“Three year-olds are tiny sociopaths with an excellent prognosis.”-Anonymous pediatrician
This morning my two and a half year-old son, Madden, threw a monumental tantrum because he simultaneously wanted to walk beside and ride in the wagon on our way to the park. This momentary conundrum sent him into a back arching, kicking and swinging tailspin. Thankfully, I was properly caffeinated and well enough rested to let him exorcise his demons out in peace on the safety of our sidewalk while my five year-old daughter obliviously sang along to the iPod. When the moment passed, we continued on our way where my sweet boy, full of belly laughs and curiosity, returned as if nothing had happened. Some may consider this victimization; I call it Thursday with a toddler.
The life of a two year-old (and five year-old for that matter) is full of such predicaments and polarities, but so is parenting. Raising children is this unique privilege we’re given where we are faced with difficult decisions almost daily. Where we as parents, scramble to find the delicate balance between holding our kids close in the arms of safety, yet not so close as to coddle them. Where we feel all the feelings acutely; relishing in our kids’ triumphs and wallowing in their sorrow. Where one moment your heart is so swollen with joy and the next you’re dreaming of a dark room and a cocktail (okay, that’s me).
In my five short years as a mother, I know virtually no more about raising them than I did when I brought my sweet bundle home from the hospital. I am evolving with them, learning their unique personalities and watching for their cues. Parenting has many facets to it and I’ve been many different versions of a parent. I have been the angst-ridden, sleep-deprived mom who thinks her newborn has whooping cough. I have been the ailing mom who lets her kids watch too much television while she rests. I have been the strict; eat all your vegetables mom. I have been the mom who loses her patience and shamefully asks for forgiveness. But, mostly, I try to be the grounded and consistent mother; a nurturing presence who provides a safe nest.
And I remind myself often that parenting is not a science; that perfection is unattainable. Rather it is a daily exercise in patience and the tireless practice of selflessness. It’s giving yourself plenty of grace and showing up even if you’re a little worse for wear. It’s a constant reminder of the greater good.
So, I will continue to drink in the moments when my daughter asks me to have a dance party with her and morning snuggles with my son because someday my ducklings will set off on their own journey. Someday, in the not so distant future, Adam and me will no longer be their center.
These hard years might just be the most challenging, repetitive and humbling years of my life, but they are no doubt the fullest. We should all be so lucky; so lucky to have so much to lose.