battles and wars

Oh, life as a mom of a two-year-old. Is there anything more humbling? This post is not going to be pretty.

Lately, I’ve just been feeling like I’m failing. I know that a lot of moms feel this way. Or, gosh, I just hope a lot of moms feel this way. Not because I want every mom to struggle, but because I want to know that I’m not alone.

We have a very defiant, spirited, loving, intelligent, curious and strong-willed toddler on our hands. He is almost 28 months (not quite 2 1/2) and he knows a lot and asserts himself. He loves his mommy, I know that. And boy! Do I ever love him? But he also frustrates the fire out of me.

I feel like I am  constantly walking this fine line between “together mommy” and “scary mommy.” He is constantly being corrected, redirected and disciplined. I don’t like popping him on the hand and I don’t like having to speak sternly to him. But both have to be done. Time-outs have to be used. But it’s when I reach that point of “scary mommy” and my voice escalates and I’m angry.

I thought to myself this morning, “Poor guy! He isn’t doing the “right” thing, but I can’t imagine being corrected–constantly, all day every day.”

The hard part is that I know that he knows what he’s doing. I know that he’s doing things just because I said not to do them. I know that he’s testing me. He’s smart.

Our daily battles are over silly things like when he climbs on, and breaks, the exersaucer. Or when he snatches a toy from his baby brother. Or when he throws his food from the high chair. Small things.

But my biggest fear is that one of two things will happen. He will either (a) remember me as the mom who constantly scolded him and turned into “scary mommy” or (b) win. I don’t want either of those things. I don’t want him to be in charge and I don’t want to lose myself to my impatience and anger.

My love for both of my children is overwhelming. It’s true that we correct them because we love them and want to protect them from hurting themselves, hurting others or getting into a habit of behaving badly.

This road between 2 and 3 years old is an exhausting road. I am flat out tired. I have two kids who sleep great and I actually sleep great. But I am so tired at the end of every day and I’m still tired when I wake up in the mornings.

I know that no one expects me to be a perfect mommy. I attended the first session of our church’s Mom’s Bible Study this morning and heard a very great point that my husband, my children nor God  expect me to be perfect. And that also means that my children will not be perfect.

I know that just like everything with parenting, this is a season. But it’s a long season. It feels especially long when you are constantly questioning everything you’re doing. I do trust my instincts, but I also know that I get one chance. I know that turning to God in prayer is my biggest hope. And I’m also turning to Dr. Dobson. But I know that I know this precious boy better than anyone and that prayer can help me know how to parent him and know how to be a calm, loving and patient mommy.

I need to appreciate the teaching moments where I can teach him and where I can learn.

I’ve never been more humbled than I am during this time in my life. I love this precious boy for all that he is and all that he dreams of being. I want to protect him and create a safe home for him.

This struggle with obedience is tough. I want to embrace his strengths and work with him where he is challenged. He may win lots of little battles, but I am determined to win this war.

2 Peter 1:3

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him

who called us by his own glory and goodness.


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  1. Oh I feel like that all the time! My daughter is 16 months, and she is all about testing the limits. Some days are good, and other days are a challenge from the minute she wakes up until the minute she goes to bed. I definitely can turn on my “scary mommy.” You are not alone! I just try to remember that this is all temporary. I wish I could stamp that to my toddler’s head when she challenges me so I remember!

  2. girl, i am right there with you! we have war at our house just about every day. the way i see it though, is a beautiful reminder of grace. so often, i am just like libbi and i do things that i know i shouldn’t or don’t do things that i know i should. (let’s just say she gets her stubborn streak honestly….) but thank God that HE is not in my face constantly telling me “don’t do this,” or “don’t do that.” He does give gentle reminders and discipline at times, but overall, He is not a scary God. He is full of grace and second chances. Amen to that! I pray every day to follow the example that He has set, because after all HE is the only perfect parent. prayers for you during this season in life and if nothing else, know that you are not alone!

  3. As a mother of 3, I have been down this road already once, am currently going through it, and will again. I’m sure I will realize mistakes made each go around and also, I’m praying, that I’ll learn from them and be a better mother. This is a hard stage. I stand firm in my belief that 3 is a much harder age than 2… someone recently said to me it isn’t called the “terrible two’s” because of the age, it’s because the years between ages 2-3 are rough, a total of 2 years. My biggest struggle is remembering that they are still babies. They are learning right from wrong, but it’s absolutely our responsibility to guide them toward being respectful, independent, well-mannered children. You’re doing a great job, Erin! God will give you grace, and so will those precious boys.

  4. Oh gosh! I totally could’ve written this post! :)

    I feel the same way you do – like I’m constantly walking that line between “together” and “scary”. What’s more embarrassing is that now that Bubba is in pre-school, I only have a few (sacred!) hours with him each day, so I hate it when he’s acting up because I feel like our time together is so precious. To make matters even worse, I only have a few hours with his father each day as well, so I am always hoping that my husband doesn’t think I’m constantly correcting or fussing at our kid all the time!

