Terrible Threes?

by Erica Layne on February 9, 2012

To my Park Day girlfriends, I’m sorry I was out of it today. My ears were still ringing from a certain three-year-old’s screaming that morning at home. For a least the fourth time in the last two weeks, I literally felt shellshocked, to the point where my social skills crash and burn because my mind cannot stop stewing over how to get us out of this lovely phase.

I love this spirited little man with all my heart, and I recognize all the progress we have made together. He can be sweeter than apple pie when he wants to be. And until a couple weeks ago, his syrupy sweetness shined through considerably more than his temper. Statements like “I love our beautiful home” and “It makes Heavenly Father so happy when I give things to Chase” spout from his mouth frequently.
But all of a sudden, he is yelling at me over the smallest things (“NO! I DO want you to tell me a story!”) and seems to teeter on this cliff from where he cannot return without my help once he has fallen. (Neither Ryan or I are yellers, fyi.)
I’m trying my best to be consistent with calm statements like “I can’t hear you when you talk that way. Would you like to start over?” But it takes all my willpower to calmly direct him when I’m still puffy-eyed from rolling out of bed only moments before the onslaught begins!
Early this morning, 5:30am, I heard him saying very insistently from his room, “MOM! Mom! MOM! I’m mad!” I went into his room to check on him and found he was asleep. My child was yelling at me in his sleep!

Honestly, I am not telling you this in search of sympathy. (Believe me, I’ve given myself enough pity today to go around for a good long while!) But this is not one of those days when I am going to say that the brief but blissful moments make up for all the hard ones. As mothers, we all say that. We have to. Consciously looking for those moments is what makes this baffling journey of motherhood doable—and thankfully, enjoyable. But some days, let’s just let it be enough to say, this is hard. 

And with that, I bid you good night! I am proudly a morning person and know things always look better with a new day! (Thanks for passing that on, Mom!)



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Jeni February 9, 2012 at 8:10 am

This post is timely for me (and I have one coming that will be pretty similar, but I promise I was thinking about it before I read this!). Olivia has entered a really aggressive stage that is absolutely horrifying to me. Never, EVER, has my child purposefully hit or bit me. Until a few weeks ago. And suddenly it's the only way she knows how to deal with any frustration?
The worst part, I think, is feeling completely powerless to help her when she spirals down that road.
Oh, golly. Can you tell I needed a moment to vent??
But, yes. It's actually pretty validating to say the words, "This is hard." It makes us all feel a little less crazy to acknowledge it, instead of feeling like we have to have it together all the time. This IS hard!

Liz February 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I've had a few of those posts too but I'm happy to be on the up-swing. I'm just glad that it really only is a phase; our boys are super sweet. )ours and yours)

Courtney February 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Oh I am sorry! Bria recently went through a phase like that too. Back to all the hitting and biting and screaming I thought we left behind when she was 2! There was one day she threw a tantrum so awful, she broke some of her toys from throwing them at her door, turned her toy kitchen upside down, and stripped naked in her room all while screaming at me over the course of about 30 minutes. Intense! My sister-in-law told me it's not the terrible twos, it's the terrible 2 1/2 to 3 1/2, and I have to agree. Good luck! Those phases can be brutal.

Mary B February 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Ever since YOU were little, I've thought that 3's were more terrible than 2's! Good for you for keeping you cool and showing him how to deal with things calmly (even though I'm sure he's not thinking that at the moment, your example seeps into his subconscious!). He'll learn these lessons and then be the sweetest little 4 year old the world has ever known. :)

Erica {let why lead} February 9, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Can't wait to read your similar post! Isn't commiserating helpful? :) May both of us get out of these phases quickly!

Erica {let why lead} February 9, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Thanks, Liz! Agreed!

Erica {let why lead} February 9, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Girl, that is impressive! I read that list to Ryan and we both had a good laugh. (I hope you don't mind!) Trenton never thinks to do much other than bang on the door and yell when he's stuck in his room, but I still find that almost unbearable. You are a super mom!

Erica {let why lead} February 9, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Ha! I can only remember throwing one "tantrum," and that was me crying in your room that I wanted Daddy. :)

It would be pretty impossible to beat the sweetness of the Babb kids!

Cate February 9, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Oh, I hear ya! I have two that will be 3 in a few weeks, and they are going through a phase where meltdowns are the norm. I don't remember it being this way with my oldest! Thank goodness I have the Lord to get me through these days… and I know sunnier ones are ahead.:)
cate @ wildruffle.com

Becky February 13, 2012 at 7:49 pm

I haven't quite gotten past that first line about the Park Day – as in, an outdoor park with trees? I'm jealous. There is no park play happening in February in Wisconsin. Sigh…

And yes, I found the terrible 2's were a myth. The joy really begins at age 3. Thanks for another laugh-out-loud post – yelling at you in his sleep?!

Erica {let why lead} February 13, 2012 at 9:03 pm

You're cute, Becky. I guess I really don't have much to complain about considering I've never actually been a mom in an area where it snows! Before we moved here to Northern CA we lived in Utah & Indiana for five years, but we didn't have kids yet. Moms in COLD places are amazing!

Becky February 13, 2012 at 10:32 pm

It's true. We really are amazing. Ha ha. :) And climbing up the walls!

Alaina February 14, 2012 at 3:12 am

I refrained from adding this because I was in a bummer mood when I first read, but now that my mood has improved and I still find it worth saying, I like the person who told me about the "F-ing Fours." Yes, this was true for me too. Ages 2 and 3 had occasional flare ups of issues, but it was the argumentative, independence-seeking mom-can't-do-anything-right, let's complain about everything fours that wore me down. (Independence is a GOOD thing, right!! Haha. I remind myself.)

Erica {let why lead} February 14, 2012 at 3:21 am

That's hilarious. Maybe every year just gets worse?? Haha

But you could be on to something, because T is already almost past that flare-up (knock on wood). Maybe they just come and go during age 3.

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