Dear Parent of a Toddler,
Let me start by acknowledging that at this point you are actually an inhabitant of an alternative universe. This Universe is a special place of its own, with different timings and routines as well as a whole lot of expectations and demands, and may I add, not enough rest!
I see you are exhausted. It is probably the nth day in a row when you have not had a full night’s sleep. When they were even younger, everyone around you said, that soon enough they would sleep through the night soon and it would get easier. That feels like a myth, doesn’t it?! It’s something new every week- they are getting their final few teeth and teething is never pleasant. They are dropping their nap so days and nights are unpredictable. Are you shaking your head as you read this? You are experiencing it now- aren't you? The good news is you aren’t alone in this club and even better news is that it is a phase and it shall pass. It feels never ending right now and you will soldier on, just as you have these past months through the fevers, colds, coughs, teething and sudden change in sleep patterns and a variety of experiences parenthood brought with it. You may have felt you couldn’t do this another day, but you did- day after day, week after week! You are strong and you will find strength and determination and wells of patience that you didn’t know existed within you. And, you may be juggling all this with an older child, a younger child, you may be pregnant, you may be working outside the home, from home, you have the household to run – with or without help and support and then deal with the myriad of experiences daily life brings with it. Parent of a young one- I see your strength.
I also see that sometimes it is hard and overwhelming and utterly exhausting. I remember being there not so long ago and completely shocking my brother who was visiting by bursting into tears when he asked me ‘How are you?’ I cried for 10 minutes straight, talking about all the exhaustion, the strain, the pressure of managing 2 kids under the age of 4 with a spouse who had to travel extensively for work. I was grateful as he sat there with his arm around me quietly, as I blubbered. He had no idea how loaded his well-intentioned, innocent question was! Nothing was wrong, so as to speak (I had him worried!) but it all got just too much that morning. Parent of a young one- I see your vulnerability amidst that strength.
Before you had kids, you may have decided that you were never going to let your identity as a parent eat up your other identities or overtake your other interests. And now, when you get the chance to pause, you wonder when you last read poetry, painted something, baked something experimental or took off on your bike. And you may feel like you have given up so many things. An avid reader may choose to forgo reading to go for a facial, unimaginable a few years ago! A hardcore biker may choose to head out for an evening out with friends over a bike ride, surprising themselves. It’s just that you are craving a quiet pampering or adult interactions and you are meeting that need. Things are different than how you imagined, and that’s ok. You want different things than before, probably and that may surprise you, even throw you a bit. Parent of a young one, give in to what your soul needs and don’t judge yourself harshly.
You feel like your little one is going to playschool for 3 hours and that means you have time and you want to get back into work, you may want to work out, or do the million other things you have put off, but it’s probably the only time during the day you have some respite and you just don’t want to do anything! Also, children can be unpredictable. A sudden ear ache, a nasty cough which didn’t allow sleep can throw your plans completely off track and that can leave you feeling so frustrated and sometimes inadequate. Life throws you curve balls when you least expect it. Parent of a young one- I see you handling the curve balls with utmost grace and as much gumption as you can muster. It is enough.
Parent of a young one; please do not forget that these are years in which it seems that you have a semblance of control. These years can leave you more frustrated than the infant years because you may have started feeling like you were a little bit back in control and then suddenly you realise, it is as fast a roller coaster as before! I see that there are days when things are easy and life feels a breeze and there are also days when it is anything but. Parent of a young one- I see that you are good enough for both.
Author: Seemanthini Iyer is a certified Parent Educator with Parenting Matters, an organisation that promotes parents to build deeper connections within families.