    I don’t care for spanking (but I’ll do it if I have to in the future!) and since our kid is only 18 m/o, it’s really a non-issue. Since he is so young, we often use re-direction or time-out (if he’s really getting out of hand). Lately, he’s beginning to throw the typical two year old temper tantrums – especially when he wants his milk! We want him to know and learn that screaming or crying does not get him/us what we want, so he needs to be calm. We’ll redirect, but if he continues, we’ll put him in his playpen/Joovy for a few minutes with some books and Pooh bear.

    I know that our guidance as parents is essential and I know that one day he’ll thank me because he’ll be able to make good decisions (on his own!) and be a strong man. I love my little guy so much and I have to also remind myself that this is a season. I just cherish our time together so much and luckily, he still wants to cuddle with his mama pretty often! :)

  5. You just wrote the words that are my exact thought. I have wrote numerous posts on my blog about those terrible two’s and I am sure I will write several more, because I don’t see things getting any easier with my 2 1/2 year old right now. I love him more than anything in this world, but I get so tired of constantly getting on to him. I guess this to shall pass, and I will go through the exact same thing with our next one.

  6. I have alot of these days especially lately. Motherhood is the most rewarding thing ever but it’s also the hardest thing I have ever done. I battle myself in that I wonder if I am even doing the right thing or saying the right thing. it’s hard work! I think it’s admirable that you even are concerned about this as some people could care less. You do the best you can.

  7. It will pass. My nerves were shot when my son was between 2-3.5 years old. Then all of a sudden, he stopped acting out and started obeying. And now (at almost 4) he is lovely to parent. Hang in there. Pray daily. When you get angry, walk away and calm down before you correct him. And know that you are not alone.

  8. Parenting is exhausting. I think I tend to underestimate just how much MENTAL energy I spend worrying/feeling guilty/researching/etc. And that is darn tiring!
    I try to keep in mind that children are very perceptive and are contstantly taking in the world around them. By thinking this way, it lets me off the hook as far as being constantly on top of my daughter, correcting, redirecting, etc. I’m just not willing to make myself (and her!) miserable by always correcting her behaviour. Someone much wiser than me, suggested that I think of a scene in a restaurant. Kids will bug their parents and make a fuss and their table, but kids understand that they can’t head over to the next table and bother strangers. They know they can “bug” us because we love them unconditionally.
    Anyways, all of this to say that you are doing a fantastic job and H &H will grow up knowing you love them to pieces. It’s a win/win.

  9. my son will be 3 in february. we have the same issues in our house right now. i feel your pain, and i am ‘glad’ someone feels mine. our son dylan, is very smart like hudson- he is probably about a year ahead of where he should be- and this does present issues for us sometimes (good & bad!). as many trying times that we have, our little boy is just as sweet and caring and a big ol’ lovey. its a fine line i walk every day between feeling like a monster to him and feeling like i let him walk all over me. even though he acts and speaks like a 4 year old, i have to keep telling myself, “he is just 2.5, he is just 2.5″. my expectations of him are sometimes too high- and i am that way to myself as well. i just expect too much! some days i add on the guilt of working, of dylan being in school all day, the two of us only getting about 2 hours a day with my husband, the house not being clean enough, dinner not being ready, and those are the days i feel like steam comes out of my ears. but the days that i relax and just tell myself my “mantra”, they have been going a lot better lately. i just have to suck it up and let it go, i want our son to be happy and i want the little time we have together to be happy as well :)

  10. Have you read unconditional parenting by alfie kohn? It deals with a lot of this exact thing. It is a bit frustrating because it doesn’t tell you what to do in every situation, but it gives a great frame of reference and a way to think about things differently. It has really helped me and my sister with our little ones. One of the main things it addresses is that a lot of the methods we are raised to think “work” either don’t work (you have to keep doing them) or they can possibly hurt your relationship with your little one long term. My sister has had some amazing results with her little guys and we are starting it with our munchkin now and are really happy with where its going. Hugs to you because it sure isn’t easy!

    http://dirtdonthurtmom.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/unconditional-parenting/
    http://www.twobedroomsandababy.com/2011/09/unconditional-parenting-and-why-it.html
    http://www.twobedroomsandababy.com/2011/08/unconditional-parenting-and-why-it.html

  11. Oh Erin! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I needed to hear this post from another mother. I woke up today so exhausted and defeated. I am overwhelmed will all the changes about to happen (We’re expecting #2 in April) and with Bryson who’s the same age as Hudson, I’m so terrified! How in the world will I be able to take care of two children?
    Thank you so much for you honesty! You haven idea what it means to this mother!!!

