Two-year-olds can seriously be the worst. Right?! They’re demanding and don’t have reasoning skills yet and heaven help us all if they’re strong willed.
Once upon a time I had a two-year-old and a newborn and I was slowly but surely losing my mind. Then we discovered Daniel Tiger on PBS Kids and I watched Mom Tiger with her endless patience and kindness and I felt like the biggest failure, and the worst mom, in the whole wide world.
I was neither. I was, however, exceptionally hard on myself and insanely sleep deprived.
Then one day I was nursing the baby and my toddler was enjoying his Daniel Tiger time. The show drove my spouse mad, and he often said he didn’t know how I put up with it, but I grew up on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and nostalgia fortified my annoyed-at-kid’s-television reserves.
All of the sudden, I heard Mom Tiger say something that kind of changed my life:
“I am so MAD.”
Whoa. Perfect Mama Tiger said what? My head snapped up from the book I was reading while nursing. Had I heard that right? Then she sings the calm-down song. Of course she does. But Mom Tiger just got mad at Daniel for making a mess!
I immediately felt this weight release from my chest.
It’s okay to feel human emotions, even when you’re a mom.
NO ONE is actually perfect.
I shouldn’t be comparing myself to a fictional character.
I know it sounds silly now, but in the throes of two-under-three, in a new city, where I didn’t know anyone, I was terribly lonely. I didn’t have any mom friends nearby, and so I had no one to tell me I was holding myself to an impossible standard. I didn’t just compare my parenting to Mom Tiger’s and fall short; I compared my parenting to everyone’s because I had no idea what I was doing. I read the books and the blogs and observed people in public and watched Daniel Tiger. But Mom Tiger’s mad moment snapped me out of my fog and brought me back to reality.
Something else happened in Mom Tiger’s mad moment. I realized I needed to own my feelings, so my kids could learn to own their feelings. So instead of seething angrily and then hiding in the bathroom feeling guilty about being mad at my kid, I could label it. I can say, “I’m mad. This is why. I’m going to sing a silly song to help me refocus and calm down.” Now I’ve been doing it for years, and it helps my kids understand more complex emotions, which helps them recenter when they’re upset.
PBS Kids is apparently aiming for the kid audience and the parent audience. They know we’re watching, too. They’re teaching kids that everyone, even their own parents, has feelings they have to work to control. They teach appropriate ways to react.
Want to see Mom Tiger’s Mad moment for yourself? PBS Kids has the clip available here.