• Kristina Mulligan

The Not-So-Terrible Twos

Approaching my son’s second birthday – well, if I’m being honest, the second I announced that I was pregnant – people warned me about the “Terrible Twos.” I’m sure, though, whether you have children or not, you are familiar with this stage of toddlerhood. You’re warned of the temper tantrums, the screaming, the yelling and attitude, and your inevitable mental breakdown.

Now that I have a two-year-old, I’m still far from an expert but I feel that I have a better understanding of toddlers. I see the frustration, the desire to be independent, and the attempts to discover boundaries and identity. They are simply learning the world around them and their place in it. Coming from a place of empathy, I feel better equipped to handle the “terribleness” that is toddlerhood. I mean, honestly, imagine a world where there are countless things that you want to do, but are constantly told that you can’t without understanding why. That would make me a little cranky, too.

Of course, I’m not saying that it’s my prerogative to leave my son screaming on the floor of Target after I asked him to hold my hand, just because he needs a moment to express his frustration with me disallowing him to be independent. I simply come from a place of understanding, where I get down on his level, pick him up to standing to have him look in my eyes, and explain that I recognize that he is upset and while it’s okay for people to cry when we’re frustrated, we don’t behave that way. Then we give big hugs and kisses and proceed from there. Will this work every time? Maybe not. It does, however, show your compassion and acknowledgement of their feelings to open those doors of communication when they are able to express themselves more clearly.

With all of the focus on the negative, it’s hard to remember that there is so much more to two! There are many other things that come with two that are unbelievably far from terrible. I will never forget the first time that Flynn heard a bird and tweeted back. What about those times where I look in my rearview mirror and see him bobbing along in his carseat to the music? Or when he wants to be lifted up to see the trees? Before two, I had never seen him laugh while trying to catch the rain and put it in his pocket. I didn’t know of his love for the alphabet or Spider-Man or playing outside. Toddlerhood brought so many snuggles, kisses, and hugs from someone who means it, and knows nothing other than pure love. Plus, nothing is more magical than looking through the eyes of a child – especially the first time they see a giraffe or a rainbow.

Maybe these “twos” aren’t so terrible after all. Maybe they’re wonderful.

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