Ah, the day is done, the kids are in bed, and I’ve poured myself a well-deserved glass of sweet, velvety, red wine. Just as I sit down on the couch for the first time all day, I hear the all too familiar pounding of little feet upstairs. My three-year-old toddler is out of bed. Again. Parenting little ones is hard! This struggle to empower and celebrate their fire, independence, and curiosity while teaching them how to be kind people, is real, especially for a working mom.
Bedtime has become an all-out war here, and I’m losing every battle. His stalling tactics and pleas for more water, one last trip to the potty, and to be tucked in again are relentless. All of my research on parenting toddlers settles back on the same mantra: “stay calm, and be consistent in the face of challenging behavior.” I’m on board. I don’t want to shame my child, yell, or demand things that he isn’t developmentally ready for.
I know that these stages are temporary, and a sign that he’s a healthy toddler. I’m so proud of who he is and I’m in awe of his intense love of life. He and his baby sister have a beautiful bond. The way he cares for her when she gets hurt or when he gives me kisses out of the blue melts my heart. But as a working mom, I also just want him to just go to sleep at night.
I know, this too shall pass (and all of that super UNhelpful advice that more seasoned parents give you when they are out of these phases and have blocked them out), but I’m exhausted and tapped-out today. There is no balance in life right now. I feel awful when I lose my patience. I find myself wondering why I can’t be more “calm and consistent in the face of challenging behavior.” Then I reflect on my working mom daily routine, and that’s when it hits me, it’s just impossible. Bedtime is a struggle, but really, it’s the whole day-today toddler schedule that’s exhausting:
5 a.m. Wake up exhausted at an hour that should be illegal. Force a workout because there is no other time to do it, and, you know, baby weight.
6 a.m. Rush getting ready for work and hope you remember deodorant.
6:30 a.m. Get the baby and toddler up and force them to brush their teeth and get dressed, which is basically like wrestling feral cats.
6:45 a.m. Hurriedly make breakfast for everyone while everyone trips over each other in the kitchen because the two small versions of you want to be held, and your partner also needs to eat and make his lunch.
7:30 a.m. Run out the door, doing the choreographed car exchange because the garage only fits one car, and your husband won’t load the
animals children into the car parked on the street in the pouring rain.
7:45 a.m. 45 minute commute to work where you call your mom via Bluetooth to keep from falling asleep at the wheel.
8:30 a.m. Become a warm but firm teacher of 27 sweet eight and nine-year-olds who battle depression, anxiety, ADHD, ASD, hormones, entitlement, social issues, gun safety, gender identity, and state-wide assessments.
3 p.m. Rush through getting the classroom ready for the following day, jump in the car, and drive home.
5:15 p.m. Pick up kids, and wrestle them back into the car with a promise of goldfish crackers, which of course you forgot, so listen to screaming for the next fifteen minutes on the drive home.
5:30 p.m. Drag both kids inside for potty, hand-washing, and clothes-changes while everyone melts down even more (if that’s even possible).
5:45 p.m. Start cooking dinner no one will eat.
7 p.m. Dreaded bedtime routine.
8 p.m. Wine, wine, wine, and sleep.
It’s no wonder we lose our patience! How can anyone stay calm and consistent in the face of challenging behaviors when life demands way too much of us? This is not what I envisioned for my family. So until I can figure out how to simplify our lives with all of that extra time I have as a working mom, there is wine and the reboot of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which make me feel like everything is going to be okay.