  12. Hi honey, you took the word’s right out of my mouth/head/heart! My son is 3 1/2 and is testing us like never before! Like you, I feel so badly about correcting him or telling him no…our biggest struggle is having him “listen” to what Mommy and Daddy tell him without an argument or ignoring us. My new tactic is to try to speak calmly always (I loathe raising my voice and always feel like a jerk when I do so…sigh) and let him know that Momma is telling him to do something from a place of love (not to boss him). It’s all a work in progress LOL I’m a working mom and I find when I’m stressed about something, I’m short with him as well….so I try to keep a level head and find balance and make my time with him loving/nuturing as possible. I think it’s something all parents struggle with…so know you’re not alone :) )) Thanks you for sharing your thoughts and posting on this issue. Hugs, Lisa

  13. Oh Erin, our two Hudson’s are kindred spirits. Seriously, I couldn’t explain my own child more accurately than your description of your Hudson. This age is SO much fun, but it is SO trying at the same time. I love that we are able to carry on conversations, but I hate that he is openly defiant & tells me “No, Mommy!” or “Stop it, Mommy” a hundred times a day! I agree that the fact that he KNOWS what he is doing is wrong makes it so much more difficult to discipline. Especially when the act is repeated time & time again. I, too, worry about being a Mom that he thinks does nothing but scold him, but I also want him to grow up respecting people & their things. I have to remind myself that this is just a season & that the good memories are bound to shine through as well. Keep me posted & please share anything that works for you! :-)

  14. Kelly Sites says:

    To all of your mommys of 2 and 3 year olds,

    I’m a mom – I have twins. They are now 13 years old. I want to encourage each and every one of you….RIGHT NOW, once and for all. I SOOO REMEMBER the days of being where you are. The days are LONG and so exhausting. You feel like all you do is say NO one million times and you are up and down, up and down constantly trying to keep your kid alive or out of the knife drawer.

    I’m telling you, the 2 and 3 year old years are the HARDEST…..raising kids never gets totally easy, but it gets sooo much better. I promise. All of the discipline you give today, really does pay off tomorrow…so keep at it. Your kid will NOT remember one minute of the bad days….I promise. As long as you have many many good days, lots of hugs, lots of love, the days where you are a screaming idiot will not even be a memory. I have chills at some of the ways I acted when my kids were little and I was so tired and DONE with it all. But, persevere, pray like crazy, get a little break now and then, and appreciate the really good days. Don’t beat yourself up!!!!!!!!

    Hugs and love to you, don’t give up!!!
    Kelly

  15. You hit the nail on the head again with this post! Ever since I lost my job I feel like I have let Hudson down in some way, like having to take him out of yet another preschool because I didn’t want to drive 35 minutes. He pushes my buttons to no end and yes, sometimes scary mommy comes out and then I immediately regret it. I don’t know if it is boys or what but he sure is a stubborn little thing! He was potty trained over 3 months ago but is now back in pull ups because he could just care less if he wets himself and I got tired of scary mommy coming out every time he pooed in his underwear or wet his pants in the car! I am hoping that the 3′s aren’t as bad but unfortunately I hear they can be worse! I shall be praying for not only my sanity but for all the moms out there! Let us know how it turns out and if you have any helpful hints!

  16. I love your honesty. We love to show the best sides of our kids, but it’s also great to be real and acknowledge how un-perfect we all are. We’re battling a strong willed toddler too…so much that my husband is actually reading a parenting book (and he NEVER reads!)

  17. I think I have felt these same feelings/emotions over the course of the last 2 years. The good news is that each stage does go away but the bad news is that a new stage emerges. Just when we’ve conquered one obstacle, defiance for example, something new rears it’s ugly head. You hit the nail on the head when you said he is testing you. He absolutely is and most of the time without even realizing what he’s doing. It’s up to you to hold your ground and be consistent! I have found consistency is the foundation that my son needs. He’s very routine-oriented and needs that consistency. I do my best to explain why we don’t do something, as opposed to saying “no” all the time. I try to avoid that word as much as possible because like you said, I felt like that’s all I was saying. I’ve recently found that my son reacts much better to very soft, calm talking, as opposed to raising my voice. This actually works wonders for me too because I’m able to calm down at the same time. I generally give him a huge bear hug and whisper in his ear that I want him to calm down and I’m going to go calm down too. I then leave him in a chair in a separate room and we both get a chance to cool off.

    I hope you find what works for you. I understand your exhaustion!!

  18. I’m so sorry you are going through a trying time, my friend! Sending lots of prayers your way. Love you!

  19. Erin – what a beautiful post. I am terrified of my future with Peanut as a 2 year old since she is already rather defiant and opinionated at the ripe age of 8 months, but I’m also really looking forward to it. It’s going to be hard to remember that no one expects me or my child to be perfect.

  20. Erin, you are definitely not alone. As a mom of a 3 year old, 2 year old and 4 month old I feel like you describe every single day. I love my littles but yes they wear me out!

