Why is your toddler good with everyone else but you?
Updated: Dec 29, 2019
Have you ever been picking your toddler up from the in-laws and they just go on about how sweet he or she was?
Then you ask “This toddler? My baby, that I birthed and dropped off with you 4 hours ago, this one right here?” as you point.
They confirm that they are referring to your actual kid, not the imaginary one you envisioned sitting at the table, eating the food that was placed in front of them, drinking from a crystal chalice… with their pinky up.
This can’t be right though, your kid is in their terrible two’s, an actual raging twister of a human, leaving nothing but destruction and cheerios in its path. Your toddler is the one who draws murals on the wall, flushes car keys down the toilet, wakes 68 times throughout the night, and despite your frivolous efforts to get them in their own bed, you wake up next to them each morning. You are with them day in and day out, catering to their needs, and never being alone.
But today things are different, you had a meeting, or a wedding, or an appointment where your precious demon couldn't tag along, and you had to drop them off with grandma. You felt guilty, you questioned if you really needed to go on this outing and expose your innocent family to your child’s erratic behavior. What would they think of him, or your parenting skills, or you as a person? Surely they would rescind your thanksgiving invitation and suddenly become “unavailable” for future get-togethers after they witness this catastrophe waiting to happen. But alas, you do have to go, and you do have to drop your toddler off, and you do have to put your big girl panties on and walk in their door with your tiny tornado in hand.
They greet you with open arms, (nervous laughing… they don’t know what they’re in for) they are so excited to see you and their down line and keep her for the first time unsupervised. They have big plans, making cookies, painting, going to the park, crafts… You silently acknowledge that none of this is going to work out, their perfectly put together home will resemble a crime scene by the time you get back, and you feel another pang of guilt.
Why can’t you be the mom who never has to leave her kids with anyone? Will you be judged for going out in public without your tiny offspring in tow, will someone assume you are one of “those” moms, who never has her kids, always pawning them off on someone?
Surely other moms have to go out alone sometimes… right?
You start unloading the baby bag and explaining how to use everything, telling them in detail what he will and won’t do, what he’ll eat and drink, how to turn the tablet to their favorite show, and how to get them down for their nap. They quickly tell you “I have it under control, just go!” and they begin the process of shuffling you out the door, saying “don’t worry, it’s fine, this isn’t my first rodeo!”
But it is their first rodeo with your kid. Certainly, you and your siblings didn't behave this way, what could they have possibly done differently than what you do?
Fast forward, your outing is over and you arrive back at Grandma’s to pick up your Destruct-o-5000. You’re so nervous about what happened while you were gone, you are expecting pure chaos as you crack the door open.
It’s silent inside, surely they must be gone, dropping your kid off at the zoo where she belongs, in with the monkeys.
You creep into the kitchen, there are fresh cookies on a plate, covered in globs of rainbow icing, and doused in sprinkles. You look on the dining room table and there are several pieces of paper with wet paint laying there to dry, adorned with tiny fingerprints, and scribbled colors. You see tiny shoes by the door, playground sand fills the crevices, they really did go to the park after all. As you walk into the living room you see your sweet, precious baby sleeping on Grandma’s lap, rocking in her chair, a little icing on her nose.
“She was an angel.” She says, smiling. “Are you back already?”
You breathe a sigh of relief, but wonder, how this could have happened... when you’re around there's nothing but meltdowns and tears? There is this thing you have to know about toddlers. They are tiny humans, pre-adults if you will. They have emotions, and desires, and bad days just like we do. Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you are mad about something, you take it out on the nearest person, even though they had nothing to do with it? Toddlers do that too. They have to find a soft place to land when things aren’t going their way. They let you see all of their frustrations, anger, and confusion. They are comfortable enough around you to let their feelings show. You are their safe space, you are the one that gets to take the crap… literal and figurative. So yes sometimes it may seem insane when another caretaker brags about how good your toddler is with them, and you might wonder why you can’t see their good side all the time, and it’s simple, no one has a good side all the time.
We have to be able to release our emotions, and as a mother, it helps to just try and feel gratitude that you are their “person”. They feel safe with you, they crave your attention and comfort, and they will show out to get it sometimes. That is what toddlers do. You have done things right so far, by providing the love and space toddlers require to thrive, and learn boundaries. This is just a season, and it won’t last forever
If you ever feel overwhelmed with your kids, seek help. Take breaks to recharge and rejuvenate. Time away from responsibilities and wiping butts and noses can really do a gal some good. Take it from me!
Time away doesn't have to be expensive or extravagant, it could be anything from a girls weekend away with friends, to having time alone to clean your house without distractions. Dropping your kids off with a safe family member or friend, even a daycare can give you the break you deserve and NEED. No one can be expected to carry the role of motherhood on their own with zero help.
If you are local to Greenville, SC and you need ideas, resources, or hell just a listening ear, please get in touch. I know all the best spots in the Upstate to get your “Me-Time” on! (A blog on that to come soon!)