Remembering the Toddler Inside Your Growing Child
For a long while, I lamented over not having a fourth child. My husband and I love children and love being parents. So that transitional period where a couple decides whether to have more children was a trying one. But one specific thought that ultimately made our decision so much clearer was this: each stage of child’s development is important, parenthood doesn’t stop when they reach a certain age. You are always helping, growing, changing as a family and, through it all, they need your help in different ways. After I understood that and realized where we were as a family, I knew we were complete.
As my three boys grow, I know they are experiencing the world differently, and they are curious and inquisitive about all things. Other times, they are emotional roller-coasters, both individually and together as a band of three. It all depends on the day. In those moments when the poop is hitting the fan and it seems there is no way on earth to get us back to that calm state of happy, I try to remember that inside my growing boys, there is still a toddler. It may sound silly and downright impossible to do, but it’s helping me in the craziest moments.
It’s not easy growing up – I’ve heard that from two of my three children so far. That and “I don’t want to grow up”. And there is a part of me that would love to yell out “Me, too!”, but I help them with their feelings instead of thinking of mine.
There are lots of ways in which my children are teaching me important lessons each day, despite not having even graduated elementary school yet! Tell me if any of these teachable moments sound familiar.
My children teach me to lighten up
You know those moments where you catch your child off-guard? They might be flailing their arms around while dancing randomly or humming a tune as they eat, or even belting out a song at the top of their lungs for no reason at all. That is pure, uninterrupted joy. There’s no one to say “stop doing that”; no one to say this is unacceptable in society and to get a grip. And guess what happens as we grow up? We search for that again. We try to find it in drinks on the weekend as we throw away our inhibitions, or we find it in wilder activities like skydiving or bungee jumping. But what if we never lost it? How would that feel on a daily basis? Letting loose is something I love doing with my boys, and it’s freeing for me, too.
My children teach me to laugh
That belly laugh, oh boy! Do you remember when you would laugh so hard your stomach muscles hurt and tears would roll down your eyes? Can you remember that feeling? Has it been too long? Stick around kids and watch how it can happen from seemingly nothing that funny – and try to get there with them. It’s awesome at any age.
My children teach me to enjoy the weather
This might sound strange, but let me explain. Look around an office setting or a room full of adults at any type of gathering and I can guarantee you will have at least one person bring up the weather and at least one person complain about it. It’s that adult small talk we accumulate that creates our dislike for the weather if it rains, if it’s cold, if it’s hot… but not kids! They are perfect examples of enjoying life no matter the weather. In fact, the only time I’ve heard my boys complain is when adults (i.e. school) has not permitted them to go out and play when it’s pouring rain or -30 degrees. Imagine if we didn’t care and just went outside?
My children teach me feelings
You know how I mentioned the toddler in the growing child? This is when I see it – when they have a tantrum or break down about something banal. We are taught as we grow that all that needs to stop, and we need to get control of those emotions. But what if we just sat in our feelings for a moment longer than zero minutes? What if we acknowledged our dislike or frustration for something in a hot minute and accepted it? I think having a moment or two like that is better than bottling it all inside. I am trying really hard to catch myself before immediately telling my boys to cool down. I always learn something in those moments about them, if I give them a chance to have the feeling and then talk about it.
My children teach me pride
Somewhere, somehow, we tend to forget how fantastic we are. I sometimes hear my boys say how they weren’t good enough at something and I always remind them how awesome they are. I don’t want that internal voice to be louder than their great accomplishments and abilities. But as children looking at their parent, they surprise me. My internal dialogue must be too negative because there are things I do that I don’t even consider great. I cook and bake, I write stories, I draw, I carve a silly pumpkin and more. And when my children are present, they are all praise. “Wow, mama! That is amazing! You are SO good at this! This is delicious… thank you!” I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel all those things internally on a regular basis. Their gratitude and praise are things that remind me to be kinder to myself – something all adults could use, I’m sure.
So, you see, when we decided to not have more children years ago, in order to help our three boys grow and learn and be inspired at each stage of life, we got the best surprise of all. Our developing, learning, growing children are teaching us as well. We are constantly inspired by them, and we are constantly learning from them and as a family. The bottom line is when you are present in the lives of children, they will give you so much more than you ever imagined possible. I’m so grateful to have three amazing teachers in my life.
Julia a.k.a. Mama MOE was a freelance fashion writer before she had three wonderful children (one plus twins). Her blog, Ask Mama MOE, is all about living a family-friendly life and ranges in topics. Always in a positive tone, Ask Mama MOE is a great place for some parenting humour, DIY crafts, recipes and some deep thoughts. Reviews and giveaways are also done on products Mama MOE herself would be proud to use in her home. Be sure to check out Mama MOE’s charity, Shopping From The Heart.