Dear Disequilibrium,
I trust you. Now go away.
Love, caro

Sleep is one thing. One very good thing. But then there is what happens when we are awake: There is whining and crying and screaming, or there is clinging and whimpering and cowering. Ingrid is a wreck so much of the time. It's hard to describe, hard to sort out what it all comes from. I feel like I used to get what was going on with her, even when she was being irrational and loud, and now I just don't. A lot of the time it makes no sense. This lack of resilience. This extreme shyness: grabbing my hand and pressing it against the side of her face as we walk together anywhere public. I don't want to say hi to anyone. These strange demands: Some different clothes. Another snack. And, for God's sake, even if it's cold out, No coat. No coat. NO COAT!

The early childhood class that we take has turned on a few lightbulbs. A list of behaviors common to two-year-olds: Have trouble choosing between two options. Are dictatorial and want to be in control. Live in the moment and have trouble imagining other times and places.

And, on a list of principles for parents to live by: Learn to trust struggle and disequilibrium.

I know a lot of problems come with this age, but some days it is really hard to believe I'm not causing this. Am I giving in to her tantrums? Am I making her insecure by not meeting some emotional need? Is it horrible that I'm not using time outs? There are certain things I expect of her, and consequences when they're not met, but often enough? Consistently enough? Or am I expecting too much? I don't know. I don't know. Some days things seem a little better: I feel more creative, better able to get through the thousand sticky wickets of each hour and really look her in the eye. Other days are like today.


  1. Huh. Well, I don't know. I am not an expert on two-year-olds. When I was a nanny one of the kids was two for a while, but I don't recall getting too much guff. But I wasn't the mommy, and there wasn't a new baby, and all kids are different. The only thing I can say is that, as with all things with children, it'll change and something else will be annoying, but perhaps less so. Not too optimistic, but it's what I've got.

  2. Oh Caro - I know.I struggle with much of the same (just our own mix - right now it's aggression rather than shyness, but all the rest sounds just like our house), and all the same motherly doubts. I really don't think you're doing anything wrong, including not using time-outs. I use them with N because they work well with him, kind of like "re-set button", but they're pretty ineffective with O - one of the many things that remind me to parent the kids I have. You're a thoughtful, patient (as in you come across as, not necessarily feel!) mom who's doing the best she can. 2.5 is supposed to be the worst of the 2's, and you just added a new baby to the mix. I'm really sorry you had such a crappy day. Isn't it interesting how it's not hard to reassure someone else of all that, but it's so much harder to be that kind to yourself? Oh - and about that "local culture" observation - I agree entirely. It's hard not to be around people who can be opinionated and frank - kind of makes you that way too eventually. My poor SIL gets an earful just about every evening.. So how bout that upcoming election?

  3. We are having similar issues here. Someone pointed out to me that it can be harder when you have a very verbal toddler, as it sounds like Ingrid is, because they can express such complicated concepts but emotionally they're still two. And the new baby throws such a wrench in the works.

    We don't do time-outs either. Sometimes our "discipline" is to ask if she needs a hug when she's freaking out. Honestly, I don't think their needs CAN be completely met, you know? It sounds like you're doing a great job.

  4. I wish I had some answers for you...you know we are struggling with the same thing here. Madam is JUST like that, and has been for some time, and yes, I don't know what to do differently. So a whole heap of sympathy and "yes, yes" here, but not much, you know, HELP.

    I don't do time outs yet, because I am unsure as to how much Madam actually understands of that process. So I hug a lot, and hope for better days.

    Hang in...I have seen your mothering in action, and you are a good one!

  5. My son is in the same place. It makes it hard to capitulate to his demands when they are constantly shifting....