  21. Withhold Not Correction by Bruce Ray is a wonderful book to read. Lou Priolo has a couple of great books, too- The Heart of Anger- just the first chapter or two would be pertinent to you- and Teach Them Diligently are two titles worth perusing. Be encouraged- if you and your husband seek to make a discipline opportunity focused on the heart rather than simply external behavioral changes, it becomes an opportunity to evangelize your child. We are called to bring our children out of childhood over the course of their time in our homes. It requires great humility, lots of prayer, and wisdom beyond us, but He tells us to ask and He’ll give us all we need. He is using you to complete the good work He has started in your children and vice versa…certainly a cause to rejoice and delight in our God!

  22. Oh my dear, you are certainly not alone. These years where we are everything to them. The years they can’t do anything themselves and we are at their beck and call. It is exhausting. They begin making decisions for themselves and however small, it always seems that they are important learning lessons.

    For instance, don’t climb up the stairway banister! You could fall and hurt yourself! There’s a lesson for them to learn from that. But it’s so hard not to scream out of frustration and fear.

    For that reason, we constantly feel like we’re failures. We didn’t handle situations right and our sons or daughters suffer because of our mistakes. But we have the right to mess up every now and again. Even though I’m three years into this parenting thing I’m still learning. We’ll forever be learning.

    You want to hear it so I’ll say it. You’re not alone.

  23. I cannot believe that this was your post today! I literally was having this exact same dialogue in my head this morning! My husband was correcting our little guy as I was getting ready in the other room. I could tell after several corrections/redirections that my husband was getting impatient. It happens to me too. It happens to the best of us. I went in and tried to remind him that we must stay patient. We try to remind each other of that all of the time. I said to my husband that I do believe we need to discipline him and tell him no, etc., but we need to do it in a way that he will respond. No one likes being constantly corrected. We as adults wouldn’t respond favoribly to that either. We have to acknowledge our son’s feelings, correct him patiently, and redirect him to the “right” way of doing things. We need to have realistic expectations. No one is perfect, but all we can do is our best and they will turn out just fine. Afterall, we did. :)

  24. I am right there with you! It is tough, but one thing tougher is raising a 2 1/2 year old and a 10 year old! I can tell you the 10 year old is making me very unhappy on most days! I have several friends with 10 year old boys, and we are all comparing notes and saying the same things. It’s the pre-pubecent angst, I guess! It’s miserable. Exactly what you said about the scary mommy is what I feel like daily….but not with the 2 year old…it’s with the 10 year old! I don’t know how I am going to navigate the teens very well. I really do worry about it! But the Lord will help us! Just know that there is something worse than 2…..and it’s 8 years down the road!!!!

  25. I’m the mom of a four year old and you are by no means alone. Things have gotten better as he has grown but boy- howdy, do we have our days. You are doing what’s right. Stand your ground. I also appreciate your honesty. There are so many moms that present their children as angels and I’ve met very few angelic toddlers. Hang in there. You’re not a bad mom and one day this will all pay off. :)

  26. I feel the same way day after day! This morning, I had my yearly physical and my doctor who is also a mother was telling me how it’s so hard even for her to get the life-work balance right while maintaining some level of sanity. She admited that she screams and yells then feels guilty at night while trying to go to sleep. I feel the same way! It does make me feel better to know that we are all in this together – no matter where we live,what we do or other circumstances – raising children is just hard work when done correctly! Hang in there!

  27. my youngest is 8 and I feel like the Evil Stepmother!! They are young and willful.. I sometimes have to break her willfullness without breaking her spirit!

  28. Have you read Unconditional Parenting? It’s by Alfie Kohn. I’m just reading it & it’s an eye opener, it’s challenging because it’s different to how we think we should act but it’s very interesting.

  29. I just did post yesterday where I mentioned our trials and tribulations with a 26-month-old. I am a mother to her and one on the way, a wife, a 3rd grade teacher, and lots of other roles, and there are many days lately when I feel like I’m not doing any of those jobs well. Discipline, boundaries, respect, and all those other things we’re instilling are so overwhelming because they are such an important part of who our children are. Did you ever do the Moms on Call toddler seminar? I have been considering it and would love some feedback.

  30. What a timely word, my friend. Lately, I can turn into “scary mommy” in no time flat and I feel like I’ve had the worst attitude. I think it would be better if I had more sleep…more time…more obedient children…but mostly I need more JESUS! My time with Him has lacked in quality and quantity since becoming a mommy of two and I NEED to figure this out so I can be the best wife and mommy I can be. :)

  31. As I put my 2 1/2 year old to bed last night, he was yelling, I was yelling, and it was not a pleasant experience. I thought to myself, bedtime is not supposed to be like this-it’s supposed to be peaceful. Why does he refuse to lay down and why do I yell at him to do it? Why does it seem like all he does is out act and all I do is get on to him?

