Hey Exhausted Parent, I See You

Hi there, Saturday. I had big expectations for you.

Yesterday was such a good day. Like, really good. H was full of all that beautiful, inspiring energy toddlers possess. As I worked from home, I heard her bouncing around the house playing with her dad. She gave me kisses in between my meetings. She was invigorated from all those simple kid activities like going to the park, playing with her dog, and enjoying all that is life. From the fast approaching fall weather, to the turtles she was searching for in the pond.

Today, though, was quite different. From the time she got out of bed, I could tell it was going to be one of those days for my spirited kid. Everything started out pretty good, although her patience seemed to be wearing pretty thin if I didn’t meet her demands right away. Maybe my energy was off, too, from tossing and turning all night.

“Help me with Dora. She needs these clips in her hair.”

“Say ‘vroom vroom haha’ while I ride my scooter. Hold this for me.”

“Get me milk.”

I reminded her to say please and thank you and hoped for the best. You see, we are constantly working on teaching H how to use tools to support her self-regulation. Handling big emotions, transitions, the ups & downs of life, these are such a huge deal for everyone, let alone a toddler. Especially a toddler who is all in with her feelings. Incredibly high on life, or feeling all the pain and struggle. I get it.

And then our plans changed.

We decided against a night in a cabin in the hill country. She had been packing her little bag with figurines to prepare.

The crying, screaming, anxiety and frustration happened immediately.

“But I want to go to a cabin! I want to go now!” I reached out my arms to connect. She pushed me away and cried harder and louder. As I tried to put away laundry to distract myself and focus on what I could control, the sound of her screaming sent my sensory board into distress. The slamming of the doors, the constant “Mama, I need you” combined with her literally pushing me away, her need for space. Knowing that this would continue for the next thirty minutes to an hour.

So I broke down and cried. Felt like a complete failure. Here I am, a parent who writes articles for parents. Teachers. I give advice to support families in difficult times. I have all these kids that love to spend time with me. But my own child…it’s so much harder.

I’m learning my child as we grow together. She’s learning me.

So I write this as a therapeutic exercise and to tell other exhausted and broken down parents:

I see you. And you’re doing a hell of a good job.