Amy Condon is a mum to 3 kids, who are all under 3! Yes, you heard us right. Each week she tells us all about the ups and downs of bringing up 3 children so close in age in her mummy blog. This week Amy talks abouther youngest who's hit the terrible twos early...
'‘I'll make up a song for you,' said T.
‘No. I don't want a song,' huffed G.
T (singing): ‘Minnie Mouse, la la la, in the clubhouse, la la, underpants...'
G (very annoyed): ‘No! Don't sing! Don't sing!'
‘Minnie Mouse, underpants....'
‘No! No! No!'
And so began my day. This was the (increasingly loud) conversation which drifted over the baby monitor at 7.03am. It was by no means unusual. As far as I can tell, T's sole purpose in life is to wind up her sister. G's seems to be to over-react to it. And they're not even my biggest problem.
My adorable little M seems to have hit the terrible twos 4 months ahead of schedule. If one of her sisters gets too close to the toy she's playing with, she shrieks the most ear-splitting shriek she can muster. If that doesn't work, the tears begin. Flailing, rolling, wailing, begging... She's a demon. She was such a good baby. A great sleeper, smiley from the start, a dream feeder... I should have seen this coming. They do say, good baby, troublesome toddler, don't they? G and T were a case in point.
T, the smaller twin, only 5lb 4oz at birth, was the fussiest feeder from the off. While G seemed to grasp latching on instantly, T fiddled about, sucking and grumbling in equal measure. I tried as much as possible to tandem feed the girls, for fear I'd otherwise be unable to leave the sofa, but it wasn't easy. G would cling on, suckling away for dear life, as her milk source flailed around while I attached T time and again. In the end, I only managed a month of breastfeeding them, which I felt guilty about for a long time. Now, I realise switching to bottles has done them no harm, but it still niggles that M got so much more from me.
G was also the better sleeper. Almost too much so. I remember having a baby development book constantly to hand, so the second she woke, I could try to stimulate her brain. I constantly worried that while she slept, T would be leaving her behind. Again, as with so many of my first-time-mum fears, this turned out to be ridiculous. Both twins hit all their milestones way ahead of time, and even though T crawled and walked earlier, G was the first to talk and count. In the end, I relaxed and enjoyed the fact that while T had to be trained with night after endless night of gradual withdrawal and hours spent by her cot refusing to pick her up, G simply started getting irritated by falling asleep in our arms, and trained herself.
Always the quieter sister, I did have to deal with G's major stranger anxiety phase at about 9 months, when she would burst into tears if anyone other than her mummy and daddy so much as smiled at her. But as she clung to me, only feeling safe held tight in my arms, it only made me melt with love. Spirited little T had no such fears, and as soon as she learned to walk at 11 months, she was off... after dogs, looking for sticks, towards the swings... I spent more time that I can even count chasing after her while G waited where she was told.
In short, although I loved my girls each as deeply as the other, G was the easy one. Until she hit 18 months. Then all I could do was take cover. The tantrums. Oh the tantrums. When G was displeased, the whole of London knew about it. It began one day when she flipped out because she didn't want to get in her highchair. Screaming and shrieking, she ran frantically round the flat, hitting walls and throwing toys. Nothing would calm her. In the end, I put T in her highchair, shut the living room door and let her sister blow off steam in the hallway. She did eventually calm down, but it had begun. For about a month, the meltdowns were at least a daily occurrence. Always about control. With her developing language and sense of self, she clearly thought she should now be in charge. Everyone assured me it was totally normal. My parents, trying to contain their laughter, assured me it was karma. My own toddler tantrums remain family lore. My mother just used to make sure I was somewhere safe and leave me to it. So that's all I could do. Eventually, the tantrums came less and less. Although G is still more than capable of a ground-shaker these days, that nightmare month is a distant memory. Or at least it was. Until now.
M was a wonderful baby. With just 1 infant on my hands, everything seemed easier second time around. She slept well, despite her sisters' constant laughs and shouts and cries. She latched on for a feed within minutes of being born and never looked back. I fed her easily for 8 months, and only gave up then because she'd lost interest in me due to her love of every single food she tried. She had only the briefest of separation anxiety phases, always melting strangers' hearts with a smile. She walked at just 10 months, started talking not long after, and although she shares T's penchant for chasing animals, she'd come back when called or led by one of her sisters. She was a dream. Was.
It started a couple of weeks ago. Like her mother before her, M does not like to be tired. I wrote off the first couple of meltdowns as all the girls had been poorly. All kids get a bit stressed when they've been sick, don't they? Only now, the illness has gone. The tantrums haven't. In the 2 hours we spent in the garden this morning before the twins headed to nursery, M pulled the heads off 10 poppies, bit T twice, had a screeching meltdown over who got to sit where on the picnic mat, and shut G's finger in the sunroom door. Whenever I catch her and tell her off, she either sobs uncontrollably at the injustice, or flails out of my arms, contorting herself wildly, not giving a second thought to how it might feel if she hit the ground. She won't share food or toys or space or her parents. When she runs these days, she doesn't look back, making a trip to the corner shop almost impossible, and she's loud. Oh so very loud.
In short, just like G before her, my angel has become a monster.
All I can do now is cling on to whatever sanity I can muster, and hope that the drama eases. That month with tearaway toddler G was one of the worst of my life, but it was only a month. You can survive anything for a month, can't you? Just 4 weeks, and this should all have passed. I believe that. I have to believe that. Dream baby, nightmare toddler... In my family at least, this old wives' tale turns out to be exhaustingly, painfully true.'
Have you found the saying 'dream baby, nightmare toddler' to be true? Tell us about your experiences in our comments section below.
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