I sat on the floor and I cried. My two year old hugged me an patted me on the cheek. He did this mere moments after throwing his plate on the floor screaming “NO” and yelling at the top of his lungs. I cried because I was failing him. I cried because he deserves patience and empathy and understanding and I had significantly less than he demanded of me that day.
Here we were, two people with a bond so strong it can only be described with motherly cliches. In this moment however, we both were at peek frustration. Communication for us is difficult in that he does not often have the words to express himself and I am left to interpret emotions, gestures, and actions. Sometimes I excel at this decoding, sometimes I don’t. I’m pretty sure this is true and typical of many parents and caregivers but it feels anything but in that moment.
There has to be a better way.
This is something I often tell myself. I ask myself in those moments of peace when everything has calmed down, how can I help him cope with this situation if it comes up again? But what I really need to ask in that same breath is what will help ME cope with this situation if it comes up again? The answers to the first question are always more clear to me. I struggle with the second.
As he explores his world, his relationship to his world, tests boundaries, and attempts to communicate, it is up to me to provide a safe space to do that and develop those skills. This is why when things break down it is easy to feel the failure personally.
But it’s not failure, it’s human.
It’s being a parent and learning what that means.
I cried on the floor that day, and other days before it, because I felt defeated and unqualified. But my two year old patted me on the cheek. He gave me a hug and he continued to love me despite my struggles. His behavior didn’t change nor did his struggles, his tantrums didn’t stop but nor did his love or acceptance.
Much much later that day he called me “Mommy” for the first time and reminded me that we are moving forward even on the days when it doesn’t feel that way.