I used to think (before I became a parent) that being a parent was exhausting because your kid couldn’t sleep through the night and if you could just get a full night’s sleep without “get up and feed” or “deal with nightmares” or “sick kid” (the constant “sick kid” syndrome). I have learned, this is patently untrue. An awake toddler is exhausting.
First there is the “I randomly don’t like what’s happening” tantrums. Tantrums in general are exhausting, but when you know the reason and anticipate the fight you can mentally brace yourself. It’s the “you were just laughing and giggling and now you’re crying – what the hell happened?” fits that are hard. Now, I am very lucky and almost always can instantly mentally pivot to see what set my kid off – it’s almost always about not having choice (shocker, my kid is stubborn and opinionated).
I try to give him as much choice as possible, but this means that he expects his way. That isn’t always possible. Going to school or eating more than just watermelon… he can’t do everything his way. Putting on pants to go outside. I try to make even these things choices – “would you like to eat some chicken or some green beans now?” or “would you like to wear this pair of jeans or these joggers?” (yes, they make toddler joggers – they look super comfy).
Then we have the sudden-shifting-games. He’s only two, I don’t actually expect his games to follow rules. I don’t want his game to be tightly structured. I want him to explore the world his own way and not based on previous expectations and rules. I want him to be creative and follow his intuition. It’s hard to follow. When we are playing together the game can get stuck on “build the Lego train, take apart the train” for five minutes and then without any warning turn into “run around the house as fast as legs can carry.”
The people who love little kids and work with them as a career… man they are amazing people. To follow those little brains and to keep patience all the time must take a really huge heart. It’s exhausting! And I’m not even doing it full-time (yay daycare…)! I think back to my mother (a stay-at-home mom) and just admire how much effort and love she put into every single day. I’m sure I would adjust if it was my “career” (stay-at-home-mom), but right now I’m just too tired to imagine it very far.
I might just go take a nap.