Your toddler doesn’t care if you’re on your period, and here’s why you shouldn’t either.

toddler doesn't careOf all the character traits that don’t serve me well as a parent, my reluctance to take myself less seriously is probably the worst.

I had had a pretty crappy day. I overslept a few minutes, I ran into traffic on my way to work, and within an hour, I could tell that it was going to take every fiber of my being to keep from mentally punching everyone I encountered in the face. I was already behind on my work for the day and the emails asking me to do things that weren’t in my job description were coming in faster than I could respond with a bold-italicized HALE NO. We’re all entitled to a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day every once in awhile, but it was like the world was just laughing at me by scheduling mine on a Monday. Way to be creative, World.

To add insult to injury, about halfway through the morning I realized I was also on my period. Of course. All my monthly ecoutrements were *gasp* in my car, which was parked across the street from my office, which meant that I would have to get up and trudge the 0.00002 miles across the road on an unseasonably warm and sunny January day to fetch inexpensive, quality-of-life-improving sanitary napkins that didn’t even exist beyond a state of processed wood chips until about a hundred years ago. Sometimes life is really hard. I got up, took the trek to my car that made the Trail of Tears look like a Fourth of July parade, and luxuriated in my ennui for the rest of the day at work.

Of course, I’m joking now, but that day at work, I was completely convinced that the slurry of First World problem-y events I was experiencing were my ticket to just retreating into myself and taking myself and all the stupid minutiae I experience daily completely seriously. As much as I struggle with my self-confidence and self-esteem, I really.freaking.love.myself when it comes to throwing major pity parties.

Remember those parties that Puff Daddy used to throw in the late-90’s where everyone in attendance was required to wear white and bring a kangaroo on a leash and know all the lyrics to “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria” just in case Diddy wanted to quiz you on the spot? That’s basically me with my pity parties. We throw down, yo.

And the thing is? Many adults will completely let you get away with that crap. Diddy wants you to bring 37.9 popcorn-flavored Jelly Bellies to his party? Well, yeah, you’re going to do it. Emily wants you to take a moment of silence because she’s having a somewhat offputting day? Let’s all bow our heads together.

Self-absorption. I’m guilty of it, and chances are you’re guilty of it too, to some degree at least. I cannot strain myself to truly empathize when I see a friend or family member struggling to get through a moment of sadness or difficulty, but when I’m having (what I perceive to be) a bad day, I refuse to take it with a grain of salt and just laugh at a., myself, and b., the world around me.

Withholding empathy is not a good problem to have when you are, y’know, a member of the human race and all. But it’s especially not-so-great when you are also the parent of a toddler. There are two reasons for this. One, it’s kinda-sorta your duty to show them how to be good people, and the best way to do this is through example. I never, ever want to be one of those do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do types, but I often am, and that is decidedly not great.

Secondly, and this is a bit more pragmatic, it’s not a fantastic idea to expect your toddler to bend to your self-serving whims because, um, she’s a toddler. Even the most miraculously selfless three-year-old on the planet is incapable of actually caring when you’re on your period or whatever. They simply are not built for it. Toddlers are self-centered because they need to be.

I, on the other hand, have no developmental excuse for breaking out the tiny violin whenever something mildly sad-facey happens. There is always someone who is having a worse day (or week, or month, or year) than me, and if I want to be a really good human for myself and for my child, it’s my responsibility to let that insight color everything I do.

On their deathbed, no one has ever said, “Wow, I really wish I had indulged myself more sulky afternoons and taught my kids to complain about stuff that doesn’t really matter.” No one has ever said, “I’m really glad I cancelled all my plans and shut myself in a dark room because I got my period.”

We can all do to take ourselves less seriously. Our toddlers don’t care when we get our periods, and maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t either.

36 comments

  1. Hey Em! I try not to sulk during those times of the month, but, but…you know how I feel? It’s true, toddlers are self-centered because they need to be. So loved that! You’re right. We should just take a deep breath and enjoy the sunshine or the clouds or whatever the case may be.