    You wrote exactly what I’ve been feeling and thinking. Luckily all we can do is try our best, pray for patience, and be grateful that our kids love us-imperfections and all.

  32. You just read my mind! Glad than I am not alone. Our son is 32 months. I hate saying ‘no’ to him all day long. After I put him to bed in the evening, I feel like the worst mother. And I feel like he didn’t get to have any fun because all I did all day was tell him ‘no.’ Thanks for your honesty! It’s nice to know that we are not going through this alone, even though that is how we feel.

  33. My mum had a sign up in the kitchen that said
    ” Looking after children is like being pecked to death by chickens ! ”
    Now I am a mum myself, I know exactly what it means.
    We have had the worst weather here so it has meant fewer days out for Ché.
    A 15 month old with cabin fever is not easy, teething doesn’t help either.
    He is now asleep and mummy is enjoying her first HOT cup of tea of the day and a bar of chocolate from her secret stash !
    Why don’t we have a competition to see which mummy can come up with the most alternate ways to say no ? I’ve now started saying ” Ché what did I say about digging up houseplants…etc” and I can see his little mind trying to remember the conversation. It makes me smile when I get an “uh oh” as a reply.

  34. ‘this is a season’.. I like that. It’s so true with parenting isn’t it? Everything is constantly changing- you need to remember it won’t be like this forever! My little guy is only 4 months old, so I am yet to reach the ‘terrible two’s', but being a teacher I do understand the defiance of children and the need to set boundaries and discipline children. You’re doing the right thing. You’re not mean Mummy. Kids will respect you for this, as they need more than just a ‘friend’- you’re their Mum.

  35. Let me just say that the fact that you even wrote this post shows that you are a great mom. He will definitely not remember you as “scary mommy”.

    The other thing I wanted to tell you is that I have heard that kids get a lot more challenging right around birthdays and half-birthdays–it’s obviously a loose time line since kids all develop at slightly different rates. I have definitely found it to be true, though. It is also always toughest right before a big developmental breakthrough. We would always be trucking along so peacefully, and then it would come out of nowhere and be the most stressful period for a while.

    It’s never just a bed of roses. Now that mine are in second grade, we are starting to help them navigate social dynamics at school, and it’s tough!! I know it’s just going to get a whole lot more tough. I just remind myself that it’s all worth it, and I can’t wait to see who they become.

    Keep your chin up!!

  36. I am fighting the same battle with a 2 year old, Erin. I constantly worry that I am to often that “scary mom” that you are talking about. And while these times are hard on his, I still want to savor every minute because before we know they will be grown up, and we will be wishing for them to be little again! I tell myself alot that I expect too much out of someone so little, but at the same time, like you said, they are very smart, and they ARE testing us to see what the limits are. We have to have discipline, but one day (a LONG time from now, lol) when we have grandkids we can make them rotten and leave them to our kids to do the hard work!! :)

  37. As a mom of a 12 and 9 year old, I can tell you they will NOT remember exactly what you said when they were 2. Keep up the good work, it’s hard and exhausting and feels like you’re not making a whit of a difference. But then…voila! They use their “inside voice” when they are supposed to one day. And then another day they say “please and thanks”. And on and on…

    Another really useful hint is to tell them what you DO want them to do and not what you DON’T want them to do. I used to say “walking feet please!” about 20 times a day when my kids ran around. Or “chairs are for sitting” when they stood in their chairs. Somehow their little brains seem to understand directions when we are crystal clear.

    Good luck!

  38. I always feared the “terrible twos” until my son turned three (a month ago). It was as if he realized “oh wait, I’m three now. That means I’m smarter, I need to challenge Mommy and Daddy more and I need to test every limit I can.” He turned from a mostly sweet boy to a fresh-mouthed, defiant, moody little kid seemingly overnight. I know every kid is different but I’ve since heard from many parents that three is definitely more challenging than two so you had better brace yourself for what is to come as I am now! :)

  39. I have a 21month old and an 11 week old and I feel bad for my older girl that not only is she having to adjust to sharing her mommy but she gets fussed at ALL DAY some days. I know that in the end it will be for her benefit but it’s so hard to feel like all I do some days is tell her that what she’s doing is wrong!

  40. My Mom is constantly giving me a pep talk about this. When I find myself exhausted from correcting Amelia, she reminds me that I must fight these small battles with her now and there will be very few battles when she’s older. It is so exhausting some days though. He won’t remember you as a mean Mama. I remember my Mama as nothing but loving and she always won the battles with the 6 of us kiddos. :)

    You’re not alone.

