I was just sitting here reflecting on being a toddler mom and I have some thoughts of encouragement for those of you who are really deep in the pit right now. I just felt like someone out there might need to hear what I have to say, even though I’m not in this chapter any more for the time being. As a childhood trauma survivor who has now been a mother for nearly 7 years, I can honestly say that for me personally, toddler age was the hardest to cope with. I never could put a finger on why, until now.
Toddlers know no boundaries-
just like our abusers knew no limits.
They push us to our breaking point-
just like our abusers pushed.
They take, and take, and take without taking even a millisecond to think about how we feel-
Just like our abusers did.
They make us feel completely powerless-
Just like our abusers did.
It is their way, or a complete meltdown-
just like with our own abusive parent.
Of course, this is perfectly normal and expected development for the toddler. It’s NATURAL. They are not “bad”, for being completely normal and innocent babies with primal needs.. but it’s important that we correlate how similar behavior can and does cause a trauma response in us. If you stop and think about it, the real issue is just that a toxic parent has the emotionally maturity of a toddler. Reliving in this environment can trigger emotional flashbacks and take us right back to our own childhoods- if we don’t pay attention to our emotions, and why they exist.
We have also been convinced all of our lives, and by our own parents, that as children we were an inconvenience, a life ruiner, annoying, expensive, just flat out.. a regret. Our abusive parents told us that their lives ended the day that ours began. If you’re still in contact with your own toxic parent when you become a mother or father, they will echo these feelings, “Your life is over.” and, “HA! Time for revenge, you’re going to pay for your raising”. They will call this a joke, but make no mistake- they genuinely wish suffering on our parenting path. Their laughter is not from joking, it’s from finding joy in what they consider to be revenge. Sidenote: What paying for our raising? We raised ourselves. Anyway, this is the mindset of an emotionally immature parent. A healthy parent experiences the struggles of raising children in all of their exasperating glory, while simultaneously knowing, down in their bones, that their child is still the single greatest blessing of our lives. Can you even imagine telling your kid that you wished they were never born, or that they ruined your life? It’s absolutely absurd. I can not imagine regretting my child’s existence, and even harder to imagine- is making sure that they know it.
There were a lot of moments when my boy was a toddler that I wondered what I was doing so wrong, and if I was turning into my own mother. The thing is that the combination of sheer exhaustion and being thrown back into the environment of feeling completely helpless was actually triggering to me, and I didn’t put two and two together at the time. I just chalked it up to being every mom’s struggle bus.
It was so much deeper than that.
A MUCH more complex bus than that.
You are not turning into your parent.
You are turning into younger you who is being internally triggered by reliving the emotions that your own mother gave you. The chaos. The exhaustion. The never being able to win. The never feeling good enough. It’s a LOT to cope with when you were deeply hurt as a child.
Please take a second to pause and ground yourself, as many times a day as needed. Take a break, drink plenty of water.. and every time your toddler challenges your sanity, know that the act of you taking a deep breath and responding with nurturing love and patience is a BIG step in breaking the cycle… for both of you. It may not be one that society recognizes as the massive feat that it is.. but I know, and I see how hard you are fighting to give better than you were ever given. I hope you know that you’re succeeding- even when you don’t see it with your eyes.
You’re not failing, sweet and exhausted toddler mom. You are pushing through a daily, hourly, and sometimes minute to minute HARD trigger. You are an unsung hero, and I will sing for all of us.
The Whole Brained Child is aimed at teaching our children healthy communication and conflict resolution. What I found in reading it is that it also helped me, as an adult who never had anyone model these healthy solutions. This book really helped us learn together and connect in a way that I didn’t previously know how to initiate:
Click here to order The Whole Brained Child on Amazon
In my opinion my next recommendation, Parenting with PTSD is more like a Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul: Survivor Edition. This book hosts vulnerable and raw stories of parenting after trauma, from multiple writers. It also has a pretty neat breakdown of what exactly triggers are, and the different kinds of triggers that we experience. Two thumbs up from me if you’re seeking to feel just a little bit less alone in your personal parenting/healing journey:
Click here to order Parenting with PTSD on Amazon
The above links are affiliate’s for a couple of books that helped me through raising a toddler while healing myself: As an amazon associate, I do earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases. This percentage is paid by amazon for advertisement and does not affect your cost.