Wait, what? Girl, “the struggle is real” is about us moms, not our toddlers. Well….I totally get that and I 100% agree and coffee is life. But…here’s what changed my mind.
My kids and I have been in the best music program in the country (universe? Too strong? Ok, North America) since Grace was 9 months old, she’s 4 years old now. My son has been in it since he was 6 weeks old and miss Sophia was tagging along at the ripe old age of 2 weeks old because ain’t no one got time to find a sitter for number 3.
This session Grace has a new favorite song, “Hiné Ma Tov.” A few nights ago Grace asked me to sing that song to her, and even though I’ve heard this song a million times, I could not produce it on my own. I couldn’t think of the tune and I certainly couldn’t think of the words. Grace told me that it was ok and she would teach me the words. She might not have had them perfectly, but definitely better than what I could do. And I still struggled to “repeat after her.” After about five minutes of this I was exhausted. My brain couldn’t take much more.
The next day we were in the car and the song came on again (because I don’t even know what popular music sounds like anymore) and I tried to listen super carefully to hear the words and the tune and the beat and I nearly had to pull over. It was taking almost all of my energy and focus. I do not know any Hebrew and I struggle with remembering tunes.
I stopped trying to learn the words to the song and I started thinking about my three kiddos, all at very “trying” ages. Even though I find their constant questions, messy exploring and meltdowns exhausting, I cannot even imagine all the energy it takes to master all they do every day. Every single thing is new or newish to them.
In music class, our instructor will occasionally tell us to use our less dominant hand for a hand movement in order to experience new movements and uncomfortable coordination in the same way our toddlers do everyday.
Good grief, of course my toddlers are having meltdowns. Henry is probably beside himself with all the processing. He’s a super sensitive kid, he hides behind the couch any time anything gets too emotional, happy or sad! So on top of learning all the typical daily tasks like language, manners, emotions, how to eat, how to regulate physical expression, he’s also picking up on EXTRA emotions, extra nuances in the mood and reacting to them, trying to control those reactions and process them and I need coffee.
Grace is sensitive in a different way, she’s like a silent sponge. Until she’s not silent, then she’s like a regurgitating memory robot explaining every single moment of her day and asking three to four hundred questions about each event. Like, how did she store that up all day? And why does she always wait until 7:58pm to tell me everything and try to process it all. I ask her about her day all the time, she has so many opportunities to share.
And then there’s crazy Sophia. She’s almost 20 months and the world is absolutely her oyster. She is soaking things up, trying things out, talking non-stop gibberish, trying to keep up with her siblings and has the most tantrums of all my kids. She has them about once an hour and they aren’t long lived, but they’re dramatic. My guess is that once she can talk these tantrums will decrease, or at least change in shape.
So, if I stop lamenting the challenges of motherhood for a moment and think about it from our children’s perspective it helps me deal with the exhaustion of mothering. How fitting that it took a Hebrew song about brothers and sisters sitting together in unity for me to realize that when our kids are being their most trying is when they need the most support and it is really freaking hard to be a toddler.