“You, you’re driving me CRAZY…even though I’m CRAZY for you!”

I remember watching “Lamb Chop’s Play Along”with Shari Lewis as a kid; I think it was mainly when one of my little sisters had it on the TV.  There was one song she would sing that I thought was hilarious at the time, because it was often how I felt about said sisters:  “You, you’re driving me crazy…even though I’m crazy for you!”  was the main chorus line.

Years later, this song takes on new meaning as it epitomizes how I sometimes feel as I navigate toddler hood with my little girl.

I am the mother of a 21 month old daughter, V.  I love my daughter, more than my life.  I can’t imagine what I wouldn’t do for her. I think she is the funniest, most adorable little person and I feel enormously proud of her smarts and her sweet, loving nature.  But there are times, especially since she turned about 15-18 months old, that I feel worn out, impatient, and exasperated by my lovely gal’s totally normal, completely developmental, but utterly exhausting toddler antics.  All you parents of toddlers know what I am talking about:  the tantrums, the clingy days, the whiny moments when our eyes temporarily trick us into thinking our darling child has been replaced by a miniature gremlin in a cuter costume.

My most recent exhausted mommy moment was this past week, when I sat on my daughter’s bedroom floor holding her writhing in my lap (she would not be cuddled nor put down), as she screamed for about 20 minutes because she did not want to change her poopy Pull-Up.  She wanted to go eat.  I did not want to smell poo during our lunch, nor did I want her sensitive bummy to develop a rash.  So, it had to happen.  But V made sure it was on her own terms, as she proceeded to resist the change, and scream and kick and cry.  And, I had the flu.  The achy, can’t barely stand up, dizzy, feel like you’ve been beaten type of flu.  She cried.  I held her, arms limp at my sides or stroking her sweaty, matted hair.  I sang her favorite song until she started yelling, “no, no” through the indistinct shrieks.  Then I cried too.  I waited, increasingly anxious for the sound of my husband’s car pulling into the garage, as he was coming home early to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.  Boy was he in for a treat.  But the minutes ticked by and it became clear I had to face this little monster myself.  So I wiped my face, nursed V until she was sufficiently calm, then finally settled her, still wriggling her poopy butt all over the changing mat, enough to complete her Pull-Up change.

This is an example of the behavior that has been blowing my mind over the past couple of months.  So, I guess I’ve gotten into the habit of letting V know.  Because last week, when she was starting an irritating whining routine as her lunch wasn’t coming fast enough for her liking, I made a goofy exasperated sound….”aaaaah!”  She, turned from the table, giggled, and said “Craze, craze.”  Yep, she was imitating me saying…”You’re driving me crazy!”  I inquired if this was what she was saying to me; she laughed again, and indicated with a nod (like duh, mom!), yes, that was exactly what she meant.

Enter Massive Mommy Guilt.  My child has come to expect that I’m going to tell her she is driving me crazy.  Whoa.

While I want to make sure I have a handle on my emotions as I deal with my daughter’s discipline, and clearly, I need to perhaps re-think the frequency of my expressions of frustration, I wonder…is communicating frustration to your child a bad thing?  If done in a non-intimidating way?  When I say, “You’re Driving Me Crazy!”, it is generally in a sing-song kind of voice that my daughter seems to find amusing.  Yet, she obviously is getting the point that some of her behavior might not be socially appealing or acceptable. Isn’t it my role to teach her that?  Where is the boundary between getting a handle on your emotions while still letting enough of them filter in your tone of voice to drive home the point that certain behavior is frustrating and unacceptable?

I think the reaction of your kid plays a big part in determining this boundary.  Some super-sensitive kids cringe at a hint of negative feedback, while others just roll with it.  I absolutely don’t want my child to feel intimidated.  I don’t think that is an issue for us, though.  V is a pretty secure kid, and I try to be an in-control kind of mom.  My own little gal is a loving, affectionate kiddo, but she is strong-willed and adept at ignoring that which she doesn’t want to listen to.  So we use time-outs when needed, give positive feedback for good behavior, and sometimes, we even raise our voices a little to get her attention.

