“Mom. Mom. Mom. Mommy. Mom. Mommy. Mommy. Mum.” It’s just like that famous clip from Family Guy, and it’s pushing me over the edge. We’ve just dropped off my preschooler and my 2-year-old is strapped securely into her car seat directly behind me. She is less than two feet away, kicking the back of my seat with her long toddler legs, determined to keep my full attention for the entire ride. She says my name upwards of 100 times in the nine-minute drive to our house. Sometimes I answer, sometimes I don’t, and it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference because either way, the never-ending peppering of my name through every waking hour of the day continues — and I am slowly losing my damn mind.
Because there is no amount of love or patience that could prepare someone for the loud, relentless, repetitive, one-word verbal demands of a tiny, knee-high human who smells like syrup and diaper cream. And I’m not sure there is a way out of the madness, other than just living through it. Because in my experience, even when I am fulfilling every need and meeting every demand, my name is still being called, as if at this point it’s just part of her breathing pattern. She currently says my name while she eats, while she plays, while she takes a bath, while she watches a show, and even while she poops — just standing there, diaper on, almost purple-faced, slowly uttering my name between pushes.
And I get frustrated. Typically after about the 19th time, I end up whipping around asking her, “whattttt?!?!” in an obviously irritated and unwelcoming tone. Sometimes it gets so bad I resort to a quick crying jag or a good scream into a pillow. I have even retreated into a closet in a one-sided game of hide and seek on occasion.
But then later, as I finally nestle into a spot on the couch after the kids are asleep, the guilt settles in. My mind begins to replay moments from the day and my internal critic starts her interrogation. Why weren’t you more patient? What kind of mother gets frustrated with a two year old for saying their name and wanting attention? Don’t you know how precious this life stage is, and how quickly it will be gone? You should be grateful!
But then, thankfully, logic kicks in. And I realize that I am not unappreciative or unkind. I am not even impatient. I am a human being; a mom who loves her children in the most intense way, but also has limits, gets overstimulated, and needs breaks. Parenting an energetic, demanding, verbal toddler all day is mentally and physically exhausting, and despite my periodic bouts of frustration, I think I am doing an okay job.
Samm is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.