A few weeks ago I shared this photo on Instagram with the following caption and it resonated with a lot of you…like hundreds of you…
This age, you guys, it’s hard. It’s tantrums and yelling. It’s hitting and kicking. It’s no, no, no and then no some more. More days than one, it will push you past the limits of your patience and leave you questioning where you went wrong as a parent. But when you find yourself having one of those days, remember this: It’s ok to take a mom timeout, hide in your room and just breathe. And it’s ok to cry right along with them. (I’ve done both today) It’s ok to question yourself, but never ever doubt these two things 1) Your little ones love you unconditionally and 2) You’re doing a great job. I promise ❤️
I snapped this picture about halfway through a particularly rough day and I was just about at my wit’s end. I was mostly just writing out the reminder that I really needed to hear…but your responses reminded me of something so important:
I am not alone. There are so many of you out there who have either been here yourselves or are currently in the thick of it with me.
Last weekend Squish officially turned 3. I can’t believe it’s been a year since I last wrote a post just about him. To document this birthday, I decided to try to capture a completely honest look at what life with a three-year-old is really like.
So….This is 3.
Three is emotional. It’s mood swings. It’s tears. So many tears. When he hears the word no? Tears. When I have to change his diaper? Tears. When I won’t give him a snack 10 minutes after he finishes lunch? Tears. When we have to leave the playground? Tears. Every day when he comes in to wake me up, I hold my breath and wait to see what kind of morning it’s going to be. And even when it starts out well, things can change in an instant. Happy. Screaming. Pouting. Happy again….all in a small five-minute window. And repeat. All day. Every day.
Three is frustrating. It’s a constant exercise in patience and trying not to lose it. I consider myself a fairly patient person…but it seems like there is at least one point in every single day lately where I raise my voice, lose my temper or become completely exasperated, no matter how hard I try not it. I do my best to put myself in his shoes and be sympathetic and understanding and calm but sometimes it’s just not possible.
Three is defiance. It’s pushing boundaries, often with a smirk or a smile because they clearly know it’s wrong and they’re just testing your limits. It’s hearing the word NO at least 100 times a day, to pretty much every question, often before you’ve even gotten the full question out of your mouth. It’s being forced to pick your battles and learning when to stand firm and when to give in.
Three is repetitive. Don’t hit. Don’t kick. Indoor voice please. Get in your carseat. Leave your sister alone. Calm down. Put your shoes on….All things I say a million times a day.
Three is loud. And fast. It often seems that Squish only has one speed and one volume. Fast and loud. From literally the second he wakes up until the minute he goes to bed.
Three is independent. “My doin’ it” is his number one phrase. Everything from putting the ice cubes in his water bottle to climbing in and out of his car seat. It’s messy and painstakingly slow at times, but his confidence and skills are developing, which is so important.
Three is low expectations. It’s making grand plans, only to have them constantly derailed by a toddler who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. It’s disappointment, rejection and canceled plans.
Three is hard. And exhausting. At the end of every day, I literally collapse into bed. It’s by far the hardest year so far. Never have I doubted my ability to be a parent more than I have the last few months. I’ve felt unqualified, embarrassed, scared and defeated. Usually at least one of those emotions every single day. So many times each week I find myself thinking “ok, well how the F am I supposed to handle this?”
But three is also amazing.
Three is new. It’s new activities, new words, new interests. Since he started talking fairly late, it’s been so fun to watch him learn new words, start communicating more clearly. He also started regularly going to preschool and playgroup so he is interacting with kids his own almost daily.
Three is impressive. The things he remembers and the things he can figure out continue to astound me. He has an amazing memory and sense of direction (def got both of those from daddy) and every day I’m impressed by how smart he is.
Three is hilarious. The things that come out of his mouth make me laugh SO HARD.
Three is pure. There’s nothing better than seeing the world through the eyes of a child. He’s discovering new things, having fun and loving life without yet being corrupted by the current state of the world. Seeing the pure joy on his face when he does something fun is so amazing.
Three is unconditional. Squish has always been a mama’s boy and it continues to be oh so humbling to have someone love me so fiercely. No matter how frustrated I get with him, at the end of every day he gives me a hug and says “wuv you mommy” and I know he means it 100%. We are his whole world and I never take that for granted.
