Defeated By Three: Confessions of A Toddler Mammy

I am officially done with toddlerdom. Finito. Dunzo. The fact that the child has a while left to go doesn’t matter, I am at the stage of needing to check out. He’s three, and I can take no more.

(Hey, this blog isn’t called Naturally-Excellent-Mammy now is it?)

Defeated By Three

Three is slowly but surely killing me. I thought we were past the bad stages. He has all his teeth, all his (mandatory) vaccines (I’m choosing to blank out the fact that he’s getting two more before our holiday in September). He’s walking and talking and even sleeping. Sleeping! How could things possibly be going wrong?

I thought the newborn days were the hard bit. To me, it was a struggle. I wanted so much to be that kind of mother that motherhood came naturally to – you know the ones, where everything is a joy. Even the hard bits. Sure, the postnatal depression played it’s role in messing that one up, but even that has been tamed for the most part. The sleep deprivation, the failed breastfeeding, the crying baby who can’t communicate what is wrong. These are all things that have faded into the past. So much so that a new one isn’t seeming like a scary idea. Until I think of adding a new level of hell onto the situation before me, in which case, thank you very much, one and done.

I feel like I’m being overly dramatic but god, three is awful. Everyone talks about two. The Terrible Twos. Two was a DODDLE, Three is the spawn of Satan. He has a lot of emotions. And not very much clue what to do with them. There are arguments over colours of spoons, and over getting what he has asked for, because he’s changed his mind and not told me.

He’s also a whole lot more comfortable with his mobility. He has absolutely no fear. It’s been wonderful watching him grow in confidence as he goes out into the world. That is, until he decides he’s invincible and darting out into the road is the BEST. IDEA. EVER.

I am exhausted. I am frustrated. Feeling like this shit of a parent is something that I thought was behind me. It’s as if I don’t make a sound when I speak, such is his level of paying attention. Unless there’s food in it for him, he doesn’t give a damn.

He’s not a bad kid. He’s just my kid, inhabited by some poltergeist evil thing for the majority of his waking hours spent in my presence. He’s not like this for other people, and that’s the killer. It’s wonderful to hear that my child is well behaved. It really is. He gets along with other children, he participates, he says please and thank you. There are even occasions where he tidies up the messes he makes. It is hearing things like “He’s not like that here”, or “He’s always doing what I tell him” when I mention days where I’m fit to run away that kills me.

I’m aware of all the tropes that children act like this where they are comfortable. He knows my love is unconditional. There’s a level of comfort with my affection that he knows he can test the boundaries. That knowledge doesn’t make it any easier. I hate being bad cop all of the time. I hate being the one who has to rein him in, tell him off, stop him doing what he wants. This isn’t the parent I saw myself being. That said, I don’t know what kind of parent I saw myself being.

I just saw this as being easier. This is the bit that’s meant to be fun. It being a battle where I’m not armed for the fight is not what I was prepared for at all.

He’s currently snoring next to me, on the sofa, because I’ve given in and let him fall asleep there. I’m operating on a state of “this is what works without cracking up” parenting. It’s not perfect, and likely will fall under a column where someone can tell me it’s a rod I’m making for my own back. But save handing him back to the midwives (I’m pretty sure that return policy is invalid), it’s the best I can do right now.

I don’t mean to whinge. I know there are so many less fortunate that I am. My son is healthy, well fed, has a roof over his head. We’re privileged in so many ways. That doesn’t make the toddler days any easier to deal with, does it? I’m aware of the bigger picture, I am. I’m hopeful that these days will end any day now and I’ll get that fun, talkative personality who doesn’t throw himself to the floor over getting the wrong episode of Transformers. Is that so much to ask?


Hiding from the tiny tyrant and checking my Facebook.



  1. I found three really tough. And it was double three – so…. yeah… I remember close to their third birthday thinking ‘wow, two wasn’t terrible at all. We must be exceptional parents of exceptional children!’ and then literally hours later they transformed into crazy threenagers!

    I look back on the baby days as being easy now (although it definitely wasn’t when I was doing it) but it’s all about the emotional stuff from age three onwards and dealing with that is waaay tougher than dealing with dirty nappies!

    Best of luck getting through it. They do get a little bit more rational as they get bigger… a little bit…

    1. Oh god, I can’t imagine two of them, you superhero! Nappies are definitely easier than the emotional stuff! Thanks for commenting. Hope yours have hit a much easier age now!

  2. Three was diabolical – not least for the hours and hours of screaming night terrors. BUT – four has been so great. Not without its challenges, but the best yet. Cx

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