Dear Toddler,

I get it. You're two, You've figured out that you are your own person with the ability to make choices. You know what you like, you know what you don't like. Namely, you don't like being told what to do. Frankly, I don't like that either. I feel your pain.

But, here's the thing. Mommy is tired. Very, very tired. And to put it bluntly, I'm fairly certain you are to blame for at least a portion of this exhaustion.

I'd like to think that I'm an accommodating mother. I dutifully get up in the wee hours of the morning to bring you a sippy cup full of milk at your first request. I change your pull-up and let you pick out your clothes. I even let you put them on by yourself, as you make it very clear that my help is unwanted. I let you pick out which asinine children's show you want to watch, even though I'd rather watch "Bar Rescue" or "Hoarders." I drop what I'm doing to read you books or play with blocks as soon as you ask. I try to ensure that your meals are both nutritious and suited to your discerning palette. I don't even flinch when you insist on pouring your own bubbles into the bath and use up half a bottle in one sitting.

At night, I let you choose which one of your 12 toothbrushes you would like to use. I let you pick out your pajamas and then hold back a sigh as you shuck them a few minutes later, as you prefer to sleep in your pull-up. This, too, I understand, as I much prefer to sleep au naturale. Fine by me.

I give you all the cuddles you can handle as we prepare for sleep. We read your favorite books, sing your favorite songs. I answer your thousand silly questions before finally turning out the lights. I endure hours of struggle as you fight sleep with every ounce of energy you can muster.

I do all this without asking for anything in return, because I love you more than life itself.

However, there are some things you could do that would make my life--and by extension yours--a lot easier.

1. If you could refrain from running to me with handfuls of poop, that would be amazing. In fact, if you could keep your pull-up on until I have secured a new one and a package of wipes, that would be even better. If you could let me know that you need to poop and allow me to take you to the potty, I would be forever grateful. You see, I'm all about options. Any of these would be preferable to trying to clean fecal matter off of you, the carpets, and anything else you may have seen fit to touch after picking up a handful.

2. I would very much like it if you could remember that food belongs either on your plate or in your mouth. I spend a lot of time preparing your food and, let's get real here, feeding our family costs money. Money that we don't have an unlimited supply of. If you don't like something, leave it on your plate. I will throw it away after we have all filled our tummies. Additionally, there is the matter of clean-up. I know it's hard for you to imagine, but Mommy doesn't like touching cold noodles or any other bits of food.

3. Again, this one may shock you, but Mom and Dad have the final say on anything that happens in this house. I know you're only 2, but you totally understand what phrases like "go get a towel" mean. In fact, I have witnesses who can attest that you've followed directions like this in the past. When we ask you to do something DO IT. Likewise, if we tell you not to do something STOP DOING THAT THING. We don't like to be the bad guys. We don't like to yell, we don't like to give time-outs, and we certainly don't like it when we have to resort to swatting your little bottom. Help us out here.

4. Please keep in mind that hand-holding in public is not an option. You hold hands or you get carried/put in the cart. For the love of all that is holy, stop fighting this.

5. Again with the rules. If we say no more TV or anything of that sort, please find something else to do without a tantrum. We'll even help you find another activity. Think back for a minute: has yelling "No!", hitting, or any other tantrum-like activity ever changed our minds? It's unlikely to ever work. I believe the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. You don't want to be crazy now, do you?

6. If you have to stand on a chair, laundry basket, ride on toy, etc to reach something, that's probably a good indicator that it is something you shouldn't have. Nine times out of ten, if you put it out of reach it's because it has the potential to hurt you. Please trust that we are only denying you those shiny scissors because we love you.

7. "I want grandma" never solved anything. Please, stop saying it, as it makes me feel inadequate. It's not that I don't get it. I'm 28 years old and even though my grandmother has passed, I still feel like she's the answer to everything. Grandma's have a special way of taking care of any problem. They just know things that the rest of us don't. However, I can tell you from experience that as a child, if you tell your mom "I'll just ask grandma" and your mother actually has you call your grandma, they will side with your mom. They may do it in a nice way that makes you think that it was your decision to follow the rules, but they will do it nonetheless.

8. I know the phone is fascinating. It allows you to talk to people who aren't in the same room as you like some kind of magic pocket-box. However, trying to grab it from my hands when I'm on the phone to the gas company or yelling in my ear as I am talking to the doctor is not going to help you figure it out. Nor is it particularly helpful. If you see the phone pressed against my ear, please, find something to do in your room.

9. Speaking of your's a disaster. Now, I don't expect you to clean it up all on your own at this point, but I do expect you to leave your clothes in the drawers unless we are getting dressed and to refrain from pulling your bookshelves down. I'm not sure if we've explained this to you thoroughly, but it is entirely possible to take one toy out of the toy box without dumping the entire thing on the floor. Sounds crazy, but it's true. Try it sometime. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!

10. Give us more snuggles! I know you're busy. You've got cabinets to empty, make-up to smush into carpets, and crayons to snap in half. You have a good chunk of time blocked off for climbing furniture and jumping on beds. If you don't run laps through the house while shrieking hysterically for at least a few minutes a day, you may lose your mind. This is totally understandable, we've all got important work to do in our day-to-day lives. It would be nice, though, if you could pencil me and daddy in for some hugs and kisses throughout the day. Both of us love you so much that it defies all logic, it would be super-awesome if you could spare some time for us to bask in that love.

If you take the time to consider these proposals, I think you will find them to be extremely fair. Wouldn't it be nice to enjoy more time together when Mommy isn't pulling her hair out and acting like an all-around maniac? Can you imagine?

Please, take some time to think this over. As always, I am open to some negotiation. After all, I do want your childhood to be as pleasant as possible.

Love always,


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