16 months, 10 days and some odd hours and minutes.
That's how far apart my youngest babies came out of my womb.
When my son turned 16 months, I was shocked to think about my daughter having been so little when he was born. Yet looking back at pictures, she was... a baby holding her baby brother.
We didn't plan for only 16 months. We both wanted three, but I hadn't thought to myself, "boy would it be awesome to breastfeed for three years," or "I'd love to just not sleep again... ever."
But it happened like that- guess we weren't really not planning for 16 months either, since we are grown-ass adults and surely know what birth control is at this point.
People keep saying that someday we are going to love them being so close in age.
Ahh, they are going to be best friends!
It will be like having a live-in playmate!
Having a sister only 20 months younger than me, I know there is truth in these well-meaning words. Of course my sister and I are close, especially since we jointly had six kids in six years. But I'd bet that my mom would have lots to share about how great that went 36 years ago.
Truth is, I feel like I'm losing my mind most of the time. The constant bickering between two highly emotional toddlers. One always wanting the other's toy. Someone always upset about what the other gets to do or doesn't have to do. Always a competition about who gets to sit closest to Mama, who gets to go to the store with Mama, who gets to have their teeth brushed, who gets dressed, who gets their butt wiped by Mama.
And the never ending tattling and telling... I mean, I'm pretty sure that at this point they simply enjoy getting each other in trouble.
The only time they seem to be on the same page is when they are both starving and absolutely cannot wait for one more second. Or when one of them sleeps in but the other is up at the crack of dawn. Or when their bathrooming business is in sync down to the minute. And of course there is the tag team effort to destroy the entire house in .024 seconds.
I know it'll get easier. I can see that in the sweet (if not quick) moments of cooperative play. I can see it in the giggles when they are laughing at something together, rather than at each other. I can see it in the hugs and kisses I sometimes catch them giving. I could see it tonight when my daughter called her brother into her room, telling me he's her "buddy."
But damn... it sure is exhausting right now.
My line of work can sometimes present a dilemma as a parent. I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one, as I've had the conversation many times with my colleagues-how easy it is to think about the reasons behind behaviors from 8:30 to 4:30; yet how difficult that becomes when we arrive home to our own children. It is SO HARD!
Years of experience, education, research, and reading has lent itself to a mindset of always thinking about the "purpose" behind behaviors. It's understanding the purpose that can lend itself to supports and interventions to help change behaviors that are disruptive or unsafe.
But good lord is that hard to do at home.
It is so difficult to step back from the difficult, loud, time-consuming and sometimes just plain annoying behaviors of our own offspring for long enough to think about the purpose. What comes easily at work is absolutely the opposite of easy at home.
What is easy at home is to get swept up in how inconvenient and frustrating a behavior is. It's easy to react, to overreact or to engage in any desperate attempt to just MAKE IT STOP. I cannot tell you how many times I've been in the throes of dealing with a tantrum and have thought to myself, "I do this for a living... how the hell do I feel like I know NOTHING?!"
I started working on an article with Sumitha from A Fine Parent quite some time ago. Her website/blog is simply amazing- the articles are detailed and research based (my kinda thing); yet reader friendly and relatable. The writing not only focuses on helping the reader think about parenting in a different way, but provides action plans that can actually be carried out in our millions of tough, real life parenting situations.
I'm thankful that Sumitha took a chance on my writing and this little idea I had to turn my "work mode" mind into something that can perhaps be helpful to parents.
Without further ado, please take a peak at How to Alter Your Child's "Problem" Behaviors Like a Specialist.
...and make no mistake-it is also a much needed reminder to this Mama!
Please check out all the other writing on A Fine Parent- there are others far better than mine! This article about how to stop judging other parents was particularly impactful. Cause, be honest- we all do it!