Nothing makes me happier than being his mama. Even if it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
So to all my fellow parents out there, if you’re currently in the “this is three” stage as well, hang in there. Remember that this too is just a stage. They’re learning and growing, just like we are as parents, and we’ll all make it out the other side.
Remember that it’s ok to get frustrated and cry right along with them. No matter how it may seem at the end of every day, you’re doing a great job.
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I have two girls born within two weeks of each of your kids. My oldest is so loyal, smart and loving, but also clingy, shy and stubborn. Solidarity, sister Thanks for keeping it real. During the rough moments (days? Weeks?) I remind myself that EVERYTHING is a season!
yes! we’ll all get through it together!
Thank you. *I’m not crying*
This is also 2 1/2. I’m petrified of three!! I’m printing this out and hanging it on my bathroom wall. That’s where I go to hide from my kids when they are being little monsters. Patience is a huge shortfall for me and I’m learning from my littles as much as they’re learning from me. Man, it’s nice to know I’m not alone. Thank you for a fabulous reminder.
I don’t have a 3 year old yet. But I taught them for two years. I would always tell my mom friends that 3 is so much harder then 2. When they are 2 they really don’t know better. But 3! At 3 they know and still do it. But as hard as it is you are right; the joys, love, funny comments are oh so worth all the battles! Love your blog and Instagram. You inspire me everyday to get my 2 year old in the kitchen “helping” me! Thank you! You are doing a great job!
yep! once they know better it’s so much harder! thanks so much for following along!
Not quite at 3 yet, but I think this post also pretty much applies to 2, or at least my 2 year old right now. Equal parts frustrating and hilarious. I too have cried along with my son when we are just so frustrated by each other that words don’t really do anything. Thanks for sharing all of this with us…it helps more than you know!
yep! ours started in the 2’s as well! hang in there!
Fiona MacDonald says
Love this so much! we are in the terrible Two’s and I Know it’s only going to get worse. I love hearing that other mom’s struggle with finding peace and acceptance in the imperfect because man every day is SO hard . I’ve been finding my patience running thin the last few weeks as we push our boundaries and become more defiant and I’m so glad I’m not alone!!! Thank you for this!
definitely not alone. My patience wears thin every day lol!
***not crying*** This IS three!!!! And it’s nuts! Crazy-beautiful season of life. Thank you for sharing, love following all that you do, it’s always real and inspiring.
thanks for reading!
This is so true with my second child. My first daughter is about 8 years older and was a much different 3 year old, although that year was “trying” as I called it. However, my second daughter epitomizes all the traits that you listed. As I am much older now and had gotten used to having just one child with a completely different personality, I’m finding that it takes a lot to be patient particularly when she gets that smirk on her face or starts running around the house with something that she knows she shouldn’t have. Thanks for writing about it. It’s a good reminder that lots of 3 year olds act this way.
she’s definitely not the only one! that smirk is so tough!
Nicole @ Laughing My Abs Off says
Aww Lindsay I love this post, and I love how candid you are about parenthood! I think you are an amazing mother <3
Great post! Also, thanks so much for not ending this with “and I wouldn’t change a thing” like so many others do. What a crock lol.
haha you’re welcome 🙂
Katie @ Live Half Full says
Thanks for sharing! My son just turned two, and I can already relate to most of this. I’m so glad you’re ahead of me so that I can learn from you.
yeah ours definitely started in the twos as well!
This captures all the frustration, repetitive commands/talking and complete and utter exhaustion of having twin 2.5 year olds… but also the cool things they can do at this age! And oh the funny things they say and imagine!
i can’t even imagine twins! you’re amazing.
Um, you have me sobbing over here. Three is ALL THE FEELS and ALL THE TIME. You’re such a good mom Lindsay – hang in there! The seeds we’re sowing today will give a harvest of such sweetness so soon!
And trust me, you’re SO not alone 😉
We had all these at two and then three was a great age and now we’re right back in the same spot at four. So I know exactly what you mean. Thank god they’re so wonderful they can make you completely forget how hard it was just 10 minutes ago, right?
oh my gosh, you describe my 3 year old almost 4 year old to a tea!! true words, 3 is hard, not any easier then 2, I’m waiting for what being 4 brings!