Butting heads (and breaking my heart)

My relationship with my three-year-old is pretty strained these days.

Littleman is a good kid. He’s happy, smart and funny. When you first meet him, he’s very shy. But once he gets comfortable, he’s your best friend. He’s sensitive and cares about people. Other parents have described him as kind.

But he’s also 3. He is strong-willed and impatient. He’s testing boundaries and attempting to do things on his own.

Lately, I’ve been having a tough time with him. Even when I’m trying to do something fun with him, he always pushes. Always fights me.

On the other hand, he is a perfect angel when he spends time with my parents. He’s great with my husband. It breaks my heart that they can have such fun with him while my time with him is a constant battle.

In the past few weeks, I’ve tried extra-hard to be more patient and to nag him less. I know it’s been an adjustment for him since his baby brother arrived five months ago, so I’m trying to do some fun things with him. But it doesn’t seem to matter. Even if we spend a whole day doing things that revolve around him (going to the park, eating a picnic in the backyard, jumping through the sprinkler), we still end up butting heads. Why?

My husband recently said something that just made it all hurt even more. “Why don’t you try just playing with him instead is nagging him?”

I know that’s what it looks like to everyone else, but they don’t see the whole picture. Still, those words stung.

I’m stuck in a hard place. I’d love to take my older son for some one-on-one time. There are so many things I’d like to do with him. But I’m also exclusively breastfeeding an infant who won’t take a bottle. When the baby needs something, most of the time I’m the only one who can respond.

So of course Littleman is going to prefer the time he spends with his dad or his grandparents. They’re the ones who can focus solely on him.

We do have some good moments, which I savour as much as I can. I love my kids so much and want them to be happy.

I know my situation is not unique. Moms everywhere deal with this when their second (or more) babies come along. And I know this won’t last forever. Soon enough, the baby will get older and won’t be so reliant on mommy. But knowing all of that doesn’t make my heart hurt any less.

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5 thoughts on “Butting heads (and breaking my heart)

  1. That’s tough. I’m sorry! Are any of the things you’re “nagging” him about things your husband could address with him so you’re not always the “bad guy”?
    Since your baby won’t take a bottle, have you tried cup feeding? I know it sometimes works with babies his age.
    Some of this, I’m sure, is just your older son learning how to share his parents and how to be a brother. It’s tough, but you’ll all be OK. 🙂

    • Thanks. My husband does do some of the disciplining and I’m noticing that my son responds better when it comes from him. I seem to always have to ask him things 10 times (which ends up turning into nagging). Am hoping this us just a crappy phase that we will outgrow soon!

      And, yes, we are working on the sippy cup with the baby. No success yet but we’re trying!

  2. I could have written all of this! I’m having the same issue with my 2.5yo. My husband has used the “He’s two” phrase with me and I can’t stand it. He isn’t home with a constant whining/fighting toddler and a baby who needs attention.

    My heart hurts too. You aren’t alone!

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