This “Two” Shall Pass

From birth, heck from pregnancy, most parents are automatically in a competition with each other…especially mothers.  And it is not in our nature to air our dirty laundry.  Doing so is a sign of weakness to the competition. After all, our kid’s perfectness is a direct reflection of our perfection. But for the sake of creating empathy among parents, especially mothers, I am airing my laundry today. Most of us like to think the rest of the world operates in little pockets of utopia where their children are perfect, the parents have the heart of Super Nanny, and life goes as planned. My life has been quite the contrary since the terrible twos became a guest at our house. A dear friend of mine shared the following quote with me which I will PG-13 rate for the sensitive folks.

They are called the “terrible twos” because” f*#&ing awful” doesn’t start with a T.

Quite frankly, I couldn’t have said it better myself. The mother who texted this quote to me is a top-notch mother in my book and I appreciated her rawness! Seriously, what happens at two? And I thought colic was bad!

Borrowing from an 80s movie reference, my cute child goes from Gizmo to Gremlin with something as simple as the wrong Sippy cup filled with apple juice when he wanted orange juice.  For the past few weeks, our days go something like this. At 6:45 he wakes up. Before his eyes are open he says “nack” which means he wants a snack…AKA breakfast. No worries, Prince Cooper, your Gogurt and juice await you. By 6:47 he is telling me “NO TEETH” and “NO SHOES” which means he has no intentions of brushing his teeth or wearing his shoes today. The clock hands seem to be moving at warp speed as I try to finish getting ready while he downs his “nack”. I hear his feet hit the floor the moment he finishes.  He makes his way crying to the bathroom like I have been gone for weeks. He begins climbing my legs. I swear it is like he is trying to crawl back in the womb some mornings. A few minutes later, we have a WWF wrestling match to get his clothes and shoes on. I won’t even go into the details of how the socks have to be “just right” so they don’t hurt his feet and how the tags on his shirt itch his back.

By this point in the morning, the cat is standing at the door meowing because she wants outside. Don’t we all want to escape Miss Kitty? Well, the luxury of a house cat affords you the opportunity of enduring this fine morning with the family. If anyone is going outside to be alone it is me. For goodness sake cat, you have the house to yourself all day! Next, comes the tooth-brushing smack down. And, really, what’s the point….these stupid things are going to fall out in a few years anyways. All of these morning activities, which may I add, are usually done with me wearing dress clothes and heels!

Fast forward to leaving the house, round two continues  as I try to pile drive him into the car seat. His body automatically morphs into a stiff board the minute the car door opens. As soon as I get one arm in the restraint, the other is out.  Off we go to daycare and work…awww…some peace and quiet. Crap!  The sun is in his eyes. Now he is crying again and yelling “NO SUN.” A part of me secretly thanks God that his beautiful beams of sun are causing temporary angst for this holy terror. Maybe some angelic beams will penetrate him.  Out of the car to daycare we go, a little clingy-but he is always happy to see his teachers. Off to work I go, usually sweating like I am having a menopausal moment. Rushing in the door I manage to greet everyone with a smile on my face despite the war zone I just went through.  Who knows if my clothes match? Heck, I may not even have all of my clothes on. I probably have Gogurt in my hair or splattered on my rear. None-the-less, I am here and ready to conquer the day.

Fast forward….the work day is done and let’s face it…some days are filled with adults who appear to have never exited the terrible twos. Long gone are the memories of the morning stress. Off I go to daycare to pick up my pride and joy. I’m ready to see my little munchkin and spend quality time with him. I am greeted with a big smile. A good sign, right? Yes! He has had a good day. Or at least that’s the report. Maybe his teachers lie to me and act pleasant as if he is a good child for them.  Off we head to the car. Noooo! My holy terror is back for a WWF rematch thrashing as he goes in the car seat. I’m really beginning to wonder…does this kid hate me? People in the parking lot probably think I have taken a child that doesn’t belong to me. The little demon from earlier in the day reappears and the remainder of the night is a battle of wills. Whining, crying, more whining….picking our poor 12 year old cat up with grilling tongs, yelling “NO JESUS” and “NO AMEN” when we say our prayers…and on and on and on. Is it bedtime yet?  Close enough…off to bed we go….all four of us snug in the bed (me, my husband, toddler, and cat).  Please Lord, don’t let tomorrow be Groundhog Day.

