Open WhatsApp first thing in the morning and one can find numerous quotes, pictures, messages and GIFs praising and glorifying the “MAAs”. Especially we Indians are a pro when it comes to transforming our mothers into perfect goddesses full of compassion and love. One such message today read something like “A mother always understands what a child cannot say” and I thought it cannot get any wrong than this.
Mothers are just simple, imperfect humans who make mistakes by a dozen every day and learn from them. They are also equally clueless many times and often have to rely on their gut feeling and instinct while handling the children. And imagine if their kids are toddlers going through their “Terrible Twos”, then one can only imagine the pain the mother goes through with no solution in sight.
Just a couple of days ago, I was getting ready for office and was pretty sure that Narayani would be looking out for all the signs and usual changes in my activities to realize that her mother would be leaving her shortly. Yet, I made sure that she was not around when I changed and while leaving, she was tucked inside her Dadi’s room. But my bad and I forgot my keys inside the house for which I had to come back and when I did, there she was looking directly at me realizing in a fraction of second that mommy dearest had fooled her and was leaving her for full day. A split second of pause and suddenly the entire house was reverberating under the noise impact of her tantrums. She was wailing, shouting, throwing things around, kicking on the floor and no amount of consoling and comforting was proving to be any help. I was in two minds – whether to go to the office or not. Encouraged a little by her Dadi, I somehow freed my hands from her grip and left her – crying in her Dadi’s lap. I was just contemplating what just happened in the lift but the moment I reached ground floor, my mobile rang and I could just hear her Dadi asking me to come back in the middle of her loud wails and cries. I had no choice. I called by boss and informed her about my leave. I went home and clutched her to my heart. Almost 10 minutes after she stopped crying, I could still feel the minute hiccoughs which were coming up frequently.
It was after her second birthday when my daughter started throwing tantrums regularly and at unexpected times. I ignored them initially thinking them as some random mood swings. But when it did not cease even after two months, I smelled the turkey.
It just took me two days to come to the grand realization – The Dreaded Terrible Twos have arrived.
The next two days were spent frantically reading information and preparing myself mentally for what was to follow. After going through many of the stories of other moms, I finally felt that I could handle this. This was pretty common. But one week down the line, I realized the vanity of it all – no information, no knowledge, no preparation can be enough to prepare you for the “Terrible Twos”. At such points I felt terribly ashamed of the insufficient and absolutely inadequate child-rearing resources I had. In spite of tons of information and so much of support and love available at home, I was left helpless, incompetent and completely drained of my energy to handle the psychological and emotional upheavals of my tiny, little toddler. Through this entire roller coaster, I realized that the toddler is going through a metamorphosis – its apparent that the mother has to go through “hers” as well. The theoretical knowledge is not enough, she has to appear for the practical exam as well. She can do as many mistakes but in the end she has to pass without “passing out.”
It is almost six months now since my daughter started the drama. And I am now pretty much able to sustain it without having a nervous breakdown. Based on my own experience, here are some of the batons which I learnt all through the way to ensure your sanity during these testing times.
- It can last longer than you think
Children in the age of 2-3 are going through a major psychological growth by learning and understanding their feelings and emotions. They are easily overwhelmed and frustrated when they are unable to express themselves correctly. They are even trying to make themselves accustomed to routines and even a slight change of environment can make them lose it all. So, the time taken by them to actually assimilate the entire influx of new emotions can be varied and it can last as long as two years. Be prepared and practice patience.
- No logic will work. Accept that.
Yes. Try console, comfort, bargain, negotiate, love, scare, do anything when your toddler is all wailing and shouting. Nothing AT ALL will work. Because the kid is not in the state to accept any more external stimulus. His mind is blocked. You have to let it pass. Period. The best you can do is hold him near to you as much as possible and assure him that whatever happens you are with him. If you try and scold him or leave him alone, he can get even more aggressive. He might also feel abandoned. So it’s important you be with him. Some experts also suggest to avoid eye contact and ignore his wailing completely. Your instinct is the best judge.
- Dont take the “guilty” trip.
This is especially applicable for working mothers as they can immediately get into the “this is happening because he doesn’t get enough of me” mode. The guilt, remorse, self-cursing etc etc all follows after this. Please stop. It is not your fault. In fact it’s not a fault at all. It’s a phase of every child and it’s normal. You have to understand that you are doing the best you can and will always keep doing it. What the kid is going through is necessary for his emotional and intellectual growth and in the process if you have to be a little practical and “cold blooded” it is ok. You are not actually depriving him of any of his righteous love and your company. Just hold on to your patience and practice meditation and you will be fine.
- Expect the unexpected.
So when you think that you have completely prepared for your trip to the super market and feel that there is no chance the toddler will throw a fit, you are in for a huge shock. The tantrum can happen anytime, anywhere irrespective of whatever preparations you have done. And it can last a tad bit longer than usual and no amount of bargain can work for sometimes. Yes. I know. It can be a nightmare – first to calm down the kid and then to deal with the embarrassment. But this is how it is going to be. You just cannot predict it and honestly there is no reason to get embarrassed whatsoever. Just think that majority of people in that supermarket have been parents themselves and they will quite identify with you when you try your best to get a hold of your baby. So just relax and put all your energy in pacifying the kid. Take him out at a comfortable, quiet place for some time and if required, even cancel your rest of the trip and go home.
- It will not have any negative behavioral impact on the kid.
Many mothers fear that this stubborn and adamant behavior in their toddlers might continue way till they become older. Some are even scared if their kids have any major psychological issues. But try always remember that this is just a phase. Like teens, like midlife crisis, like menopause, this is one of “Those” phases. And it will eventually and definitely pass. So do not take any of the toddler’s behavior to your heart and enjoy the phase. Even if it’s a tad bit tiring, it is a time when your kid is learning so many new things and experiencing phenomenal growth. So as much as possible, be a distant observer and relax.