Originally posted Jan. 11, 2008
Parenting isn't for sissies, but sometimes I feel like one.
I remember watching helplessly, while coping with
pregnancy-induced nausea, as my oldest, then two, mixed juice
shaken out of his sippy cup into blue Play-do, then smeared the
gloppy goo all over my "What to Expect: The Toddler Years"
The irony wasn't lost on me.
Later, at three, Noah developed a penchant for bolting out the
door wearing nothing but his Scooby-Doo skivvies the minute I sat
down to nurse his baby sister, Holly. My husband, Todd,
considering the myth of the terrible two's, proclaimed that "Two
can't hold a candle to three."
No kidding. A three-year-old is just a big two-year-old
Not wanting to come undone (or maybe I should say be
outdone), I checked out a library book titled "Your Three Year Old:
Friend or Enemy" by Louise Bates Ames. The title still amuses
me. What amuses me more is that I'd ever hoped to read it at
all, while I had an energetic toddler and newborn to care
for. The best I could do was to quickly scan a few pages in
our driveway while the kids dozed in their car seats after our trip
home from the library. While I never actually read it
cover to cover, just having the book handy somehow bolstered my
confidence. The library didn't agree with my methods,
however, and late notices soon became late fines greater than the
book's replacement cost. When I finally pulled up to the
library's drive-thru book-drop, I found myself thumbing through the
pages for a few desperate moments, hoping some kernel of wisdom
would leap out at me before the kids had meltdowns in the
backseat. I felt giddy, like I was cramming for a big
I'm happy to report that I've survived the "wild three's" with
both of my kids, and actually really loved those fleeting earliest
years of their lives. Even as I mopped up the gloppy goo,
feeling utterly outnumbered by one little person, I recognized just
how absurdly funny the moment would be - later.
I am passionate about the value of confessing my own frailties
as a parent, and the impact these revelations can have on readers
who might not otherwise consider reaching out, only to discover
that their feelings are perfectly normal. I make no bones
about the fact that in spite of my training, I, too, occasionally
find myself 'on my knees' begging for mercy. After all, none
of my family therapy manuals mentions how to cope when you're so
tired from midnight feedings that you accidentally brush your teeth
Believe me, I've looked.
In spite of the mishaps and messes, I marvel at my luck and good
fortune. I have two beautiful, inquisitive children, with
whom I get to explore everything from the muddy sandbox in which a
once two-year-old Noah said he was making "twinkle soup," to the
mysteries of the universe, but parenting can be darned hard
sometimes. Take, for example, the time I spotted my then
five-year-old daughter Holly doing cartwheels on the high beam for
the very first time, with her long hair threatening to trip her
up. Frustrated that another child got a turn on the balance
beam while I refastened her hair into the uncooperative ponytail
holder, Holly announced "You're ruining my life!" I humbly
tiptoed back out of the gym with my proverbial tail tucked safely
between my legs, made a mental note to cancel the cable Disney
channel which had spawned her fabulous verbiage, and considered
burying my family therapy books in the backyard - where at least
they'll make good mulch.
A good belly laugh of recognition goes a long way toward making
a hard day a little easier. I hope my stories give you a few
belly laughs and better days
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Batavia.
See more of Jennifer's stories here.
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