I feel like we are escaping the challenging phase of having a 3 and 1 year old and are entering a new phase, which, so far, has been quite pleasant!
From the holidays, the start of the New Year and January through March, my children were giving me a run for my money.
As they are now 4 and almost 2, life has just been very fun and entertaining with them! The fact that I have a 4 and 2 year old is just surreal to me. It seems just last week this picture was taken as I held both of my girls, who were both just BABIES, together for the first time:
The age of four has brought some maturity to Little Bug, which is extremely welcome. Along with maturity has come an independence and not in the becoming-my-own-person kind of way, but in an able-to-do-more-on–her-own kind of way. Things I have done for her for four years now, she is now able to do on her own. Like put on her shoes. Do you know how helpful it is to have one child that can put her own shoes on?!
We don’t have a fenced in yard at this house so we go outside frequently to walk Pup, which means we put on shoes multiple times a day. It’s helpful that Little Bug can do more for herself these days. She cleans up her toys well (that is something I just figured out with her – post on that coming soon), can get her own snacks/drinks sometimes and we are starting to have more adult/child conversations instead of all toddler-talk. Some conversations are deep and others are just down-right hilarious. She has started telling me “I love you, Mommy” without me first saying, “I love you, Little Bug”. She tells me I am the best mommy. Tonight as I was tucking her in bed she said, “Mommy, let me tell you something.” She pulled my ear to her mouth and whispered, “You’re the best Mommy ever!!”. That is all so rewarding to a Mommy!
I’ve also in the past couple of months, noticed that Little Bug and Sweet Pea’s sister relationship is starting to blossom again. There was a phase (during this challenging past 6 months) where they were not meshing as I would hope and I knew it was developmental. Sweet Pea was just too “baby” for Little Bug. But Sweet Pea is growing up now at almost 2 years old. Her language is finally taking off and I know her maturity has brought both girls to a more equal level developmentally. I’ve noticed them playing well together basically since we moved.
People, I am not ashamed to say it: We are leaving the baby phase and it feels great. Don’t get me wrong, I love having babies (um, once they are 6 months old, hehe) but I can see FUN times ahead for my family as we enter the stage of having two preschoolers instead of a preschooler and toddler or toddler and baby. If you are in the toddler/baby phase and feel like you are just treading water trying to stay afloat, seriously, before you know it, they won’t be in the stage they are in now. Children do grow up; babies become toddlers and toddlers become preschoolers and with every age, there are positives and negatives to that stage. If something is driving you insane, hang on, it will change before you know it.
Summer is here and, compared to last summer, it is nice to be able to get out without worrying about getting the baby a morning nap so I don’t have a cranky, overtired baby on my hands! We are spending this summer doing fun activities, having play dates and going on trips and we are having such a wonderful summer!
I know we will have more “hard phases” with the girls. Everyone it seems always says, “Just wait until they are teenagers!”. I guess I have a different viewpoint on all that. Or maybe I am naïve.
I chose to believe this, however: I am working daily, while my children are so moldable, to train them in the ways of the Lord, so that when they are old they will not depart from it.
When I started teaching 4th grade ten years ago this fall (wow- I cannot believe my college graduation was 10 years ago), I received excellent counsel from my friend and mentor, Angele, who told me, “Spend the first 6 weeks of the school year just teaching rituals and routines to your class and the rest of the school year will go SO much smoother.”
She was absolutely correct and every year I spent the first 6 weeks of school teaching my students how I expected them to do certain things (like line up – yes, that has to be taught and even in the 4th grade!!) and how I expected them to behave. Because of my HARD work those first six weeks of school, I wasn’t still dealing with a class at Christmastime that took 15 minutes just to line up to go anywhere.
No, we practiced how to line up multiple times in those first 6 weeks (and beyond whenever needed), which made lining up something we didn’t have to worry about come October. All the kids knew what was expected of them, they knew the consequences if they chose to not line up correctly, and they just lined up when I simply said, “Let’s line up to go to the library.” Within 5 minutes, the whole class was lined up and out the door.
So, what does this have to do with parenting my children? I am doing the HARD work now, when my children are young, to mold and shape their little hearts to desire to please the Lord and live their lives for Him. By the time they are teenagers, it is my hope and prayer that their hearts will belong to the Lord and they will chose to continue to honor the Lord by continuing to obey and honor their parents as they have been taught since birth.
I try to remember this on the difficult days and the challenging phases when I wonder how I will ever survive raising a strong-willed child. Keep on keeping on. That’s how.
My work is hard now, but prayerfully I will reap eternal results of my labor when my daughters are grown.