It was not in the master plan to be staring down the face of the big 4-0 while singing “let’s pee-pee on the potty” enthusiastically to a toddler. But you throw one passionate homecoming and one apparently defective IUD together… and voila! Hello, “advanced maternal age” pregnancy! Our surprise baby just turned two and I am in the throes of Sesame Street, Pull-Ups, sippy cups and tantrums on a daily basis. Occasionally the toddler has a tantrum too.
Life is rarely going to just follow some pre-determined path because that was the “plan”. You have simply got to learn to go with the flow; parenting AND military life have drilled that lesson into my head. And I have found, recently, that this tiny little human who is running down the hall at break-neck speed in footed PJ’s, has been teaching this not-so-spring chicken a few things that I don’t remember learning with my older daughter. That could be because I was younger and am now looking at things through a different lens, it could be that I have the worst memory ever, or it could be that my older daughter is now almost 13… and teenagers can make it challenging to recall all those cute little life lessons they taught you BEFORE they learned how to roll their eyes.
Either way, I have been learning a LOT lately. Certainly some of you have experienced similar lessons if you have been blessed with little ones. Follow me on Twitter or look for #ToddlerVille tweets and the fantastic craziness that is my life most days… and share your lessons learned in the comments below!
1) Laughter is the best medicine… so laugh!
I just don’t care who you are… you can NOT hear the full-blown belly laugh of a baby or toddler and NOT start smiling from ear to ear. There is just something so pure and innocent about that sound. My daughter can be having a meltdown over the tragic news that Mom is not going to allow her to stick her whole fist into a bowl of ketchup… and then we will make her laugh. All is forgotten. Until I won’t let her empty all the Ziploc bags into the trash can (her new favorite thing to do in the kitchen), meltdown ensues… but is quickly replaced by a giggle over a kissing Elmo doll. Which brings me to the next lesson…
2) Life is too short to be mad forever… so forgive!
Look. You can cry over spilt milk, or your Mom making you wear socks, or the fact that the theme song to Sofia the First just ended… but don’t harp on it forever. Because in just a minute, there might be bubbles. Or the 39th reading of Goodnight Moon for the day. Your sister might push you on the swings… and you wouldn’t want to miss out on that fun by being a grumpy butt all day long. Toddlers live in the moment… and they are much happier as a result.
3) Nothing is more important than human interaction… so connect!
Sure, my daughter will stare at an iPhone or computer. Shiny lights and cool sounds are attractive. But her face never lights up brighter than when her Dad tickles her, or when her sister sits in the floor and teaches her another new animal sound, or when Mommy sings her favorite song. She is a reminder to me that THINGS really don’t matter as much as we think they do. Time spent together, experiences, connections… that is the real treasure.
4) Sleep is too important to skip… so sleep!
When my daughter is tired, there is no pushing through. There is sleep or major meltdown, period. When I am exhausted I, just like so many parents juggling a million responsibilities, will push and push and push. Right past that meltdown to pure insanity. Not healthy. Get tired? Rest. Sleep. Do it now. Then wake up happy, refreshed and ready for finger painting!
5) Learning is fun… so learn!
It is a toddler’s job to learn. Every waking minute of every day is spent learning about shapes, colors, sights, smells… boundaries and expectations. Learning helps them to grow. As adults we sometimes forget that there is still so much for us to learn. We don’t have time to learn something new. We already know all that we need to know. But when we stop learning… we stop GROWING. And that can make for a very boring existence.
This list seems too short. My daughter is a tiny little thing but she is filled to the brim with lessons for Mommy. And we haven’t even touched on the many lessons my teenager (yes, eye rolls and all) teaches me as she grows into a beautiful young woman.
Laugh, Forgive, Connect, Sleep and Learn… those are the lessons she is teaching me today. What lessons are your little ones teaching you?