Man, I have really sucked at parenting recently.
About three weeks ago, my adorable toddler – a sunny delight to all she met – went to bed as normal. And what woke up the next morning was a screaming, kicking, raging beast that looked at a lot like Munchkin, but in no way at all resembled the girl I knew.
And, the worst bit – I knew this was coming. They aren’t called the terrible twos for nothing. Every single friend I have with a two year has not just complained about the twos for the good of their health. And yet. Still we thought secretly , just maybe, we’d dodged this particular hurdle. We even allowed ourselves a three second moment of belief that we’d done well. That our exemplary ‘gentle parenting’ skills had paid off. We’ve got this, we thought. It’s not so bad.
Oh, how the mighty are fallen.
It’s just all the screaming. All the time. And the endless, endless hiccupy tears. And the sulking. And the total and complete irrationality of it all. I want the pushchair, I don’t want the pushchair, pass me my bunny, don’t touch it Mummy, I want Daddy, NO Daddy, go way. GO WAY!!! Snack, snack, snack, snnnack, snnaaaack, snnnnaaaaacccckkk!! Noooooo! Bunny. Go out. Bunny. I go out. OUT. Bunny. No. Peeeees. Peeeeeees. Waaaaaaaaaahhhhh…….
At one point last week, I was in a coffee shop with a dear friend and her daughter. Munchkin and I had both arrived in tears after several fights that morning that involved everything from honey-not-honey-no-no-no on her toast to a total refusal to walk through the car park and me deploying the all too familiar under-arm ‘rugby-hold’ favoured by furious parents everywhere.
I had taken three sips of coffee. Cried a bit more. Munchkin was playing happily with her friend. I actually dared to feel better. Then, in the space of three seconds one of the girls fell off a bench while the other reached forward, throwing to the ground a full glass of water and about 120 breadsticks, scattered right in front of the coffee shop door. As we both
reluctantly got leapt to our feet, and stood amidst the mess and tears, Francesca turned to me and said: “We should really take a real life Instagram photo of this you know. To tell the truth…” I looked at her. She looked back at me. And we both knew. It was simply more than we could both manage to get our phones out amidst all the yelling and actually document this horrendous moment. We shrugged, starting clearing up, grabbed our grubby, tear-streaked children and beat a fast retreat out of there.
Driving home later it occurred to me, that this is probably the reason there are no pictures of angry children, destroyed nurseries and weeping mothers on Instagram. Who has the time (or let’s face it, the inclination) in the midst of a meltdown to take a picture and share it with some quippy caption? I know I don’t.*
Instead, you just keep going. Plodding on. Getting from one soft-toy-related crisis to the next. As the very wise Cheryl Strayed said: “Life is about surviving one moment and greeting the next one.”
I’ll let you know if I survive this one. And if not, there’s always gin.
*Which is also why this post is full of pictures of my child smiling. As opposed to weeping…