They get such a bad rap. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “terrible twos” and “terrible threes,” I probably wouldn’t have any issues paying for childcare. When I finally gave birth to my daughter, I remember unconsciously dreading the toddler days a little. After all, how could a new mother not, when we are constantly inundated with the message of BEWARE THE TODDLER! BEWARE THE MELTDOWNS! However, quickly adjusting to newborn life made me start counting down the days until I would have a full-grown toddler. The constant bottles, the crippling anxiety of not knowing what was wrong, the constant wake-ups…so many problems seemed to disappear when I thought of a tiny person using the English language, sleeping, and holding her own cups. And while it has brought its fair share of hardships, this stage has had so many fun moments.
I cannot scream this from my lungs loud enough! Never will I ever take for granted the privilege of knowing when my child is hungry, hurting, or needs a changed diaper. It is magical after living through the zombie phase of newborn/first-year life. As an anxious mama, nothing pained me more to have a crying baby, with no manual to guide me on what exactly she was needing. Oh boy, is she a talker now. Every day I am amazed by the words and concepts she learns, even when we start arguing. Our recent arguments include me trying to tell her when a helicopter is nearby, instead of an airplane, but she insists it is an airplane. Or when she argued with my husband that blueberries were black. I welcome the arguments, it is much more blissful than the ambiguous tears.
2. Discovering their personality
Is there anything more adorable than a two-year-old? Watching them trying to say words that are way too big, watching her running around like a crazy person, calling our house “Daddy’s house” (Child, my name is on the mortgage too!), it’s too much adorable-ness. They say you start seeing glimpses of their personality, including how they will be as an older child. If that is true at all, she’s going to be the coolest and silliest kid I know.
3. Day Maker
On that note of adorableness, I hate to admit it, but I can’t stay in a foul mood around this kid. The antics she gets up to, delivered with innocent affection, make it impossible to remain sulky, much to my husband’s delight. There is no staying in bad moods from a case of the Mondays when she’s involved.
4. It’s nice to have a helper
Okay, I may be using “helper” very generously. Sure, she can be a destroyer on most days, but I have currently accomplished convincing her that helping me with laundry is fun. (Fine, sometimes I may bribe her with a few m&m’s.) But it is a welcome new chapter to have someone who is not just trying to be part of the mess, but on most days will help clean it up. Typically, if I just start singing “Clean up, clean up”, she will robotically and automatically start helping me pick up. Thank you, daycare, for the indoctrination.
5. Undying Affection
Move over, husband. I thought I knew the definition of unconditional love, especially as a parent, but there is a love I’ve experienced from my child that I’ve never witnessed before. This innocent, forgiving, spontaneous mish-mashed ball of affection that I experience daily is indescribable. The first time that she kissed me on her own violation or said the words “I love you” first without me prodding is an experience all on its own.
Let’s cut that toddler some slack. You may have heard this already, but the reason for so many outbursts and tantrums is because they are learning their boundaries, and have a chaos of emotions storming their tiny little bodies. They’re learning how to manage them, and those emotions can escape out in the process. I know it’s tough; God knows I’ve lost my cool countless times. But remembering that they are acting on instinct, not because they are spoiled or need a firm hand, is helpful to offering kindness and helping them get through each emotional wave. And when they’re not, join me in soaking up all those toddler special moments.