These Are The Times That Try Moms’ Souls…

07 Oct
Photo by Laurie Pink

Time for a confession.  (And maybe a rant)  I may be a bad mother.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that, this week, I am.  In my defense, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, sometime in the last two weeks, my adorable little two year old daughter was possessed by some sort of heretofore unknown evil demon troll.  I think “Fun Mommy” was necessarily replaced by “Smackdown Mommy,” simply because I’m doing my best to keep us both alive and sane.  And, by the way, you know all those cute little things that toddlers say and do?  Yeah, well – they tend to have less impact when you’re bracing yourself for the evil troll that you know is soon to follow.  Still cute, but in a fleeting sort of way.

I’ve tried multiple tactics.  Planned ignoring for outbursts and temper tantrums.  Zero tolerance (state the consequence and then swoop in to enforce).  Timeouts.  Distraction.  Getting on her level.  Patience, patience and more patience.  Speaking of which, do you have any extra, because I’m completely out.  Maybe in your pantry?  If so, please send some over, stat!

Sigh.  Yes, I’ve heard of the “terrible twos.”  Yes, Mom, I know that this is karma coming back to bite my butt for all the grief I ever gave you.  (I joke that my mom made me spend my childhood in the corner.)  And I know that this is part of her gaining independence and growing up.  But it is SO very tiring.  She argues with everything.  Give her two choices – she’ll pick a third.  Stick firmly to the two choices, she insists harder on the third.  She gets that little gleam in her eye and purposefully does something that she knows she’ll get in trouble for, just to test our alertness or maybe how tired we are.  I tell her not to climb on top of the bookshelf.  She asks why.  I tell her she’ll fall and break her head off.  She wails, “But I WANT to break my head off.”  Great.  Good times.

A big issue right now is napping.  Yes, I KNOW that many 2 year-olds often quit napping around this stage.  The thing is, all morning she says she’s tired and frequently lays her head down.  She ACTS tired and fussy.  She LOOKS tired.  Sometimes she even asks if it’s nap time and happily goes up to her room.  Then, she works her hardest to avoid sleep.  Kicking, shouting, singing, humming, thrashing, tossing and turning.  She has to be on her feeding pump during naptime, and she recently started unhooking her tube.  On purpose.  She readily confesses when I go up.  Can you say, “HUGE MESS”???  A disconnected tube means formula is pumped all over the bed, AND the contents of her stomach are allowed to come out.  Gross.  All over her, the bed, sometimes the floor.  This equals HUGE SLEEP STALL TACTIC for little miss.  It’s also a big problem, because she needs those calories and food.  She’s not getting any others.  We have to nip this behavior in the bud.

Commence Smackdown procedure.  For two days, I have told her that if she unhooked her tube, she would lose everything in the bed with her.  She sleeps with a small pillow, a blanket, a favorite animal, a pacifier and her pacifier “string” which is the ribbon for clipping her paci.  The last two things are MAJOR for her to lose.  For two days, she seemed terrified of this consequence.  Score 1 for Smackdown Mom.  Today, for whatever reason, the threat of the consequence didn’t outweigh her needs to: a.) avoid sleep b.) stall the sleep time and c.) get attention (even if it’s negative) from Mommy.  Ugh.

Smackdown rules?  Zero tolerance.  I marched upstairs, simply covered the wet spots in the bed with a blanket and sternly asked her what was going to happen next.  She solemnly said, “You will take everything away.” Right-o.  So I did.  AND I scooted her crib into the middle of the room because she was kicking the wall.  Here’s what was heard over the baby monitor for the next half hour:

I stubbed my toe.  Wahhhhh-wahh-wahhh-aaaaaah-AAAAAAAHHHH!!! I stubbed my TOE!!!

Settles into muffly sobbing, sniffling.  Loud thunk is heard.

I bumped my nose. I bumped my noise.  I bumped my nose. I bumped my nose. I bumped my nose AGAIN.  I bumped my nooooose Ahh-GIN!!!!  Waaaaahhhhh-aaaah-AAAAAAH!

Where is the wall?  Where is the waaaaallll??  Oh noooooo……Where is the waaaaaaallllll??

Quiet pause.  Some rustling.

I have a fwog in my thwoat.  I have a fwog in my thwoat.  I HAVE A FWOG IN MY THWOAT!!!!  Oh noooo……. I don’t know what to do.  WhatamIgonna doooooooooo……..  Waaaaahhhhh – wahhh – aaaaaaah

I want my paci back.  I want my paci back.  I WANT MY PACI BAAAAAACK!!  Waaaaaah-aaaah-AAAAAHHH

Oh no……. Oh noooo……..moaning and sniffling

Quiet……….(wimpy whimpering and snufling)

(Kicks and stomps.)  I want my paci!  Owwww!  I bumped my nose.  Ohhhhh noooooo………..Ohhhhhh NOOOOOOO! I bumped my nose again.  I bumped my nose AGAIN!!!!

Quiet……..still quiet…………………

(softly) I bumped my nose again.  I bumped my nose again. IbumpedmynoseagainIbumpedmynoseagainIbumpedmynoseagain.  Moooommy!  Moooooomy!!!  I want to go downstairs. I WANT TO GO DOWNSTAIRS!!!!!

Quiet….Changing tactics: a call for a sympathetic savior:

Is Daddy here?  Is Daddy here??  Is DADDY HERE????  Is Daddy here NOW???

Realization that no help is on the way sets in.

I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know what to DOOOO!  I don’t know what to doooo……Oh nooooo….

And the coupe de gras:

(Quietly mumbled) I can open my tube.  (Quiet.)  I’m tangled up in my tube.  I’m TANGLED UP!  I’m tangled up in my tube!!!!