  41. I have been blogging about a class at Church we are doing called Grace Based Parenting. I think you’d like (and relate to) the book. A few of the couples actually have boys Hudson’s age. I just read the chapter on Secure Love, and it talks a lot about how to decide which battles to choose and what to let go. And we’ve done a lot of talking in our group about how not to discipline every little thing and come up with a list a mile long so that our kids DO remember us as warm, compassionate, Godly parents. Check it out.

  42. Many days I repeat to myself, “This will all be worth it in the end”. The tears, screaming, yelling, and just plain rude (for everyone) will pass and then I can laugh about it. I’m a teacher. Please don’t give up. When they are 10 and 11 in my classroom, I can tell you exactly whose parents constantly reminded and disciplined their kids down this road and who didn’t. I prefer those who did! Be strong!!

  43. My son just turned 2.5 and I am feeling it as well! I have just gotten to become a stay at home mommy beginning in June and boy, is this the toughest job I’ve ever had! Our biggest battle right now (and the last 2-3 months) has been not wanting to sleep. He might miss something fun!

    I like to say that parenting a 2 year old is so good when it’s good and SO bad when it’s bad! I have honestly never had more fun with James than I do at this age….. well at least until a tantrum happens.

    Thanks for sharing. You spoke to my heart.

  44. Gosh, I wish I could tell you it gets easier! I have had to be scary mom for most of the last 8 years with my boys, but I guess I’m not scary enough because they STILL don’t listen to me until I get REALLY loud. It’s horrible! Just last week I hit a wall and was sobbing because I TRULY just want to love them and us to have good days, but it does NOT seem like they want that AT ALL! But know that it’s not just you and that this post helps those of us who also feel alone in this battle. And thanks for the Bible verse – definitely needed! I hope tomorrow is a better day for both you and Hudson.

  45. Oh Erin, you always put things together SO well. I almost didn’t even bother to comment, because I’m sure each one of the other comments is saying the same thing I’m thinking – and that is that I agree! My 21-month-old could very well have been the main character in this post rather than Hudson. :) We’ll get through this!

  46. I’m not much of an advice giver (but I do love reading advice of others!) but having gone through this 2-ish stage with two boys I can offer this: one of the very few pieces of advice my own mom gave me is that kids very quickly learn what is right to do and what is wrong and they also very quickly learn the consequences of doing right and wrong. Literally by 1 year old they know in a general sense “if I climb on top of the sofa and stand up I could fall off and/or mommy will tell me no-no”. So my mom’s advice to me was to not constantly threaten without any action. Meaning, don’t continually say “If you do that one more time you are going to time out.” Simply put them in time out. If they throw food, take the food away and they wait until the next meal to eat. No discussion, no drama, no buying into the tantrum that might follow. No threatening “I’ll give it back but if you throw it again, that’s it.” Strong willed kids are only strong willed when they have someone to be willed against. It’s easier said than done but I promise it doesn’t take long to master.

  47. Sarah Shelton says:

    I am so glad you posted this! I feel the same way. I am so TYPE A that when she verges off that path I get angry. I’m just as stubborn as she is and I refuse to let her win. Then I feel horrible because I have yelled at her or swatted her. I feel horrible. I think “Do I ever just have fun with her?” I know I do because she loves me so. I try to stop and live in the moment but it is so hard sometimes…and I only have 1!

  48. I have a super persistent, intelligent, curious daughter who is almost 1. I know that more challenges lie ahead of me as she grows into her personality and figures out that she can make decisions for herself! Thanks for your honesty in posting about how difficult it is.

    I am trying to prepare by reading, as I am sure you did also! I’m loving the philosophy of “Love and Logic” books right now.

  49. I don’t have kids of my own, but as someone who was raised with rules and restrictions and discipline I want to tell you that someday, probably a long way down the road but someday, he will thank you for this. As a kid and teenager I may have disliked the rules my parents had for me, but looking back now, I’m a much better person for it.

    I don’t think he’ll remember you as the “scary mommy”. He’s going to remember the fun times you had, and eventually, when he’s old enough to understand and admit it, he’s going to see that you had his best interests at heart and that he’s a good person *because* of how you raised him.

    Best wishes!

  50. I have a 13 month old girl and am already nervous about the next year an a half…I plan on reading up on lots of FABULOUS and GODLY mommy bloggers like yourself for all of the tricks of the trade. ;) Thanks for being transparent….I recently read a book and though I didnt love the book, one of her key phrases was “the days are long but the years are short” – and that is so so true. While the days are exhausting and long and trying at times, the years are short and one day these long days will become fond memories. Praying for you tonight!!

  51. As a child clinical psychologist, I just wanted to chime in quickly to remind you that along with correcting and redirecting of the unwanted behavior, make sure to give him double the praise and positive attention for the behaviors you DO want. So often, parents ignore a child when they are doing the “right” thing, and give them attentive (even if it’s negative) when they are doing the “wrong” thing. Make sure not to forget to reward Hudson with lots of positive attention and praise any time you see him engaging in a behavior that you would like him to learn and continue!

