Because I can’t be the only one.
They say hindsight is 20/20. I remember when I had my first baby, and I felt like a flailing mess. Now when I look back at that time, I see a mom who was so put together. She had time to home make all-natural organic baby food, hold the baby for every single nap, never ever “cry-it-out”, nurse ever-so poised under her dainty cover with a perfectly packed designer diaper bag in tow. Going out to dinner as a family and attending an adult function was completely plausible. I still struggled, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t get much sleep at all and my own self-care vanished into oblivion. But I could also look at any mom of toddlers and roll my eyes at their obnoxious noises. In the same way any non-parent can think they’ll be so different when it’s their own, it’s pretty easy to think the same about toddlerdom. But there are always the better-behaved toddlers who naturally are more compliant and even-mannered, just the same as babies, as I’m sure I’ll come to know with teens.
Now, I am a mom of not one, but two strong-willed BOY boys (soon to be three, assuming his personality follows suit). They don’t care if you’re trying to concentrate, shop, read, or use the bathroom. They want to yell and run and explore. The tricky thing about toddlerdom is that these little people want to learn and do everything, but boundaries, rules and expectations are still a work in progress. (Won’t they always be?) And with that work in progress, punishment is tricky. Toddlers don’t remember rules very easily, and they can’t be held to the same standard as a “big kid” in that regard. So when we are out grabbing groceries and I scurry through the aisles and grab a box of crackers to subdue them, I know that it’s just a phase. I know that they won’t always yell “BEEP BEEP!” to someone trying to do their own shopping. I give them all of the grace and patience I can muster, while also trying to teach them how to be a polite, friendly, and a generally socially acceptable person. But I also, very importantly, know that I can’t expect anyone else to know these things. I can’t expect a stranger (especially one without kids) to understand.
So, we stay home a lot.
We go to family-friendly destinations designed for people like us in mind. And like everything else, this is a phase. But when we jump out of these destinations and venture from home into the unknown, we are a walking circus. Even if we don’t get direct comments or looks, it’s obvious that I’m out of my element and flailing around, once again. So often I get a, “You’re hands are full.” Which is sweet, but sour all in the same. Because I know that my boys are loud. I know that they are running crazy and breaking out of my grip to run around a parking lot. I know my boys sing loudly and laugh loudly and run and kick and jump and dance. And we are a walking circus. Flailing around.
…In the same breath, I would never change their desire for adventure, activity, and fun.
Sure, I’ll turn purple in my face and scream like a 500-pound man when they get loose in the parking lot and I’ll punish them when it’s necessary. But, I will never alter their loud, loving, crazy way of navigating this world.
We are a walking circus. It is just our current phase.