Raising a toddler can be (at times) trying, tearful, and tumultuous. You know, kind of like a breakup. There are feelings, a barter-like exchange of household goods ("hand me the sharp fork and I'll give you this blunt spoon,") and clothing is usually thrown. It’s no wonder that, given the circumstances, cliché breakup lines can be used in everyday #momlife.
It’s not that I’m trying to do anything even close to breaking up with my toddler. I mean, I’m definitely not. That kid and I are in it for the long haul. However, sometimes it's easier to rely on tried and true phrases that oversimplify pretty complicated, frustrated, and exhausting feelings. See? Even the nastiest of breakups can serve a purpose. Plus, sometimes I’m gritting my teeth and I can’t think of anything else to say. When my mind goes blank thanks to sleep deprivation or just annoyance, I lean on the old faithfuls that got me through (and out of) a handful of sticky situations.
However, unlike the breakups I’ve been through before, I really can’t blame him at all. My toddler is, like most young kids, working with a limited vocabulary and feelings he’s only beginning to understand (and yes, I am withholding comment about people I’ve been through breakups with who might have this in common with him). Plus, his needs and interests are pretty simple: snacks, trucks, snuggles, and books. Anytime something else is asked of him when he’s got one of those in mind, things get a little, um, complicated. So, if more than two years of parenting has taught me anything, it’s that patience, reason, and logic can only get you so far. Sometimes, you just need to simplify:
"I Just Need Some Space"
It’s not that I don’t love my son’s aggressive snuggles, or how he likes to hang on my leg, or climb up my back when I’m sitting on the couch. I can even handle the fact that he simply seems to enjoy breathing on my face. I love all those things, but like most things I love (french fries, Canadian pop music, and scarves), they seem to work best in moderation.
"I Just Need Some Time To Be Me"
I almost considered using the tried and true “need to find myself” line, however I wouldn’t want to give my son the impression that I’d be lost or missing, since he tends to take things kinda literally. So, we’ll stick with this one and just hope he doesn’t ask too many questions.
"We Want Different Things"
I mean, there’s nothing inherently rong with singing Old MacDonald at the top of your lungs while everyone around us is trying to enjoy a drink and pastry at this coffee shop. I just, you know, would rather not.
"It’s Not You, It’s Me"
It’s technically true: it’s about my reaction to the paint smears on my white shirt, and the banana smushed on the couch, and the toy trucks rolled down the stairs (again).
"I Can’t Be Everything You Want Me To Be"
Especially a T-Rex. I’m sorry, I can’t be a T-Rex for you, son. I wish that I could.
"I’d Like To Just Be Friends"
At least, I’d like to be friends in this imaginary game we’re playing involving a blanket fort and bunch of spatulas and Tupperware I clearly never plan on ever using again. Then, shortly after, we’ll revisit the boundaries in our household and I’ll try to do that whole “showing parental authority” thing again.
"You’ve Changed So Much"
Please don’t get me started on how fast time flies and how you’re already more of a little boy than the baby you just were, like, yesterday. I really don’t want to cry right now.
It’s a fact: I have changed. I have changed hundreds, if not thousands of diapers. So, while my son doesn’t quite understand, this is an argument that means something (to me, at least.)
"Can We Take A Break?"
By “break,” I mean, "Can you please take a two, maybe three, hour nap while I eat lunch and put my feet up?” How does that sound? Everyone wins!