Dear Avery,
My degree is not in early childhood, it's in English, and these days my limitations for parenting a three year old are very clear, making me tired (oh so bone tired) at the end of the day. They say motherhood is about choosing your battles. The following are battles I haven't chosen that are starting to deteriorate my sanity.

You are a geologic force who loves moving stuff. You could win trophies for rearranging our world into little packages and piles, filling suitcases and purses and bags and baskets with collections of objects that all belong elsewhere. You aren't happy until all the toys from the toy closet are taken out. You feel completely entitled to have access to everything, and objects disappear from places they once were only to reappear in arrangements like the one seen above. I say, "Girlie, it's time to set some limits relating to stuff."

Let's talk about my closet. Yes, the closet in your room has my things in it, and that probably isn't fair to put it in there and then ask you to leave it alone. Still, that doesn’t mean those are your things to play with. The things in my closet need to stay in my closet.

The things in my bedside table drawer also need to stay in my drawer. My alarm clock and book light need to be there for me to use. When I can’t find them I feel frustrated. The linens, blankets, etc. should be found in the linen closet. I’m the one who has to fold them up and put them away if they are taken out. Great great grandma's desk in the hallway is also off limits. The chair is too old and fragile to be used as a throne.

If you want to bring things into the bike trailer or car, then you must bring them back out. You may bring enough things to fit into your small backpack.

Another battle we seem to have regularly that I'm so done with is shoes. When you wear shoes in the car, keep them on your feet until we get back home. Do not take them off before we are there and then take them off again before we get home. Please don't leave them in the car and walk inside barefoot. Speaking of the car, when we get in, help me out a little, instead of getting rigid and impossible so I can’t fasten your seatbelt around you. I know you're supposed to be exerting some independence but does the independence you demand have to be in all caps and boldface type with many exclamation points following it?

Given your fiercely independent status, I guess it's very normal that you are hard pressed to listen to anything your mother asks of you. An example: today I said you couldn't use a permanent marker, but you continued to reach for it. Eventually mommy flipped her lid. When we were on the steps together taking a break to calm down, you chose to headbutt me several times in the face. Later, we had another run-in. Don't think I will respond positively if you call me "Stupid mommy" and then ask me to do something for you. And this seems to be another common pattern in our day: if you've just woken up and you need something, tell me in a regular voice, don’t communicate every single desire in a whine.

Despite my complaints about your behavior, I realize that most of our problems have to do with me and my response. You are just three after all and each of the above behaviors, however trying, is NORMAL. I will be consistent. I will speak to you calmly. I will stop giving my attention to the cotton picking computer, (which even I resent for its magnetic force) and start investing time in teaching you the behaviors I want you to exhibit. I will strive to give you more opportunities for independence, because I believe that is what you need. I will say what I say and mean it. I will spend time with you and strengthen our connection.

All I know is, when I look in the mirror I see a very aged stranger looking sadly back at me, so something must change, for both our sakes.

I love you and want to be the best parent I can be.


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