Monday, August 01, 2011

Patience & Persuasion: The Two P's to Parenting a Toddler

"Crystal blue persuasion, uh huh" ~ Tommy James and the Shondells

There are days when I feel like I will never develop the skills it takes to be a good parent. The days when I frustrate too easily, yell too quickly, and let myself become overwhelmed. Then there are days when I can see myself growing more successful. Blooming into a stronger mama, like the star jasmine we planted in our backyard that took so long to flower but now emits its sweet scent. These are the days when I feel confident in my abilities. When I know all that it takes is the right balance of patience and persuasion to maintain a happy household. You know that saying "happy wife, happy life?" It really should be "happy toddler, happy life." I realize that doesn't rhyme, but you get the gist.


Lately these balanced days are few. I am 8 months pregnant after all. Who can master the fine art of patience and persuasion on pregnancy brain?!? (Yeah, I pretty much cling to that excuse.) To truly be on your game with a tot you need your wits about you at all times. It's much too easy to rely on time outs and meaningless statements like "be a good boy." You have to come up with some sort of way to redirect them or to give them a choice between two things that you are okay with while avoiding bribery. Perhaps this doesn't sound that difficult. And some days it isn't.

But when your lower back is screaming at you to rest and your toddler is arching his back in protest while simultaneously biting you as you try to strap him into his carseat, patience and persuasion can be quite elusive. I catch myself promising Q a treat if he sits nicely in his seat. On really bad days, I use all of my strength in one arm to hold him down while the other arm works on manipulating the straps. Huffing and puffing and swearing under my breath. This is especially fun in public. I hate to admit that I go there. I hate when my first impulse is to push rather than gently persuade. But it's the truth. My patience is nowhere to be found. Mental acuity is as far out of reach as is anything below this ginormous belly.

I am able to see the light, though. I won't be pregnant much longer -- instead I'll just be delirious from lack of sleep. Something to look forward to! Still, somehow I'm learning. I'm realizing what works and what doesn't. What simply provides instant gratification with a sizable portion of guilt later. When baby girl arrives, hopefully I will be well-armed with the two P's. Q is sure to have a bit of an adjustment ahead of him and I want to be there at my best for him. And to be ready for whatever his sister brings to the battle when she enters those toddler years.

I want to earn another P in mama-hood -- to be proud of myself.


  1. So, true! I am working on mastering the two P's, and like you, while some days I feel like I'm doing great at this thing called parenting, other days, I feel like I'm just floundering. Recently, my mom has been helping a lot with Nya on weekends so that helps tremendously. Having some breaks gives me time to regroup and plan for being better.

  2. Jessica, yes, breaks are incredibly helpful for regrouping. I probably should be asking for a bit more help at this point so I can take those breaks.