Whether your kid is two or three or some month-variation in-between (and sometimes earlier or later), the whole toddler stage is a raw deal. A toddler is constantly frustrated that they lack the ability to fully express themselves, while parents are rung out from trying to keep up with the roller coaster of emotions they’re suddenly experiencing. When they're losing it over the color the cup you just handed them or that they can't jump off of the table or some other completely reasonable request, you know you can't lose yours. Still, that doesn't stop you from experiencing the things every new mom thinks about her toddler. Sure, you might feel guilty and, yes, those thoughts might be somewhat, um, negative? But whatever it is you're thinking about your toddler while they have a ridiculous tantrum, definitely doesn't make you a bad mom. but you’re thinking it, and that can cause some guilt. Trust me, you’re not alone.
If new mothers would forced to think nothing but lovely forgiveness thoughts while their toddlers throws something at their faces, they'd burn out immediately. Well, at least I would. Frustration and anger are valid emotions and it’s too exhausting to squash them down and pretend they don't exist, all in the name of guilt or some fictitious mom stereotype. Obviously I don’t let those "negative" feelings manifest in a harmful way, but I don’t beat myself up for throwing some shade at my kids from the comfort of my mind.
The nature of toddlers is one of button-pushing and boundary-pushing and to-the-brink-of-insanity-pushing. It's just the name of the toddler game, and it’s how they learn about the world and its limits (not to mention yours). So, during this time of wonderful discovery, you might have some of these thoughts about toddlers. Have no fear, they definitely don’t make you a bad mom:
"My Kid Is Nothing But A Slobbery Pirate..."
They pillage our plates because "mom's food" always looks better than their own (even though it’s the exact same stuff). Pirate! Then, they can’t even keep the stuff in their mouths and, instead, spew it down their shirts and across the table. Unruly, like Pirates!
"...Or A Lawless Biker"
We give them wheels and expect them to obey safety and traffic rules? Not a chance. The freedom their trikes afford them is intoxicating and they're powerless to fight against it for the sake of our sanity. Luckily, we are raising our kids in Queens, where they are forced to stop at every corner so I can get them safely across the street. I feel for those suburban parents whose sidewalks stretch on for blocks.
"My Kid Is An Egomaniac"
Sometimes, I really resent the fact that my children constantly think it's all about them. How could they be so selfish and demanding? Don’t they just want to sit and play and nap and splash in the tub and go to sleep? I was duped by baby product commercials, I guess. As I was washing cups and wiping the toilet seat down for the 8 millionth time that day, it was hard to feel grateful that my kids were robust creatures, curious about their world, and wanting to pick my brain all the time. It’s up to me to teach them to consider other people's feelings and needs.
"My Kid Is A Snack Addict And This Can't Be Healthy"
They refuse meals but beg for tiny morsels of food that can be dispensed from “spill-proof” containers (biggest lie ever) at all hours of the day. Should we just do away with dinner altogether, and dispense teaspoons of food into their mouths every 12 minutes around the clock, and if so, does insurance cover it?
"What A Klutz"
I know they’re still adjusting to being upright and finding their equilibrium but the rate at which they wipe out just trying to get from one side of the living room or dining room or kitchen or bedroom or any place ever, to the other, is comical. I try not to laugh, especially when it makes them cry, but sometimes it’s pure slapstick.
"I'm Turning My Kid Into A Screen Junkie"
Did you hear the one about the toddler who walked by a TV screen and didn’t stop to watch? No? That’s because it never happens. It’s like they enter some fugue state whenever Bubble Guppies starts.
"What A Cheater"
Anyone who’s attempted to play a board game with a 3-year-old knows the deal; these hooligans are pushing their game pieces freely along the path, with no regard to whose turn it is or the rules of the game or the fact that you'd be winning if they didn't consider this a free-for-all.
"What A Gross Cretin"
Toddlers love mud and things they deposit into the toilet and dead bugs and spitting for no discernible reason and wiping buggers all over the place and, yes, even playing with their poop. All of it disgusts me and I just have to suck it up. This behavior is the natural prompt to teach good hygiene, I suppose, and my son’s daycare really hammered it home (probably more than I would have been able to if I was home with him). Now, as a 6-year-old, he gives me no argument about cleaning up. (Though he is still fascinated with dirt and bathroom humor.)
"What An Unimaginative Bully"
“Mine. Mine. Mine.” Repeat.
What is the worst sound in the world when someone is not in any actual danger? The toddler whine: a screechy frequency of shrill melancholy and entitlement.
"My Kid Is Bad To The Bone"
Having this thought can sort of scare me, but I can’t deny that I didn’t truly feel this way a time or two. Sometimes the meltdown is so epic, the tantrum seems so violent, or the obnoxious behavior spans for way too many days that you can't help but think, “My kid is terrible and they'll never go back to being that sweet baby they once were.”
However, barring any signs that indicate there is some significant emotional or physical issue that requires a doctor’s care, my toddler’s evil ways is what defined me as a parent. Babies need care and attention, but toddlers need rules, logic, boundaries, and trust. I don’t think having a bad thought about my toddler made me a bad mom. In fact, those thoughts just made me realize the reality of parenthood, and how important it is that I pay attention to how my kid is learning and growing and evolving. I don’t really believe my kids were “bad.” I did, though, get scared that if I didn’t parent them according to my values and what I thought was right and just, they wouldn’t become the good people I want them to be.