  52. You are most definitely NOT alone :) Thanks for speaking for us and posting this.

  53. I feel like you have this way of knowing exactly what your readers are going through. I have been experiencing the same thing. It has been such a hard battle with my strong-willed child. The only advice I can give from my experiences that has helped me is prayer. Lots and lots and lots of prayer. I also love Dr. Dobson. He gives practical advice that I have used and every time I do use it , it works. I have read Raising Boys. I recommend it. I learned so much and I am reading Strong Willed Child. It is such a hard battle but it is one that we can win because Jesus is on our side. He handpicked us to be our children’s mothers. I don’t understand it sometimes because I feel so unworthy and not good enough, but I guess that is the wonderful thing…. because then we rely completely on Him and surrender our children to Him. You are doing a wonderful job and the fact that you wrote this shows how much you care and love your children. God sees that and He will honor you. Just keep on fighting the good fight :)

  54. My son is 3 1/2 and we still correct and discipline all day. It is exhausting, frustrating, and hard on both of us but I know I am shaping him into a good child. I try to remember, this is just a season. This time will pass and we will be so glad for all the work we put in to our children, and so will they. Also, it took me about a year after my second was born to find myself again. It is a really tough time right now with 2 young babies but it will pass and it will get better. The fact that you care so much about all of this makes you a great Mother. Just don’t give up on yourself!

  55. You’re right… you do only get once chance BUT! If you put this much feeling into a blog post, you’re obviously putting feeling & care into raising your children. No, you’re not alone! And yes, it is a “season” that will pass. But with the passing of a season, comes another one. Live each day to it’s fullest and be the best damn mom you can be. You can’t make your children be who they’re going to be as adults but you can lay the groundwork (which you are!). Hope you have a fabulous, not “scary mommy” day!! :)

  56. My son is only 16 months, but I could have written this! I’ve actually been thinking of writing a similar post because I feel like I often sugar coat like with a toddler and I don’t want it to seem like we don’t have our issues, and I would also like to know that I’m not alone and this is normal! I am always having to say no and correct him and I hate it. Like you, I feel that he will remember and always think of me as the mean mom. But I can’t let him go around touching the stove, pulling hair, etc. It’s a fine line. But you are a great mommy to both of your boys, and you are only doing what’s best for them and their best interest!

  57. It is amazing how great being a mommy can be, but also who much it can hurt at times. We all hit that point that we feel a bit like a failure. My troubles with my boy are currently eating issues – no fun! With my daughter, lots of devopmental issues (http://kymommy.blogspot.com/2011/08/honesty-about-kids-part-i.html). She is behind and has qualified for extra help, but I can’t help but feel like a failure as a Mom :(

    I know that this time is tough for you, and as you said, you will get through it and Hudson will be the better for it I’m sure!

  58. I feel your pain. We have been struggling with my 4-year-old since she was 10 months old. She is strong-willed. She is intelligent. She is driven, and she has a precious and sensitive little heart. She searches for the boundaries, and demands that they remain the same. I can show her how much I love her by keeping the boundaries the same, every single time. Trust me, it does get better, and it does get worse. He needs to know where the boundaries are, and at the same time he needs to see you model love and forgiveness. He needs you to tell him you are sorry when you raise your voice and become “scary mom” and he needs you to model the grace and forgiveness of Christ all while showing him the ways that are good. Difficult? absolutely. Impossible? Nothing is impossible with the help of our loving father who will continually show us what is noble and right in our own lives. God bless you in this journey of motherhood. Oh my, it is incredibly humbling.

  59. What a super post, Erin. Thank you for being so honest and for saying the things that any mom of young children is thinking.

    I have a five-year-old daughter I adopted (I’m not married), and while I’m at the almost-six-years-old stage now, the feelings you so eloquently expressed are the very same – especially when you talk about the “scary mommy” who is constantly correcting and redirecting. I admire the job you do as a mom to both Hudson and Hayes very much. The love you have for them is completely obvious to any reader of your blog, and it’s clear you’re constantly trying to do the best for them.

    I came across the following quotation about a year ago, and I think of it often when I’m feel pushed to the limit as far as my patience with my daughter goes. It’s written for teachers of children, but it’s applicable to parents as well. I especially like the part about “making the weather” and find myself repeating that in my head. It’s a simple idea, yet one that is very true.

