Mommy Worries

How realistic is the expectation that an almost-2 child should self-amuse often and long? I know some mothers whose children of the same age will play for 30-60 minutes by themselves. I sometimes worry that I “play too much” with Claire. I do try to take little breaks to do chores, read, or blog, but often after 10-20 minutes she runs up saying, “Mommy come, Mommy come.” And she is in a repetitive stage, so she will utter that phrase until I relent; unfortunately this teaches and reinforces the behavior, and she learns that it takes “X repetitions” to get Mommy. Usually I try to stretch her a bit if I’m busy: “I’m cooking sweetie, I’ll be with you in a few minutes.” Sometimes I set a timer and tell her when it dings I’ll come play with her. When I do play, we’ll do it about 10-20 minutes at a time. Then I try to get up and do some more stuff. But here’s the point: I’m a stay-at-home mom for a reason, and that reason is to care for Claire. Part of caring is setting up different activities and participating in some of them. One of her biggest pleasures is reading books; lately it’s all the Richard Scarry books. Sometimes I feel like “disappearing” a few of them for a few days, because I am bored witless with them and almost at the end of my patience.

Another thing that I wonder about is her tantrums. Often when she is mad about not getting her way, she cries “I need a hug!” Or when she wants to be sure to get my attention she begs for a hug and cries. Or she announces, “I’m crying,” or “I’m sad (or mad),” or “I’m so sorry, Mommy!” The questions are: should I withhold a hug until she is calm and done having the tantrum? Or should I hold her if that helps to calm her down? Should I give her a hug when she is using it as a means to get my attention and pull me away from my own task?

Well, I’ve had my ten minutes, and now I’m being tugged and whined at for another thing. For now I’ll comfort myself with this excerpt from a blog and favorite book:

Lila has been driving me to the brink lately with the Being Two: the whining, the screaming, the abandoning of the diapers in random sodden heaps around the house, the eating nothing-but-blueberries-and-mini-marsmallows, the “Meeee dooooo!” the “No Mama sing!”

But last night I read this, on page 83 of Karen Maezen Miller’s excellent book, Momma Zen:

“Yes, it’s said that “two” is terrible, but can you consider the course load for a minute? Self-feeding and table skills, language, emotional management, toilet training, and social etiquitte for starters.

And all occuring amid the frightening undertow towards separation and independence. Throw in weaning, the big bed, and assorted other traumatic transitions such as a new sibling, babysitter or preschool, whenever they enter the picture. These kids are working in a coal mine!

Consider all of this as a way to conjure up more empathy on an ordinary day.”

Ahhh. Suddenly I feel better. Thanks Karen.

This book is an old Moms Are Talking About favorite, categorized under the intriguing label Parenting/Buddhism.

If you ask me, that’s a literary subgenre that really ought to have its own bookstore. Or planet. With free green tea and massages.

Explore posts in the same categories: Buddhism, Domestic Arts, Journal, Meditation, Motherhood

4 Comments on “Mommy Worries”

  1. Karen Maezen Miller Says:

    I do believe, Kathryn, that this is what drives some to initiate nursery school at 2. Certainly not something that any child needs, not out of parental anxiety or competitiveness, but because it simply takes the pressure off all sides.

  2. Kathryn Says:

    Did you do this? We’re on a waiting list for a parent-participation preschool which will require my attendance the 1 day a week we go, but eventually she’d go several times a week and I’d work just one day. It may be quite awhile before we’re contacted anyway, and until then I’ll have to persevere. 🙂

  3. donna Says:

    Heh, I ended up taping “Cars and Trucks and Things that Go” because I was sick of reading it. I would play the tape for my son, and he still seemed to be ok with it that way…

  4. Barbara Says:

    What a great exerpt to think about!

    It has been 6 years since I left the two year old stage but I remember it like yesterday. Mothering 2 and 3 year olds is such important work! Looking back at my experience with my daughter I wish that I had waited to send her to preschool. I enrolled her in a 2day program and she was just 3. I felt like I ‘had’ to have her in school, external pressures… The school was great, the teachers were outstanding and she had an ok year but I look back and truly wish I just spent that year with her rather than having her go to school.