A and I went on vacation this week with my family. We went to Cape Ann in Massachusetts (a place I have been going my whole life and my mother before me). Unfortunately, my husband had to work, but A had aunts, grandparents, and extended family to keep him occupied. He got to ride on a boat. He got to swim in the sea. But his most favoritest-favorite thing to do was throw rocks into the water. He could sit there for hours and throw rocks, just to watch them splash and hear them go ‘plop.’ So, amidst all the horror of the world, this week, I present to you: A on his first boat ride.
Terrible twos. TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE twos. There aren’t any words. Except, hot damn, the terrible twos. A isn’t even two yet either! He’s just 20 months old, but the terrible twos seem to have hit our house early. This week has been the hardest of our parenting lives (even harder than 4 to 6 months old, when A woke 8-10 times a night). A started a new daycare last week, and since the second day of his new school, A has been INSANE. I don’t want to sound overly dramatic, but there are no words to adequately describe how insane A has been. 95% of the time he is at home (and awake), he is throwing a temper tantrum. I am not exaggerating when I say 95% of the time. This weekend, my husband and I looked at each other and just said ‘this is insane.’
Luckily, at school, this doesn’t seem to be his pattern at his new daycare. They say he is a pleasure when he’s there, and they love having him (hopefully this will continue!).
I do try to stick by my original post on temper tantrums: I name his emotion and validate it. But there are times when that won’t do anything to calm him down. This week is a perfect example. In those moments, we’ve taken to ignoring him. Disciplining through the terrible twos is an emotionally trying time—I have lost my temper a few times over the last week, I will admit. But I am so thankful I have a partner. When I just could NOT deal anymore, he would step in and I would go hide upstairs. When he couldn’t deal anymore, I would step in and he would hide. Self-care as parents is so important, particularly during weeks like this.
So, a note to myself: Take care of myself. Make a self-care plan. Rely on family and friends. Remember, everything passes. GOOD LUCK.
And solidarity to any other parents who are in the middle of the terrible twos.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” –Audre Lorde
I’m not feeling inspired this week to write about social justice and parenting. Not sure if my mental energy is being sucked away by work or by the INSANE temper tantrums A has been throwing recently. Dammnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, he has been feeling cranky the last few days. Or he’s just testing his limits. Or he’s going through a developmental spurt. I don’t know, but it is a test of my patience. And a test of my whole ‘are temper tantrums social justice opportunities?’ strategy I put forth a few weeks ago. I want to seriously laugh-out-loud at myself that I called what A was doing then ‘temper tantrums’—they were more like a 30 second whine. Now he screams immediately if I don’t give him what he wants all the time (which I don’t, don’t worry!).
This is actually a perfect segue into what I wanted to talk about this week: how self-care can be an act of radicalism. The image of the ultimate selfless mom who has no time to think about herself is not a healthy one (though I’m sure it feels true sometimes). A few weeks ago, my friend invited me to a self-care workshop for moms. It was a nice 2-and-a-half-hour session, mostly because it was a non-judgmental space of moms recognizing the need for time for themselves. During the workshop, I made a few resolutions to myself about self-care: (1) that I would turn off my screens at 9:30pm every day (not going so hot with that one—it’s currently 9:51 as I’m writing these words), (2) I would hug my husband once a day (seems so obvious that I’m embarrassed to say it) and (3) that I would try floating. One of the other moms in the self-care workshop highly recommended floating (also called sensory deprivation). Essentially, you float in a salt water tub that’s heated to the perfect temperature so that you lose track of your body. The room is pitch dark and completely silent. I did end up trying it recently: one Sunday night right before A’s bedtime, I left him with his dad and went to float in a dark, soundless room (lol). I’m not sure if I’ll do it again, but I’m proud that I made time to try something new, just for myself.
Lorde’s quote is a powerful one. She obviously speaks from an intersectional perspective—her Blackness and her womanhood are wound up together. I’m not sure her quote exactly speaks to me as a White woman (nor should it), but I do believe that any one’s self-care is an important act of social justice. Particularly for parents. Particularly for moms. Not just because it helps us be better moms, but because we deserve that care simply because we are human.