Unexplained tantrums, horseplay, potty accidents, refusing to eat, difficulties listening and following directions is the reality of rearing a toddler. This is a known fact to parents with toddlers. However, there is an interesting characteristic I have noticed from some parents with children who have left their “nest” during my adventures in motherhood. I like to refer to it as :: parental amnesia. It’s a phenomenon that has me leaving speechless at times and scratching my head while doubting my instincts.
So, how would you …
… respond when hearing a stranger and others you know well starting a sentence along the lines of, “Well, my child never ….” fill in the blank?
… as a parent respond when reprimanded with similar statements from even strangers in the grocery line when their toddler reaches for a brightly colored bag of candy? (Thank you grocery marketing team.)
… react when a distant, or not so distant, family member calls out your toddler for being fussy during their nap hour? (But what they don’t realize is that you have arranged your young and growing family’s schedule to appease theirs because of a sense of obligations.)
… counter an older parent that looks at their own offspring and comments under their breath, “You never did that,” followed by the very noticeable eye and head jerk?
… respond if a seasoned parent pointed out that their child slept through the night at only a couple of weeks old, and your nine month old is still waking up every five hours? (At a couple of weeks old, really?!)
I think it’s tough being a kid sometimes.
Yes, sharing toys might be one of their biggest daily struggles, but they deserve some credit. Their bodies are changing and growing daily. Every day is a new awakening and they are learning, absorbing and processing the new things they have learned that day. They struggle with cause and effect, and to be honest, I know many adults still struggling with this concept. Understanding and following directions and complying with “no” is a hard theory. Minus the hormones, you essentially have a teenager that you can still pick up. So imagine what it is like for the parent who sounds like a broken record or is exhausted reiterating the concepts above with their child while juggling the unpredictable circumstances that is life, family and work when they hear statements like the above examples.
The reason for this phenomenon
So why do so many older parents forget the lows of the toddler years? Why do their children seem perfect in a sense and free of flaws? Is it like other life experiences and relationships in which we remember mostly the good times as a physiological means to deal with the stress of tantrums and rebellion to keep a positive memory? Sometimes, even I forget past tantrums and toddler stages that have tried my patience. So, what will I remember about these years 10, 20, or even 30 years from now? Perhaps decades from now, the only recollection I will have of my children’s infant and toddler years will be of tea parties, bed time snuggles, and happy family movie nights. Only time will tell. In the meantime, I have captured some of these low moments on video that I plan to watch once my own children become parents themselves so I can remind myself of the downs of the toddler years.
But, in the interim and in this stage of motherhood, I will not negate the downs, and let’s not forget the highs, of our children’s first few years of life. So, toddler parents unite and treat one another with empathy because, who knows, we too one day might suffer and be diagnosed by our own children with parental amnesia.