I know the terrible twos are a phase and this too shall pass. I wonder why the twos are so terrible? Is the Devil a two year old? If so, I never want to meet him. On average, my child has more sweet and funny moments than “terrible two” moments or we would be looking into a refund policy. Luckily, his cute Gizmo moments, outweigh his Gremlin tendencies. But, unfortunately, those angelic moments, right now, often occur when he is with other folks.  As a parent, I guess this is a labor of love step to condition your heart for unconditional love.

As my husband walked out the door wrestling our angel all the way to the car this morning he said, “I wish we could come home and the Super Nanny’s car would be in our driveway”.  To which my child said “NO NANNY”. Sure, we might be a case for the Super Nanny…but with a lot of love, a ton of patience, and a few ounces of wine…the terrible twos will be distance memories and replaced by the ““what’s that threes”, the obnoxious puberty years, the brainless teenage years, the experimental college years, etc. I air my laundry because life isn’t perfect and mine isn’t either. So if you are a mother of a two year old (or a mother of any age child), take a deep breath and realize that more of us have been to this place than we will ever admit. Keeping moving forward. The goal is to survive the terrible twos and not create an adult who has a persistence case of the terrible twos. The world has enough of those already!

Today my spoon is full of terrible twos. Hmmm…I wonder what my WWF Mommy Stage name could be?

Waving the White Flag to Ceasefire Mommy Wars

How can I resist blogging about the recent raging mommy wars caught in the midst of the presidential debate (Thank you Hilary Rosen/Ann Romney)? I have to ask one question. Ladies are we really at war? I propose we are not at war about motherhood. In actuality, the start of this war begin on the play ground somewhere between cart wheels and “Say Say Old playmate” chants. The war starts young and on the battlefield is jealously, fear, and unrealized self worth. While the boys were slugging it out on the playground and eventually got over it, we instead internalized it. And some have added fertilizer to it for years until it grew into the “mean girl” syndrome.  For some females, this war ends as we grow up to be empowered women. Unfortunately, the others keep torturing themselves with trivial matters and the playground becomes the “home” and the “workplace” where the same vicious acts of pulling hair and name calling turn into toxic sabotage and emotional abuse in adult life. For women who are confident in their daily routine of staying at home or going into the workplace…there is no war.

Let’s be real. The words “working” and ” mother” are an oxymoron. Whether your workplace is in the home or outside of the home we are all working our keesters off! All mothers have a lot in common. We need to take better care of ourselves, our kids teeter between sweet heavenly angels and demonic monsters, our kids get sick, our kids eat their boogers (which may be why they get sick), and our kids need our love.

My “bestest” friends are mothers of all varieties. I have friends that adore staying at home with their children and creating finger-paint masterpieces that rival the works of Monet or Picasso. I have friends who are successful entrepreneurs and run their own companies. I have friends who give of their time by volunteering to churches and non-profit organizations. Whichever the path chosen-it was just that, a choice to strike a balance that meets that individual women’s needs. The stay at home mothers are not uneducated, lazy women who stay in their PJs all day and eat bon bons. Nor, or the mothers working outside the home selfish women who sloth their kids off for someone else to raise. We are all mothers trying to make a good run at this thing called motherhood. It’s a delicate balancing act of self-actualization, insanity, love, guilt, and purpose.

Sure, as a mother who works outside the home, I loathe for a day of not dealing with the “outside” world and making a good batch of chocolate chip cookies (lets be real-I would burn them and have to make a late night mad-dash to Krogers for a bag of Chips A Hoy); and likewise, my friends who stay at home loathe for a day of high heels, Starbucks, and deadlines. But at the end of the day we are all trying to get to the same place-laying our head on our pillow at night (preferably uninterrupted sleep) knowing we were the best mom we could possibly be that day.

So for the mean girls having the mommy wars-I say grow up. Get off the play ground. Join the rest of us in our attempt to raise children in a world that values what every individual mom and person contributes to society. Join the rest of us in creating better communities. Join the rest of us who rally for better education and healthcare for all children. Join the rest of us in fighting for family friendly workplaces that impact moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Put down the double edge sword that is piercing the life out of you and make a choice for the type of mom you want to be and live it!

Today my spoon is full of admiration for all the mothers who work so hard to provide a world full of opportunity and hope for their children. I would also like to share a spoon and provide a taste of humble pie to all the mean girls at war-life is too short ladies-get happy.