By PENNY SHIPWAY
I have become that woman.
You know the one. She lives two doors down and she yells at her children.
Until a few months ago I hated that woman. Despised her actually. May have even called out the window to her once or twice, telling her to stop abusing her kids.
Don’t think she heard, though. Too busy yelling at her children.
But things have changed in our house lately. I have changed.
I’m now the proud owner of a two year old.
I say proud because I love her unconditionally. And boy does she make me laugh. My friends think she’s terribly cute.
But when she isn’t being cute, she is terrible.
I don’t think anyone can really explain why a toddler’s tantruming is so upsetting to a parent, unless you have parented yourself.
Children are a part of you and when a child is upset, you get upset. Because simply put, you don’t want them to be upset.
Today my toddler wanted to sit on the coffee table and eat her hummus and carrots, and drink her milk from a cup with a straw – naked.
The naked bit I wasn’t worried about. It comes with the territory of living with a nudist. That bit is OK.
But if you tell her to take her snacks and precariously-positioned milk (just a centimetre from cascading onto my new Freedom rug) to the kitchen table, a war has been waged.
There’s crying, screaming, stubbornness and confusion.
And it’s not just a little sook. This is a mouth-so-wide-I-can-see-your-tonsils type of screaming.
The sound that can generate from this little person is astronomical. I have actually considered ear plugs.
I take a deep breath and instruct her that her food and drink is to be enjoyed at the kitchen table, not on the coffee table.
There is more crying, screaming, stubbornness and confusion.
The naughty corner is given a mention.
Sometimes it’s impossible to win, so I push on to more pressing matters: my nine month old needs a change.
Two minutes later I turn around and my two year old is smearing hummus all over my beautiful (and not cheap) Freedom rug!
There is a swimming pool of milk drenching my coffee table, dripping over the edge and onto, you guessed it, my beloved (did I mention it was Freedom?) rug.
“Right! Daisy, I won’t tell you again, you eat and drink your food at the table!!’
I can feel the neighbours’ ears pressed against their windows. In the back of my mind I know they are listening. I’m sure a curtain was pushed to the side. Perhaps someone stepped onto their balcony thinking ‘who is that bitch yelling at her kids?’
Frankly, I don’t care. I’m tired and worn.
I throw what’s left of the hummus and milk in the sink and commence the day’s 50,000th clean up job.
My neighbours probably think I’ve given her a good thrashing the way she is reacting. But that is not true.
I don’t smack her. And I never have.
That’s not to say I won’t find it necessary in the future, but I’m well aware my two year old is still a baby and I know in my heart it’s not right to smack someone who doesn’t understand.
But just because I pride myself on not giving her a good clip around the ears, doesn’t mean I haven’t lost my temper.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m up to this job of being a mum. It’s certainly the hardest job I’ve ever had. Definitely the most patience-testing.
I will be the first to put my hand up and say I can’t handle tantrums. The rest I’m cool with. But tantrums (and two year olds) can send me into a panic attack at the best of times.
Tantrums don’t discriminate.
We can be at the doctor’s, the supermarket, the park, the car, at friend’s homes, and out comes the tonsil-wagging monster. The tears flow, mum gets upset. We all go home.
Once I rang my husband crying saying ‘I don’t know what to do with her’! That was when she was having one of her first tantrums.
Now I’m a seasoned pro. I still yell and I still get upset, but I’m getting better at stopping them in their tracks. Here, have a fresh strawberry (winner right there).
Toddlers are an oxymoron: painfully beautiful.
I once asked a friend who has a 10 year old, ‘what’s the best stage?’
‘Um, none?’ She joked, then said ‘two year olds. Because they are funny’.
And she’s not wrong.
Toddlers are effing-freaking-hilarious.
One minute I may be almost in tears with frustration, the next minute I’m rolling around with happy tears because my two year old has dressed herself up in my shoes, jewellery and hat, and doing impersonations of me in her garbled speech.
Our resident mini comedian is filling the house with laughter and silliness. Just what it needed.
So we forgive her endlessly, and she sure does bring us a lot of joy.
So I’m sorry for yelling little monkey, mummy doesn’t mean it.
She just lost her cool. Just like you do.
Do you remember the terrible twos? What age did you find your kids most difficult to deal with?
Penny is a freelance writer and mother of two from brisbane. She likes long walks on the beach and is a firm believer of healthy body, healthy mind. She is totally addicted to celebrity biographies, peanut butter and red wine.