Penny turned two, 3 months ago and here is what I’ve realized so far. Two is different, challenging and has tested my patience more than I could have expected. I consider myself a very passive and patient person, especially with my baby girl. However, the transition for myself as a first time mom into this stage in Penny’s life has brought me to tears. Not tears of anger but more frustration with myself when I am not able to understand what my daughter needs. Penny has tantrums like most kids do. They started creeping up before her birthday when she went through a very attached stage towards Ben and myself. Usually her tantrums are triggered by hunger or being tired or even just being told no. But it was not until last month that I hit a place where my patience and ability to stay calm during one of Penny’s tantrums became more difficult.
We had just come back from Provincetown and Ben had to go back to work after being with us for almost a week. Penny had been asking for Ben all morning and every time I told her he was working, or that we will see him soon, she would lose it. She would bring me her shoes and my shoes and say, “daddy, daddy, daddy!”. Her way of telling me, “c’mon mom let’s go see daddy!” This is where the frustration escalates with Penny at this age. She has so much to say and ask but her vocabulary does not have the words just yet. That afternoon I told my mom I would help her take my grandmother to her doctors appointment. So I got Penny ready, packed some snacks and we left.
We were in the waiting room filling out some forms when Penny started to get restless. I took her for a walk down the hallway and tried to keep her entertained. My mom and grandmother were already in with the nurse at this point. That’s when she started asking for daddy again. “Daddy, daddy, daddy!”, “Mom, my daddy, my daddy!”. Trying to tell her he was working and showing her pictures of him wasn’t calming her down so I decided to FaceTime Ben. Yea, that made things worse! She became angry and frustrated that Ben was not here with us and it was like she couldn’t understand why. She took my phone and threw it across the room and started screaming, “daddy, daddy, my daddy!”
I went to tell my mom and grandma that I was going to take Penny home because she was having a meltdown. My mom tried to help but there was no calming Penny down. I tried to hold her, she pushed me away. I tried to put her in the stroller, she kicked. I tried to talk to her and tell her daddy would be home soon and she grabbed my shirt and just kept screaming, “daddy, daddy!”. She threw herself on the floor of the hallway where patients were being seen. As I was trying to get her out of the doctor’s office her screaming and cry’s became so loud that the doctor’s and nurses started to come out of the rooms to see what what was going on. I tried to pick Penny up and push the stroller and just get her somewhere we could be alone and she could have a moment to just regroup. That’s when she just went boneless and started swinging her arms to be put down. I felt so helpless. I couldn’t calm her down, I couldn’t make her daddy appear in front of her. I couldn’t give her what she needed. She had never gotten like this and I was completely out of ideas.
As I struggled to get Penny to calm down, a nurse came out of a private bathroom by the elevator. I ask her if there was anyone inside, she said no. I asked her if I could go in there for a few minutes so I could calm my daughter down. She said yes, of course to the flustered mom with the screaming kid. Phew! I took Penny in there and told her to scream all she wanted but that we were going to stay in there until she was ready. I sat on the floor and told I was there if she needed me. 30 minutes later she stopped crying. She came to me and asked me to put her in the stroller. I gave her a hug, kissed her and we went home. We picked Ben up from the train station, when he came home from work and Penny glued herself to him for the rest of the night. She was all smiles for the rest of the day.
When I got home I felt incredibly frustrated. Frustrated because I started questioning if I could have handled the situation in a better way. But ever since that day I’ve tried to be more patient in figuring out what Penny needs when she turns into a boneless, screaming mess. Penny needs to work through her emotions the only way she knows how and sometimes, that is crying along with some screaming. She can’t sit on my lap and tell me why she is frustrated in words that I can understand. She’s speaking and expanding her vocabulary everyday but it will be a while until we can say goodbye to the language barrier of adult vs toddler. I can only show her I am there when she needs me, be there to pick up her off the ground and be her comfort zone. That is what I tell myself whenever I feel frustrated. One day this process and stage will progress and she will learn to communicate with her words instead of her cries.
Till then I feel like it’s up to me to make sure she feels safe and able to express herself the only way she know how. Regardless of the public scenes or the judgmental looks from people who are staring at your kid having the meltdown of all meltdowns. Who cares. My kid is awesome and no matter how bad this stage might get, I will always feel the deepest amount of gratitude and privilege of being her mama. So maybe you’re in a similar place or hey maybe you’re approaching it and my story is making you nervous. Don’t be. Just remember, it’s temporary, it will pass and the good days will outshine the challenging ones. You will figure out what your baby needs and what works for you.
Do you want to know what I do when I have a rough day with Penny?
I look at these.
I remember how small she was and how fast the last 2 years have gone by. And just like that my day doesn’t seem so rough and I look forward to her waking me up in the morning, asking me for an apple. Cause you know, that’s her fav.