Several things have come up for me in the past few weeks around the structure of parenting and all the decisions - good and bad - that I make in a day. Things happen so instantly with a toddler (except getting out of the house); and emotions are often running high and incredibly close to the surface. With my responses and actions, I can make my boy happy in an instant, or mad, or sad, or tearful, or hyped up, or annoyed. And, so much of this I love and so much of this I hate. Honestly, it's a LOT of pressure to say and do all the right things all the damn time. And I both succeed and fail a million times a day.
I want to set him up to succeed in life, and you know, not get hit by a car before he gets the chance. And both of these require structure and discipline and engagement and lots and lots of love. He already exercises his right to decide his fate FAR more than I'm willing, or is safe, to let him. Because he is, after all, two. But that means I have to be the big scary loud bad guy at least once a day. My kid is smart and communicative, and stubborn. He tests me and my rather tired, short fuse at all the wrong moments. So sometimes, my reactions are that of a big jerk. I should be more patient and recognize his age, and I'm definitely trying to take a deep breath and decide better in the moment what actually needs to happen vs. what my instant reaction is. It's hard, just after those moments, to not feel horrible about myself and so sorry for my kid! Then there are times, like other night in the grocery store parking lot when he got away from me as I was juggling groceries and keys, etc., and almost ran in front of a moving car, when my reaction feels horrible but totally justified. And then the frequency of all these moments happening in the short awake time we have together, makes me often feel defeated.
Solo parenting has a lot to offer, but it's in time like these, when No One is there to take the pressure off being the ONLY decision maker, even a tiny bit, when I get a little envious of my partnered friends and family. Luckily, I have the power to also turn the moment around usually, and fairly quickly (remember the toddler rollercoaster I mentioned earlier?). And I think that there's also a lot to be said for the very clear guidelines made by one parent, in a home where there is no arguing or second guessing between parents. No way is perfect, but if my intentions are always solid and about what is best for my boy - and I find away to stay consistent - I'm hopeful my decisions are the right ones.