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I’ve been having one of those days today. Well, I’ve been having it most days lately. You know the ones. Where you won’t do anything I ask. Where you run in the opposite direction and climb on the table at every given opportunity. And I just want to scream because it’s so bloody infuriating!
But in the quiet moments after the storm. I remember. It’s not you, it’s me.
You’re being a toddler. You’re working out how the world works. You aren’t too sure yet what tables are for, you know people eat their food off them, but you can’t see any reason why you can’t sit on them too. Sitting around them, under them, on them… What’s the difference really?
I know that on the days I have the energy for you. On the days I give you lots of love and attention you’re generally pretty well behaved (well, as much as any toddler is). And on the days I lose it, you generally aren’t.
But really are you very different on those days? Maybe a little, once I’ve lost my rag. But I know the truth: It’s not you, it’s me. On the ‘bad days’ when I think you’re being a nightmare and you’re driving me nuts, really you’re not all that different. You are your usual energetic, independent, inquisitive self. But me, I’m different.
I’m different, because I’m exhausted.
I’m different, because I’ve had enough of doing it all alone, day after day.
I’m different, because I’m angry with your father for not helping and leaving it all to me so I lack the patience you deserve.
I’m different, because I’m annoyed when all the online ‘advice’ gives me tips that require a two parenting team to work.
I’m different, because I just want to stop being a parent for a minute. Just one.fucking.minute. But I can’t.
I lose my temper because I’m expecting you to be someone you aren’t (yet), someone you can’t be if I want you to learn for yourself and explore the world around you. I know that’s what I want for you, but on the days I’ve had enough it’s hard to remember in the heat of the moment. It’s not you, it’s me.
When my friend shares another ‘toddler parenting top tips’ I go searching through, looking for the Holy Grail advice that tells me how to ‘make you behave’. Of course I never find it. All these tips are just the same three points placed inside out and upside down. Trying to make it look like something new. There’s nothing new. Just the standard love, listen and laugh. That’s it. Oh, and a shed load of patience too. Nothing more, nothing less. But just that that can be bloody hard on days like this.
So I just wanted you to know: I’m sorry…. I don’t always get it right but it’s not you, it’s me.
Your loving mum.
If you too are a single parenting and you’re struggling, or you want to meet other single parents, then www.gingerbread.org.uk is a great resource. They have advice and information as well as local groups around the UK.