restaurant culture and didn’t know how to behave, we’d hand over the iPhone and let him watch shows (with the sound very low) on the PBSKids app or on youtube. Game changer!