I know I can at times be impatient, hostile sounding, argumentative, and irritable with those I am close to.  My hope was to keep these traits out of my verbal (we do not choose to use physical discipline with V) discipline with my daughter.  I know sometimes I fail to contain these tendencies, and I have the guilt to prove it.  But I do my best to keep my emotions in check while I am teaching my daughter what behavior is positive and what is unacceptable behavior in our household. What this one moment has illustrated for me is that I may not always be aware of all of the things I do or say that my daughter internalizes.  I hope that throughout her life though, she’ll trust me enough, feel secure enough to laugh at me when I’m exasperated, and let me know that I’ve made my point.  I’m sure someday, I’ll hear the same words lobbied back at me (because I’ve taught her to say them!)  “You’re Driving Me CRAZY, Mom!”

Linking up with Shell at “Things I Can’t Say” for  Pour Your Heart Out Wednesdays.

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18 responses to ““You, you’re driving me CRAZY…even though I’m CRAZY for you!”

  • Tara R.

    That V responded to ‘craze’ with humor (giggling), doesn’t seem that she is the least bit traumatized. This could just be your code with her that you’re not happy with her behavior. Sounds better than both of you getting to the point of being upset.

    • pmlevitt

      I like the idea of a ‘code.’ Makes me feel a bit better about it…I felt like I was being too hard on her too often for her to have internalized it, but it’s a learning thing for both she and I, right?

  • MEL

    Being home so much with a little one is apt to eventually erode one’s nerves. Besides, it’s too cute to hear her say “craze” is too funny! And it’s simply a nice little reminder for perspective, right?

  • Brittney Mclain (@BrittneyMcLain)

    at that age its so hard not to get frustrated! I think you are doing a great job with expressing your emotions and discipline (from what ive gathered from this post) I dont think she is taking it in a negative way.. she may even like the way you say it (ya know in the sing song voice) she may think you are playing.

    • pmlevitt

      Hi Brittney, Thanks for sharing and for the support! I try, but I am imperfect, as I’m learning all too well. She does seem to think it is goofy, which helps us both get some perspective!

  • Kristin @ What She Said

    All I can say is been there, done that. But then, you already knew that. 🙂

  • Anastasia

    It will all come back when she’s a teen, right? It’s hard when you’re frustrated. I taught my two year old “shit.” That’s way worse!

  • Shell Things (@shellthings)

    All kids this age drive their parents crazy. It’s okay to say it. 😉

  • Stacie

    So glad you visited, I really appreciate your response – so many parents with healthy children have no idea how to respond to my blog. Love how you shared this moment… you spoke for so many moms.

  • jdaniel4smom

    I find my tone and words being given back to me. It has been a good reminder of that what he hears he will say.

  • Cindyss

    Hi Pamela
    I just read this post too and wanted to comment that my boys are now 23 and 19. My oldest is what is known as a “spirited” child aka really challenging to raise. I was working when my kids were young and me and my coworkers took turns sharing stories about who did what to their kid that was going to put him or her into therapy for 10 years when s/he was older- joking of course because of the constant pressure to feel like we had to do everything “right”, maybe even more so because we were “working moms”.

    The thing is, my kids are grown up, they are not perfect but who is. They are good people, they are happy, they are kind, they are responsible and they will make a good life for themselves in this crazy world of ours and that’s really all that I could have asked for. When I have seen what other people have gone through with their kids or how they have fretted about the expectations they have had for them, I know that i am very lucky. As a family, we have had to weather some rocky seas so we are even all the more fortunate.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that you sound like you have a fantastic relationship with your daughter and you are giving her the most important stuff. Don’t expect to be perfect and you’ll do just fine. If you are honest with her, she’ll respect you and if you are there for her, she’ll forgive you.
    Happy mothering!

    • Pamela

      Thanks for sharing your experiences and support! Months later, V now tells me occasionally that I’m driving her crazy, but it’s a good opener for conversation. I’m kinda glad she has words to let me know! I’m learning to let go of some of the mom guilt with more time parenting under my belt, but it’s an ongoing process…analyzing and worrying and wanting to do right by your children. Thanks for reading and sharing!

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