    “I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.”
    ― Haim G. Ginott

    Thanks for yet another great post. Please keep them coming. :)

  60. I totally understand. I’ve got one strong-willed little girl (I thought girls were supposed to be easy?!?!). Some days, she totally throws me for a loop and nothing will make her happy. It tries my patience to no end- but I love her more than anything in the world and miss her 30 minutes after putting her in bed for the night. crazy.
    As a former Preschool Teacher for Special Nees children, I’ve learned A LOT about behavior modification. And I am all to familiar with the “who wins” struggle. What I learned in the classroom, is that if I don’t get into the scuffle in the first place, than it doesn’t matter about a winner. Essentially, I did a whole lot of positive reinforcement for behaviors I liked, and ignored (with purpose and intent) behaviors I didn’t like. We also did a lot of options (oh, you don’t want to put on your shoes, eat dinner, clean up, etc?? Then you have to go sit and think about it (time out)? Are you choosing to go sit and think?? or do you want to come be with me?) This might not work for Hudson as he is still a little young, but see what his reinforcements are.
    I can tell you are a wonderful mom, don’t beat yourself up! Discipline is hard!
    I’ve learned that I am a happier mother/person if I can let a lot of things go and not be so controlling. It was hard, but I know God has helped calm my heart.
    P.S. here’s a little post I wrote on discipline in our house:
    http://thejenksfamilyblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/its-controversial.html

  61. I really needed to hear this today. “my husband, my children nor God expect me to be perfect. And that also means that my children will not be perfect.” It is something that I really struggle with and especially this week with everyone being sick at our house. Great post, thank you for sharing.

  62. This was such a great post! I feel SO guilty when I turn into “scary mommy” too. It’s refreshing to see that I’m not the only one that has this struggle.

  63. This was a post I needed to read. Thank you for sharing your feelings on this subject matter. I have a 3 year old daughter and I feel the same about her. She has always been head strong and bright. Sometimes I swear she wakes up thinking about how she will test me!! Sweet girl but “hell on wheels”! I agree, we shouldn’t feel guilty for “redirecting” bad behavior and NO they will not remember us as “scary”! They will remember us as a mother who raised them correctly so they can be successful, kind, Godly people!! Thanks for sharing!

  64. Great post! I am gonna save this for later in life.

  65. you are a wonderful/loving mother. i have witnessed this!! our children are strong willed which will present a challenge for us always. we are always going to have our “yelling moments” but those will eb overshaddowed by our loving ones :) always here for you to vent. thankful i have you to vent TO :) love you

  66. Oh girl I totally feel your pain – and I just know you’re doing a great job as a mommy!

  67. I’m a couple days late reading this post, I meant to the other day and then got sidetracked chasing my 14 month old somewhere. While I don’t completely understand where you are because I’ve never been there…I do understand that struggle of wanting to raise our kids well, in a loving home, with loving words, and not be “scary” mommy…or at least be less “scary” mommy than “together” mommy. Can I just encourage you for a second? If Hudson knows that you love him, and that he’s safe with you and around you…you’re doing a great job. If he knows that he can make mistakes and you’ll still love him…you’re doing a great job. If you’re exhausted at the end of the day…well, God’s mercies are new every morning.

    My husband and I just finished a 6 week class called Love & Logic. It’s this program that was created by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. I can’t recommend it enough! The principles in the book are straight out of the bible, the strategies are completely common sense. It removes the power struggle between parents and kids. Another book {or CD set} that I recommend is called Loving Our Kids On Purpose by Danny Silk. He’s a pastor out in California and he basically took the Love and Logic principles, added even more scripture, applied it to the kingdom of heaven, and gives parents a pep talk the whole way through the book. It’s really incredible, and when you read them you think, “Oh my gosh! This stuff is revolutionary!!!” But, it’s not. It’s just really common sense stuff about human behavior, and how to parent with that.

    Whatever you do, and however the road curves out in front of you, I sincerely wish you the best of luck. I will be praying for you every time I read your blog….thanks for writing so openly and honestly about something that so many mothers struggle with.

  68. My favorite quote that sums up what your current season in life is about right now, is “With kids the days are LONG, but the years are short”. It’s so true. I have three boys, ages 12, 10, and 6 and when the 10 and 12 year old were little like yours are , it was tough! Best of luck and enjoy those boys like I know you do, they will grow up in the blink of an eye.

  69. You’re not alone! All mom’s wonder if they are raising their child correctly! You didn’t receive a book or guide for raising YOUR child, so do the best you can and think about how much your child loves you, as well as how much you love him. They do grow-up so fast, so enjoy every moment.
    BTW – the link for the hair bows $4 or less is not working.

  70. Do you remember anything when you were two? think about it, its temporary… you can fight a bear for a little while. Don’t worry, scary mommy is much better than push over mommy (yes, I do know don’t worry is silly to say to any mom but have faith in yourself)

  71. thanks for keepin’ it real, erin. take if from me – someone who (a) came late the manners and discipline party in the life of my pre-teen and (b) who also has to be careful to “stay in her lane” – i wish there had been someone like you in her life back when she was hudson’s age. someone who was not afaid to be the parent.. someone who showed love by being firm and consistent in setting boundaries. hudson’s future wife will thank you for this. keep the faith. and again, thanks for telling it like it is.

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