I should preface this by saying how much I love my daughter. Like crazy. Unconditionally and unequivocally. To the moon and back, if you will. However, she is well into her second year of life, which can only mean one terrifying thing; she is no longer a baby, she is a toddler. While the toddler years bring many new and exciting moments and milestones, they also bring a lot of tears and frustration – for the child and the parents. Hence, my new mantra: embrace the toddler.
I repeat it over in my head, mutter it under my breath, and sometimes even shout it out loud in desperation, countless times throughout the day. Why “embrace the toddler”? Well, because if I don’t, I might just lose my mind. Let’s face the facts about toddlers for a second; they’re messy, emotionally unstable, and they alternate between moving too fast or ridiculously slow. But we love them, right? To me, embracing the toddler means finding the good in what I normally consider the bad. Here’s how I’m embracing my toddler and her crazy ways…
Learning to love the journey: Getting anywhere with a toddler is a process. Once you’ve managed to coerce unwilling feet into shoes and get them out the door, they’re ready to stop and smell the roses. Literally. My daughter can turn a five-minute walk to the park into an hour-long adventure. A quick trip to the grocery store into a full afternoon spent roaming each aisle at a snail’s pace. Instead of rushing to move things along, I’m having fun watching her find wonder in things I usually pass by without a second glance.
Riding the emotional rollercoaster: Toddlers have high highs, low lows, and oh so many feelings. I’ve watched my daughter giggle uncontrollably at my not very funny jokes, get furious with our dog for stealing her cookie (after she shoved it in his mouth), and cry the saddest tears when her stuffed fox fell off the bed. And it’s amazing. Toddlers experience their emotions completely and without shame, whereas us grownups do our best to keep them under control – especially in public. I admire my daughter for wearing her heart on her sleeve, and I’m doing my best to do the same.
Let the cleanliness of my home slide: Keeping an organized and tidy house with a toddler running loose is a challenge to say the least. I’m constantly tripping over stuffed animals, wiping up spilled drinks, and finding crayon doodles in places you wouldn’t believe. But sometimes having fun is messy. My daughter is too busy moving from one activity to the next to worry about cleaning up, and maybe I should be too. If letting a few dishes sit in the sink overnight means time for one more bedtime story, or an impromptu dance party, so be it.
And so, I pass my mantra on to you. It doesn’t erase the tears, heal the scraped knees, or vacuum the house, but it keeps me going. Embrace the toddler!