I’ve thought about writing a funny post about Reuben turning two, and the notorious side effects that come with a two year-old. But having given it some thought I’d rather talk about the change in our relationship over the past couple of weeks as he struggles to deal with his emotions, because actually this shift in behaviour and consequently our relationship has left me feeling a bit, well a little bit sad.
It’s no secret among friends that Reuben was a restless baby he suffered from colic and reflux and channelled this through crying loudly – a lot. It wasn’t the start to motherhood I had dreamed about in the months leading up to it and it took some time for me to accept. In fact I probably only really started to enjoy motherhood after the first year – of course I loved Reuben unconditionally and looking at him made my heart burst – but it was hard and I wasn’t mentally prepared for it.
From the age of one I found my stride and over the year we built this incredible relationship. I went back to work full-time but couldn’t cope with seeing so little of him and so quit to go freelance a couple of days a week so I wasn’t missing out. We found our groove and enjoyed spending our time together, I thought to myself “this is it, I’ve done it, I’ve got the best of both worlds and I’m coping yahooooo.”
Well this little bubble burst a couple of weeks ago when the notorious “terrible twos’ set in, I swear it was almost overnight. Now I am coping fine (gin/chocolate help) but it is really hard having a temperamental child who seems to be happy/reasonable one minute, then really quite upset the next. It is exhausting. It really is an I say “black” he says “white” scenario. My husband has often said “good luck” as he leaves for work (sod) and I have been known to close the door and begin counting down to when he is home.
While I could share all the tantrums that have happened (some of them have been cracking) we all know how two year olds behave and it’s because they can’t communicate their emotions fully, I just didn’t realise how personally I would take it. For the most part I think it’s mourning for the days when we would wake up and just do something without me thinking, “what is going to set him off today?” I have cried, I have asked friends if this is how it is (they’ve all said yes thank god, sort of) I have eaten so many carbohydrates I am now back on Dukan (balls), but I am learning.
For myself I’m realising that this behaviour isn’t a personal attack on me and it’s not just me going through it, which I did rationalise in my head but have found when I say to someone “this happened” quite often they say “that’s happened to me too” – that feels more reassuring. I’ve also learnt the importance of picking battles and letting go of the reins a bit. I felt that we were saying “no” a bit too often, so now I’m more of a yes person unless it presents danger or involves chocolate for dinner, which is requested for every meal daily. Sorry kid, still no.
Using chocolate for dinner as an example, to prevent a meltdown I tell him he can have a treat afterwards if he eats all of his dinner first, and then get him more involved in the dinner making process. Asking him to get bits out of the fridge for me, grating cheese (supervised, obviously), setting his place at the table etc. Now this has not resulted in a harmonious house by a long shot, the tantrums are still there, but it’s improved.
Because we have spent so much time together I think he knows when he has truly worn me down (and out), I seem to get more spontaneous, bigger cuddles than before, usually when we’ve had a day packed with all of the emotions. I find this encouraging because it assures me our strong bond is still there, it’s just lost its way a bit in a fog of two year-old emotions, but I think we will soon find our way, and hopefully be stronger than ever or until the next milestone…