“Fully appreciate the season [of motherhood] you are in.” If you are a fan of Joanna Gaines then I’m sure you’ve seen this article and/or video where she shares this quote, plus other words of encouragement for moms everywhere. These words are from a loving woman I admire [virtually] and that I can’t seem to get out of my mind since reading her statements. For those of you who don’t know, I’m in the THICK of mothering toddlers. And I’m about to welcome a baby to the crazy toddler chess game. Appreciating the season of mothering toddlers has weighed on my mind a lot recently, especially since Anthony has started walking and trying to keep up with everything and anything big brother Joey is doing. He’s also started doing the opposite of all Mom’s life-tips. Who would have guessed I’d have to teach my boys chasing cement trucks and cargo trucks in the street is NOT OK!
While I’m by no means an expert on mothering toddlers nor do I claim to be the most patient women in the world [that women IS the best toddler mom], I’ve reflected on a few lessons or learnings that have helped me appreciate the season of mothering my little monsters. Ok. Little opinionated, determined angels. That sounds more accurate, right? While I know each stage of motherhood offers challenges, ups and downs, and “wins,” toddlerhood has knocked me off my feet much more than infancy or babyhood had. I’m assuming the stakes keep raising as the kids get older.
How to Appreciate the Season of Mothering Toddlers
Embrace your role as mother duckling, and their role as the following “duck.” I couldn’t tell you the last time I showered by myself. Went to the bathroom without an entourage. Oh and enjoyed a meal without someone [aka my toddler] asking for a bite, even when we are all eating the same food. In fact, when Ted is home and I let him know I’m going to take a shower, somehow they all end up in the bathroom trying to talk to me! While my shadows or ducklings get on my nerves, I secretly LOVE hearing the sound of Joey’s feet running down the hall when he wakes up in the morning. I love that the first thing he wants to do is be with Mom and Dad. Now do I have this same love and affinity for that same behavior when he refuses to go to bed at 8pm?! Nope. Get to bed kiddo!
If the mess doesn’t bother you, leave it. If it does, then by all means do what makes YOU happy and clean it up! Look up toddler in the dictionary and mess is definitely part of the definition. And if you read any parenting article or book the advice is to just let the mess be. People tell me my house is spotless and that they don’t know how I keep it so clean with small children. Honestly, I’m not the person that can let it go. I’m THAT person that picks up everything in one room before moving on to the next. Why? It’s something I can control. I feel at peace when my home is in order. And I sleep better knowing I’m waking up to a clean house. Now this doesn’t mean my hardwood floors don’t have spilled milk stains or my towels and sheets get washed weekly. It just means I’m a great surface cleaner. And if you aren’t, I secretly wish I was more like you. Because I’d give myself an extra 30 minutes of sleep at night if I could just leave it!
Toddlers are emotional. Embrace the emotional rollercoaster and take a seat next to them! It’s pretty safe to say both of my toddlers demonstrate every emotion at least once a day. Instead of trying to control or change this about them, I’ve learned to let-it-go… and let my emotions go too! Last week I starting bawling at the park when Joey introduced himself to an older girl. The simple words of, “I’m Joey. This is NeNe [Anthony],” had me crying and hugging and kissing him in public. Twenty-five minutes later I had smoke blowing out of my ears because sweet Joey and little NeNe were playing pass with their grilled cheese at lunch. One hour later I was feeling anxious and worried because I noticed a bleeding bug bite on the back of Anthony’s head. This is just Mom’s behavior in less than 2 hours. Can you imagine what I’m like after 24 hours with them?! Don’t answer that question…. I’m not quite sure what the lesson my toddlers can learn from Mom imitating their behavior other than giving them the OK to be a little irrational at times, because let’s face it. It’s not easy being a parent. And it’s not easy being a toddler!
Say no once in awhile. NO is speaking your toddler’s language. And while yes, you likely say no to your toddler a lot, this one goes for those outside of the toddler age group. I’m slowly learning that every no I say, I am saying yes to something else [usually involving my family]. So while some weeks I feel like a loner because I don’t have much on the agenda with the kiddos or the blog, I’m actually reenergizing myself the the week or weeks ahead when I over-schedule and make us run from activity to play date to class.
Be yourself. That’s who your toddler loves. I’m sure I’ve referenced this in a blog post before, but I remember when Joey was born his pediatrician let me know that motherhood is often a season of comparison. And that just like there is no one like me or my husband, there is no one like my son. So if you think you should be doing more [i.e. more playgroups or classes with your toddler] or looking different [i.e. working out more, showered, makeup], or you guessed it, have that clean house, you know what? Your toddler doesn’t care. They only care about YOU. And who you are to them, not society.
Have I made you want to come babysit my toddlers yet and experience this all for yourself?! While toddlerhood can be one of the most frustrating, non-communicative times of parenting, it too like the other stages of life goes by too fast. So wipe those skinned knees, dry those tears of frustration, and give your little determined angel a hug. Because before you know it they’ll be out the door to kindergarten.