I don't have 11 previous parenting lessons. I just like the number 12.
The past few weeks have been challenging around here. I know I'm not alone in this journey as moms post daily on twitter/facebook/their blogs about the trials of living with a two-year-old without completely losing one's grits. Some days begin amazing. Let's take Monday for instance. We woke up, ate breakfast, made an Advent wreath, wore big boy underwear and went the bathroom a few times and had no accidents (the toddler, not me. I've mastered that, thank you.), and had plans to drop off some dry cleaning and head to a friend's house for a play date. Little did I know that getting in the car seat would lead to a tantrum. I have no idea why I'd want this daily act to happen in a reasonable amount of time. Silly me.
I also didn't know W would put on an embarrassing display at said play date complete with toy throwing.
These moments leave me questioning, defeated, and wanting to wallow in feelings of parenting failure for the rest of the day.
Just when I'm ready to throw in the towel, the little fellow does something to warm my heart and make me smile that silly proud parent smile that seemingly can't be wiped off. (Well, until another one of those moments mentioned above.) This week's smile-maker appeared at the library's toddler time, a 35 minute period which I often dread as it involves holding my breath hoping that he will be interested enough in the stories, songs, puppet show, something!! and we can actually stay the entire time. Our little if-it-doesn't-involve-helicopters-or-trains-I'm-not-interested Sheriff plopped himself down by his friend in the front and participated! He sang the songs, did hand motions, and giddily exclaimed, "Time to read another book" before each new story about a bear, the weeks' theme. (Side note--It's December. Surely we can focus on something besides bears right?)
He was pure joy to watch.
We made our craft, played on the computer for a few minutes, did NOT cry when computer time was over, and checked out books without a hitch. He held onto three fingers as we walked back to the car to head home for lunch, and I thought, "so this is why so many parents love toddler time."
Do I think that I have a toddler time convert on my hands? No. The thought is nice, but I'm not buying it just yet. While it was a raging success of a toddler morning, the afternoon brought tears and whining when something didn't quite go his way. Proud parental smile wiped clean.
I learned that morning to change my focus. The little toddlers, preschoolers, little people, are finding their way, and as parents we need to cherish the moments that work. Tantrums, spoiled plans, and other challenges will happen but they don't have to be expected, and they certainly don't have to define these years. I, for one, want him to remember his childhood as one with his parents' eyes full of love and pride instead of exasperation and doubt. For this is what these little gifts from above are meant.