adventures in toddlerhood


right around when august turned one, i was told by other parents that we were in for the greatest year ahead - that magical age between babyhood and the "terrible twos". he'll become more independent, he'll be able to communicate better, his personality will start to show. you get to keep the cuddliness of a baby without the tantrums of a toddler, the best of both worlds. 

caring for a baby suited me surprisingly well though. it was extremely exhausting, but formulaic. yes, there are thousands of equations and it took some [at times, frustrating] trial and error to figure out the one that worked for us, but the variables remained constant: feed, sleep, change. i work well with quantifiable processes like that. so nurturing, as it turns out, came naturally to me. parenting is a whole other deal. parenting, as it turns out, is less instinctive. 

toddlers are much more abstract than babies, they have a completely different measuring system. instead of mapping out feedings and naps or counting ounces and diapers, i'm relying on being dogpiled at the door when i come home, or a fit of bubbling laughter, or a breathless request ayane! (translation: again) for another game of chase, or a chubby finger that correctly points at a new word he's learned. it's WONDERFUL. and so much more ambiguous than the baby stage. at its best, it's deeply gratifying, at its worst, it's completely demoralizing, and if i'm being honest, i feel a little challenged by toddlerhood.

the past week has been an adventure in toddlerhood. i am putting full blame on daylight savings (and maybe last night's full moon), but there were more than a couple of times this week that had me throwing my head back to ask the havens "who is this child?" it's been a week of feelings and we've been going through ALL of them in a matter of seconds. i am just not that quick on the uptake. i've never been good on my toes, so mostly i just feel like i've been falling flat on my face a lot. 

august is becoming a person and while a lot of what kind of person he becomes rests on my shoulders, i've also realized that a lot of it is already built in him. the other day i watched as he played independently, his own thoughts and imagination just pouring out of him. he was yammering on about something or another in a goofy voice that made me wonder where did you learn that? i didn't teach you that and i know you didn't get it from your father and it was then that it occurred to me that it wasn't the influence of anyone, it was 100% pure august. 

he is curious and smart, affectionate and sweet, defiant and bold, perceptive and clever, attentive and silly. for that - ALL of that - i am proud. it's stressful and terrifying, this parenting thing. now is when the real work starts and lately, i've been questioning whether i'm doing it right, but then there are those moments - those long signature toddler hugs, complete with pats on the back (100% pure august right there) - when i get my reassurance.  


Ursula said...

that picture is amazing! It looks like a caption should be added saying "hard day at the office?". I can't imagine parenting but I do suspect it's exactly as you described, not instinctive but fun and crazy at the same time. I love seeing my nieces in their 2 and 3s because you're right, they have little personalities. It's like meeting the real them and it's so fun.

Erin said...

That picture might be one of my favorite things, ever. His expression is priceless, and the exhaustion is understandable. It's hard being little! It sounds like he is just such a cool little dude, though. I never really thought about it, but I would have assumed kids come out with personality quirks predetermined with all the traits of their parents. But of course they develop their own! Ha, I'm taking this lightbulb moment and mentally pinning it for when I have my own kiddo. I can only hope he's as delightful and that I'm as delighted as you are by August! xo

Christine D. | The Plumed Nest said...

i was just reading this article the other night where moms complained about how exhausting and soul crushing being a mom to toddlers can be. and i thought 'i never feel that way!' (in my defense the views in the article were pretty extreme). but then i remembered that time when my kids were somewhere between 1 and 3 and i did have my moments of feeling broken down and simply EXHAUSTED. when bedtime couldn't come soon enough (is 5:30 too early??). i agree the infant stage was easy for me too - all they need is you and if you have a nurturing instinct it's fairly straight forward. but once they become more independent their wants and needs seem to be at constant odds. i think it's just an emotional time for mother and child (there's so much going on at this stage!). but i do think it kind of builds your strength for everything else to come. for me at least, everything since then has felt much easier! and of course all those rewarding moments at this age, oh my gosh, those are the absolute best. and i can testify that apparently, based on my first judgy thought when reading that article, the good memories are what stick with you. but, yeah, once i thought about it i remembered crying a couple times into my 4th hour of trying to get one of my boys to sleep!

ps. this picture is so stinking adorable and captures toddlerhood so perfectly!

lucinda said...

hahaha! yes, that would make a great poster with your caption.

lucinda said...

it *is* hard being little! i remind myself that whenever there's a disconnect in our communication - we take so much for granted as adults. that's one of the best things about having children of your own, they make you see the world in a whole new and beautiful way. xo

lucinda said...

oh i've had those "is 5:30 too early?" thoughts before, but like you said the challenges now just prepare you for more complicated ones down the road. communication is tricky and frustraiting for a toddler but how about for an emotional/hormonal teenager? the tough moments are fleeting and mostly i appreciate how august and i are growing together through all this - that little guy is teaching me all kinds of things!


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