June 25, 2013

on toddler parenting...

I've decided that toddler parenting is my jam. I think this has been the easiest part for me so far, when it comes to motherhood.

It may be because I grew up around toddlers, so they simply don't intimidate me—if anything, it's a ridiculous amount of fun (on a good day, mind you). My mom did daycare for a few children when I was school-age, so I was able to have a lot of interaction with little ones from a young age. I always absolutely adored kids. And my parents did foster care for infants when I was a teenager, so I have vivid memories of my youngest sisters (both were adopted as infants) when they were Eisley's age. I sometimes catch myself calling Eisley by one younger sister's name, and I think it's because I remember her so clearly at this age…and it's always an odd moment when I'm like, "Oh, wait. This one's mine. How weird is this?"

I sometimes refer to Eisley as my "sidekick" and that's really the only way to put it. She may make things difficult and complicated and slightly overwhelming at times (not to mention I am unable to run even the shortest errand without bringing a veritable Mary Poppins bag of miscellany), but she also makes everything so much more fun. Pure and simple. I think that's why when I'm away from her for even a few hours, I start to get all emotional and discombobulated. I feel like I'm missing something—only instead of searching frantically for my purse or sunglasses or phone, it's this tiny person I'm missing. The one who has become such an integral part of my every day. And it's just unfamiliar when she's not there.

Yes, she's my favorite.

When I went to give her dinner last night, she had the best reaction. Sometimes I let her stand on a chair at the kitchen counter to eat a meal, just because it's a bit of a novelty to her (and also because it means one less wipe-down of the high chair, to be completely honest). I handed her a plate of blueberries, corn, and cut-up ravioli, and she looked at it with her eyes all wide. She let out a huge breath, saying, "Ohhhhh! Day-doo, mommy!" ("Day-too" is Eisley's version of "thank you.") Her reaction to a tiny plate of ravioli was so full of pure, unadulterated joy that it made me want to simultaneously laugh and burst into tears.

Her enthusiasm is one of my favorite things in the world.

I love that she loves reading, coloring books, dressing up, eating green beans from the can, having dance parties to country music, watering our porch flowers, doing silly clapping games. There is no limit to what will make her over-the-moon. Several weeks ago, I was lugging a huge basket of laundry out to the car, and she was following behind me, clapping and bobbing along like it was the best day of her life. A neighbor was sitting on her porch, and called out, "I don't think I've ever seen someone so excited for laundry day!"

And it's true. She gets excited for everything. Like, walking to the recycling bin or unloading groceries. It's a little weird sometimes. Weird, but refreshing. Just being around that kind of energy is kind of contagious.

We definitely have rough days, and there are many tantrums, and when she sleeps past 7AM it feels like a moment worthy of confetti, cupcakes, and celebration. But I feel like I've found my parenting groove as she gets closer and closer to two-years-old. We have a good routine, I feel confident in most things, she is old enough to hold full-on conversations with, and understands so much of what goes on around her.

There are some ways she manages to surprise me, too. I've always found it a mystery why anyone would even want to try to sit through a church service with a toddler, but we have made it three weeks straight without having to put Eisley in the nursery. (Which is nice for Jay and I, because our nursery doesn't have an attendant and one of us always has to go in there with Eisley.) We keep her busy with coloring books, Wheat Thins and a felt book that has pockets filled with cut-out animals. She does so well, Jay and I periodically give each other one of those, "Is this real life?" looks. Every now and again the congregation will hear a faint, "A-min!" from the back of the church after the pastor is done reciting part of the service, and it always makes my day.

Of course, there is a lot more to worry about, now that she's getting older. I think more about the habits I'm creating and enforcing. I worry more about her running out the front door if we forget to close the screen all the way. I worry about teaching manners, teaching right and wrong, teaching her shapes and colors and the alphabet, teaching her about God. I worry about keeping her safe and disciplining her the right way.

But mostly, I'm just relishing this tiny window of time when she's old enough to do so many independent things, but also young enough that she still needs me so incredibly much. In so many ways, it's the best of both worlds. I know the older she gets, the more I'm going to miss these days. As exhausting as they can be, they really are the best.

13 comments :

  1. I love this perspective, and your honesty. As my baby is morphing into a toddler right before my eyes, I'm looking forward to a lot of these experiences with him. Thanks for sharing, friend!

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  2. I don't have children yet but I loved this post. Seems the older she gets (yes you'll miss her younger years) but you'll also evolve with her and appreciate the homework or the soccer practice :) so sweet!!! I feel like so many toddler moms get baby fever in my area. Hence the huge belts.

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  3. How beautiful. I wish we could put this post on the airwaves to reach all of those toddler parents who do nothing but complain about their little ones!

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  4. i know very much how you feel. sort of wish i could freeze time lately.

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  5. I am far from being a parent, but love seeing this through your eyes. What a wonderful post. :)

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  6. I love your posts. PLEASE let me know if you're going to do another Eisley Necklace (lime green) any time soon!!!!

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  7. Yes, all of this. The toddler years have been a revelation, realizing that I do not dislike or suck at parenting. Babies aren't my favorite, but toddlers absolutely are, tantrums and all. (Now that my son is three, though, that's a whole other story. Oy.) I tell my son he's my favorite every day. "Good night, my favorite. I love you." I think of him as my sidekick, too. It's a wonderful age, for sure.

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  8. Thank you so much for this! Your post is really beautiful! It reminded me of the years when my kids were just toddlers. This is really true! When your kids get older and older, the more you'll miss their younger years. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. Precious reflection. I can see you reading this on her sixteenth birthday. ;)

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  10. I like this so much. These times are the best :)

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  11. Just want to freeze time with my 19month old son right now. Things are just the best :)

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  12. Whata good attitude you have! My 3 1/2 year old is about to WEAR. ME. OUT. I know a lot of it is me stressing/overreacting about stuff because I keep thinking: How am I going to deal with these shenanigans AND a new baby???? But I guess I'll figure it out one way or another. I hope!

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  13. I love how you embrace the toddler years! Stressful as they might be sometimes... I also remember when my niece was almost two and how much fun she was to be around. Just so joyous and happy and excited all the time.

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