The Thrashing Threes
There have been many days when I have “diagnosed” my three year old as Bipolar. You can’t really diagnose a three year old as Bipolar but I laugh out loud when I think it. The constant major mood swings can actually be amusing if you decide to look at it that way. Every thought we put into our head is how we have decided to perceive the situation. There have been days I have thought about how much “easier” it would be to head off to work every day and get space from Lillie. Then Lillie looks at me with adoring eyes and gives me a great big Lillie hug and tells me how much she loves me. “You are the best mommy!” She tells me with loving eyes. I tell myself to savor this moment and put it in a box in my mind. I will remember this moment when she is tantruming on the floor!
I hear Lillie wake up on the monitor and I feel myself hold my breath. I am hoping that happy Lillie is awakening. You never know how Lillie will wake up. She smiles and says “hi mama. What are we doing today?” It seems like something so minor to you but to me that is the pressure sentence. What amazing plans do I have for Lillie today? I don’t want to disappoint my child. I love having fun with her. I love taking her places and seeing friends. We also all know that the errands don’t do themselves and the house doesn’t magically take care of itself. Let’s not talk about the endless amounts of laundry that five people create for me. I tell Lillie that I have to get some errands done and that she can be my special helper. She is less then amused. She wants to hear me tell her we are going to the zoo or ballet or something she has labeled fun for her. When did it get harder? She used to be amused by going to target with me. She used to love going to Wegmans with me. What happened? They age out of errands and I have arrived to that place with all of my children!
Seth, Max and Ella head out the door and I battle Lillie to get dressed and out the door. I learned quickly that if I involve Ella and Lillie in the outfit decision making process they are much more cooperative in getting dressed. My son Max could care less what he wears and just wants comfy shorts and a tshirt to throw on and head to school.
Lillie whines in the car that she doesn’t want to go to Wegmans and Target. Why do we have mommy guilt? “Can’t someone babysit me? I don’t want to go with you?” I am sad that she doesn’t want to go with me and feel badly that I am dragging her around with me. I reassure myself that I will play with her when we get home and that it is ok to get things done! I can’t snap my fingers and get the food and supplies I need even though that would be an awesome mama super power to have!
We walk into Target and Lillie screams at the top of her lungs that she wants to go to the toy section. When I had Max that would have embarrassed me. By child #3 I am actually floored if someone gives me a look. “Don’t you know what toddlers are like?” is the thought that now runs through my head at a store. I used to run out of the store with Max. I think back to that and laugh at myself and at Lillie who is now screaming at me to put her in the back of the cart. I ask Lillie to use please and put her in the cart. The goal is to raise nice polite children. Trust me when I tell you that I work hard on this goal!
I grab some of the stuff on my list ignoring Lillie’s constant demand for the toy section. I finally reassure her that we are heading there but that she is just looking today. For those of you who have been to my house you have seen the big bins of toys. We have enough! We don’t need to add to the mess we already have flowing at home. Lillie is loving every baby alive doll and baby she finds. She is eyeing the shopkins shelf full of new shopkins! We don’t need anymore they are all over my house! My little ponies, princesses, make up, play doh…..get me out of the toy section without buying anything!
We escape target and head to Wegmans. Lillie is less then amused and cries when I get to the parking lot. I actually consider going home but why would I give her that much control. Who is in charge? Don’t laugh I know what you are all thinking!
One of our neighbors works at Wegmans and comes over to say hello and give Lillie a banana. Good, I tell myself! A banana will keep her happy for five minutes! Oh wait, I don’t want to distract and please her with food! Not the lesson I want her to learn! It is amazing how us mothers use food as a distraction! A cookie, a bowl of goldfish, whatever it takes to keep them quiet and happy. Can we say survival?!
I am a Wegmans pro (unless they decide to move things) and I fly through Wegmans at super mommy speed as Lillie begs to get out of the cart. Crap I almost made it out in super speed. Why am I always in a hurry I ask myself? The biggest lesson I have learned as a parent is to PICK MY BATTLES! I do not have enough strength to argue with everything and everything isn’t worth arguing about. Lillie slows me down out of the cart but I amuse her and let her walk down the aisles. Let’s just say by the time I get home and unpacked I am dripping sweat and exhausted. “I want to walk. I want to buckle myself. I want a cookie. I want another cookie. I want to put the food on the belt. I want to sign for you. I want I want I want. ” There is very little silence in my life. Embrace it. Enjoy it. She will be in kindergarten before you blink I tell myself as we walk into the house.
Lillie and I are pooped and cuddle to read books. She throws the book at me and my blood boils. Breathe, just breathe I tell myself. This is a battle to pick! Safety comes first and she decked me with a book. I scoop her up and drag her to time out. She absolutely freaks out when I take her to time out. It is just time out but I am glad she doesn’t like it. That means it is an effective consequence! Let’s just say this is not the only time that she was in time out today. By the time Seth comes home from work daily he sees the Lillie exhaustion all over me. I work so hard to be calm all day. When I am calm and sweet it goes so much better. We all know this is not an easy task!
Seth is very protective and when Lillie is mean to me or Max or Ella he loses it. He walks through the door in his power suit and tie and I feel the mighty Seth walk through the door. I see how he is standing and looking at Lillie tantruming and I signal to him with my eyes to stay calm. I know he wants to yell at her. I can tell by his stance. He usually can read my face. I love my husband with my whole heart and I know he just wants Lillie to behave! She is three I tell him over and over. Pick your battles as I see him begin to fight with Lillie over wearing the right shoes. Seriously? I can’t take another Lillie meltdown. “This is why I go to work,” he tells me as if I don’t know this.
We sit down at 10:00 at night and debrief. Seth looks at me and he knows it isn’t working. He knows the social worker hat is on his wife and that we are about to have a counseling session……
Seth tends to be the strict one and I tend to be the soft one. You know that saying “wait till daddy gets home!” It definitely applies to my family. However, I know better! I know that kids need a ton of love and attention but they also need discipline. I also know the power of our words. Seth and I start to process all the things we say to ourselves and to Lillie:
She is so hard.
The three’s suck! Can we get to the four’s!
Lillie is a brat.
Lillie doesn’t share.
Lillie isn’t nice to me…..
We are sending negative messages into the universe and to Lillie. Time to change! Seth and I agree to give Lillie and the world a positive message:
Lillie is so sweet.
Lillie is a good listener.
We can do this and Lillie deserves this! We will report back to you soon! Wish us luck as we continue on our amazing fun crazy wonderful exhausting parenting journey!
I wouldn’t trade it for the world!