I go up, don’t make eye contact or speak to her.  No attention reinforcement coming from Smackdown Mommy.  The tube is open.  The bed is a mess.  Again.  I cover the wet with a blanket, disconnect her tube, and leave.  The whole time I’m in the room, she insistently asks, “Is the sun up, Mommy? Is the sun up Mommy?  Is the SUN up Mommy??  IS THE SUN UP MOMMY????”  When I exit, she says,


She settles herself into snuffling again.

She quietly starts singing her own song: “Mommy loves me.  Daddy loves me.  Gwamma loves me.  Papa loves meeee……”

Smackdown Mommy’s heart breaks just a little.  But she’s still not going up there.  Almost one hour after the start of it all…….Blessed quietude.  I feel the tension in my shoulders relax just a little.  Only a little, because I know that when she wakes up, it will all start again.  Sigh.

I can’t help feeling like I’m doing something wrong.  That it shouldn’t be this hard.  I’m a rational adult!  I have a degree in Psychology!!  I am so tired.

Tomorrow will be better, right?


Posted by on October 7, 2008 in Jenna


10 responses to “These Are The Times That Try Moms’ Souls…

  1. allisonbarton

    October 7, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Ugh! You are not a bad mommy. You have a toddler. It breaks my heart when I hear Alex shouting from his crib “mama! Mama! MAMA!…MAMA!…baba? Baba! Baba!” Not only does he clearly NOT want to be sleeping, he is asking for me AND a bottle. (I’m very painfully and slowly taking his bottles away.)

    ::sigh:: We do what we have to. She obviously needs to nap, so you are doing what you can to make her nap. Unfortunately it’s very messy 😦

    Maybe she’ll miraculously decide naps are okay and make your life a little easier? We can always hope!

  2. Susie

    October 7, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    You are doing GREAT! Seriously. And what a riot she is with all the commentary! Your title says it all. Hang in there… EVENTUALLY.. it will get better… if not tomorrow then… eventually.

  3. Mama Ginger Tree

    October 7, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Naptime battles. So much fun. I don’t think it’s unusual at all to expect a 2 year old to nap. One of my daughters took a nap up until the day she started kindergarten. And she will still nap on the weekends… and she’s 6 now. My three year old is napping right now. He went through a phase of resisting, but I refused to give in and he went back to taking a nap and not fighting it.

    Hang in there! Pretty soon she will find something new to annoy you with. Bummer about the tube though. That just adds another level of stress for you. You’re not alone!!!

  4. Cutie Booty Cakes

    October 7, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    I believe tomorrow will be better. And for your most excellent behavior in this trying time I will give you a blessing. Bless psychmamma she needs all the help she can get!

  5. anymommy

    October 8, 2008 at 1:16 am

    Oh, it’s so funny and so not funny. We went through the no nap drama at about 2, but without the feeding tube issue. It’s hard, you’re doing great. I once spent two hours on our porch while my two year olds shrieked and played and threw their pillows at each other and did anything but nap because I just needed not to be able to hear it or I would kill them. These days, we’re out the other end, they have quiet time in their room and they really do play quietly. Mom cliche alert, but they do go through phases. Hang in there!

  6. Jenny

    October 8, 2008 at 3:18 am

    You don’t know me but my husband is a child psychologist and one of his favorite books to tell people about is “How to Raise and Emotionally Intelligent Child” . If you’ve heard of it, great. If not, get it. I had a child just like this -minus the feeding tube- (except she was like this pretty much from day one). After Kent went to grad school we discovered that she fit into the category of a difficult temperamant child. She could tantrum no problem for HOURS! Hopefully your daughter is just in a phase. We have 5 kids now so we’ve seen a lot since her toddler days(she was our first). And just to give you hope, she is absolutely AMAZING now. Couldn’t ask for a kinder, sweeter, more helpful daughter. Best of luck =)

  7. Kate

    October 8, 2008 at 11:00 am

    I think it sounds like you’re doing an amazing job with this. You know your daughter and you know what kind of discipline she needs. Don’t second guess yourself. All kids are different – so sure, this may not be the best system for some. But you are doing the right thing for your child. And the fact that it’s so hard is just proof of what a great mom you are.

  8. Heather of the EO

    October 8, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Feel free to rant more often. Makes me feel normal 🙂
    It is SO hard, isn’t it? I’m sure you’re still a good mother. Really. Of that I am sure. 🙂

  9. psychmamma

    October 8, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    You guys have no idea how great it is to hear other moms’ encouragement and tell me that I’m not a freak!! Ha!

    Jenny – I have read “How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent Child,” but thanks for the reminder. It’s worth a re-read. I also love “Positive Discipline.” Books are great, but they can only help so much. My experience says that very few kids neatly fit into the categories books create. Unfortunately. Sigh. I’m still lobbying the Universe for a personalized instruction book to pop out with the baby.

    Thanks again for all the awesome support, everybody. Love you all!

  10. Laurie Pink

    January 9, 2010 at 10:56 pm


    I’m not a Mum (well, I AM a mum, but to children that came with my partner. I entered past the tantrum phase, which I think is inadvertently marvelous timing on my part), but I reckon you’re doing grand.

    I think if you poll most mothers of toddlers on one of the many things that could make their toddlers tantrums a hundred times harder, having a feeding tube they could pull out of themselves would be up there really really high. Possibly just below the colostomy they could pull out themselves, which itself sits below the ‘having both’ option.

    This is a pretty old post, so I hope the troubles are also a distant memory 😉

    I just popped by because you used my picture – it’s a photo of one of my own bits of drawing/painting.


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