Saturday, August 13, 2005

Misery Loves Company

Commiserating with my friends this week has been really theraputic for me. We are all pretty much at the end of our ropes with our toddler girls, all of whom, with one exception, are the same age. I'd been feeling really down on my parenting skills since I last posted, because I thought, really, musn't I be doing something wrong, if Hazel is so grouchy, grumpy and on edge all the time? But, in talking to my friends, all of whom I know to be excellent, patient, caring, attentive moms, I have found some much needed solace in the fact it's not just Hazel being a little monster; all of these girls are reaching the age and stage of testing boundries, pushing limits, and growing up.

I've been trying to put myself in Hazel's shoes this week. Imagine being old enough to know that you're not a baby anymore, but small enough to feel vulnerable in a world of grown ups and big kids. Imagine becoming conscience of the fact that you have free will, but unable to understand why you can't exercise it whenever you want to. Imagine being smart enough to know the rules, but not yet able to grasp why you have to follow them. It must be really hard, living in the grey area. No patience (or very little), no concept of time, no impluse control. I think Hazel's existential dilemma is compounded by the fact that there is a new baby in the house - a little interloper, in her eyes, here to impose herself on her parents limited supply on generosity and good humor. I am trying to be sympathetic to her plight, even when I think she's being unreasonable. It helps when I think about the fact that sometimes, especially when I'm frustrated, hungry, or tired, I can be unreasonable, too.

The other day at the toddler pool, my friend Sarah said that she'd read that the Terrible Twos actually start at 2 1/2 and last until 3 1/2. That sounds right on target to me. Countdown to 3 1/2: Nine months, and counting.