    1. Thanks, Amy. Those clouds and that sunshine is underrated. I like ’em :D

  2. Well said! It’s hard, isn’t it? Knowing just when to put on or take off the SadLegs. Because it could always be worse. But it could always be better.

    1. Word. It can *always* be worse.

  3. I don’t want to bump into someone having a worst day than me because I don’t want to deal with their madness. A toddler I can deal with

    1. Very true. With toddlers, you can at least just put them to bed. It might be kind of awkward if you forced a grumpy 42-year-old coworker to take a nap.

  4. Strangely…I just can’t identify with this at all.

    1. I can’t imagine why….

  5. Love it :) Cracked me up so much you did :) And on my period too – gold!

    1. We’re all synced up!

  6. Moms don’t get vacation days!

  7. Yes, you are a mother! You are like a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week nurse in a critical care unit and sometimes you are bleeding. You are wonderful, brilliant and clear, I might add.

    1. Can I hire you to be my best friend? ;)

  8. You do self-deprecating masterfully, Emily.

    I’m taking notes.

    1. Awww, thanks. It comes pretty naturally ;)

  9. LOL..next time I get my (painful) periods, am going to see it in a different light..;)

    1. Good idea. Whenever I get my period I’m just excited that I’m not preggo.

  10. Reblogged this on onestressedoutmama and commented:
    She’s great & very honest. I can think many people can relate!

    1. Thank you for sharing it! :D

  11. Per.fec.tion. I loved reading every bit of this. And all of us need this reminder…all of us.

    Oh, and “ennui” parry in the house! I might just have to try to use it in my next post. Maybe we could start an “ennui revolution”…or whatever. I don’t really care if we do.

    1. That was ennui PARTY. Ugh. Why do I ever leave comments while on my phone?

    2. Ennui is waaaaaay underrated. And ennui parties? OMG.

  12. So true. Then a magical thing happens; your baby girls turn into teenagers. Although they generally don’t want to have anything to do with you, they DO care if you’re on your period, because now they can feel your pain – literally. Because since you all live in the same house, your bodies sync so you’re ALL on your periods at the same time (it’s a lunar thing.) The Sisterhood of the Curse bonds you together at those times and you sit around eating Moose Tracks ice cream in your jammies, watching “You’ve Got Mail,” crying when Meg Ryan loses her shop, and yelling at your husband/father “You just don’t underSTAND!”

    Good times.

    1. It sounds like you’ve been there ;)

  13. LivingsTheDream · · Reply

    Wait under your toddler grows up, starts her periods at age 10, in sync with yours. Then you’ll know a bad day ;0)

  14. Oh, yeah? You think periods now are bad? Just wait until pre-menopause strikes. You’ll discover a whole new level of murderous being in that sweet self. ;) Welcome to MY world. (Tiny violins cannot be overrated!)

    1. I’m totally with you, Judah. There have been times over recent menopausal years when I’ve had to put my head down and just breathe. Ibuprofen cannot this heal.

      Sorry to go off topic, Em. This is wonderfully written, as always. And there’s nothing wrong with indulging in the occasional self-pity party as long as the toddler isn’t looking.

  15. Whenever I start to have a bad day, I know it is just the beginning of a downward spiral. I totally get what your saying and have definitely have had more than my own fair share of pity parties. I always try to keep in mind that things could be worse……”try” being the operative word ;)

  16. You had me at “monthly ecoutrements” & secured the deal when I saw the word ennui. Love your writing! I don’t have kids yet but this post is truth.

    1. Hey, thanks! Those are literally the *only* impressive words I know, so I should probably get in good and cozy with my dictionary.

  17. Periods, a very important subject. I am out of the toddler faze now and have grown up children. You think your toddler doesn’t care, wait until your teenage daughters don’t care. Cherish what you have with that little bundle of fun while you can. And you are right, definitely take yourself less seriously.
    I have just found your blog through a friend of mine. Love it.
    Sarah

    1. Thank you, Sarah. I shudder to think what we have coming wen the teenage years approach. I’ve heard before that the child you have at 2 is the child you have at 16. If that’s true (and I have no reason to believe it isn’t) then we’re in for a doozy.

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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