Toddler Time & My Attitude of Gratitude

My goodness, toddlerhood is a trip, huh? It seems like it really happened all of a sudden in our house over the past week.

Our boy is challenging us, testing boundaries, and seeing how far he can go. He's learned how to get down off the couch and bed safely (actually, this a welcome skill considering he used to try to nose dive!) and he's repeating just about everything he can (going to have to really start censoring ourselves soon!). He's showing us that he is all boy. As much as I don't care for gender-specific stereotypes, he is really leaning totally into the typically masculine genre of interests. He's obsessed with trucks and his eyes go wide as he yells 'chuck!' as soon as he hears an engine coming down our street. He loves crawling around pushing a toy truck or rolling them down his little ramp. He gets a kick out of stacking blocks and then crashing into them. He's extremely physical and loves running, chasing, and especially hide and seek. The crazier, louder, and sillier you get the more enthusiastic are his squeals. On a calmer note, he does love to grab a book and snuggle up, but only for a page or two before he needs to run and pick a new one. We are soaking up all of this little personality as it emerges each day. 

Those are the FUN developments as of late. In addition to those delightful changes, he's also learned the word 'no' and how to use it (especially with a flash of a big smile). He reaches for things he knows he can't have, gets his fingers within an inch or two, and looks back at you and says 'no'. Usually he then proceeds to juuuust touch it a little bit. He's learned to put his sippy cup on the table instead of spiking it after every sip, but that's not happening with 100% compliance. Again, the water gets spiked and he flashes that smile! Sometimes his cheerios or whatever else he's eating gets thrown on the floor too. He's also been I think trying to adjust his nap schedule which has been making sleep time rather interesting (read: he thinks 5:00 am is an appropriate time to start the party!). 

All in all, I think he's a pretty typical one year old. The challenges of the newborn stage and the infant stage really didn't stress me as much as I feel now. Once we got through a month or two, I finally felt confident in keeping another human alive. But as they say, bigger kids bigger problems!

Lately the stressors include making sure he doesn't crash into something (at least fewer than 2 times a day), trying to teach him the right things and avoid creating a monster, somehow managing to get sunscreen on all the right places as he squirms away, and making sure he's giving the dog space, among other worries. 

It's been a long, fun, challenging 13 months together. You hear it all the time but it is so true that you have to try to soak up each stage as much as you can. Actually, in true I-have-a-toddler fashion, I started this post a week ago and just came back to finish it. In that time, we did manage to figure out the 5 am /nap issue and we're happily sleeping for 11 ish hours straight again. Thank goodness! While reflecting on this development the other day, my husband and I marveled at how we goes down for naps and bedtime without rocking and often without a bottle now. He even ASKS for naps now. I feel like I'm in a parallel universe suddenly!

I know that it was unpopular of us to keep rocking him to sleep and not attempt cry it out months ago but we just knew that it wouldn't be forever and those moments were fleeting. Now here we are trying to remember the last time we had to do it. 

Because we didn't know it would be the last time when it was happening. And there's the real heartbreak of parenthood. You never know when it's the last time.

I know that at some point, yes, he'll need a cuddle to fall asleep but it won't be our routine anymore. 

This realization was quite the wakeup call. We need those every so often. To remind us to slow down and take it all in. To do that silly thing where we so thankfully realize it's bedtime and tuck him in only to sit on the couch and look through pictures of him. 

The best way I've found to accomplish this is through gratitude. Which is easier said than done. One of our mantras that has gotten us through every phase has been, "this won't last forever". Sleep regression - won't last forever. Wobbly toddling (right past everything with a sharp corner)- won't last forever. Blow out diapers - won't last forever. 

And rather than praying for time to pass, I try to be thankful for extra snuggles and remember that right now he needs me in a way he never will again in his life. 

I'm learning that gratitude is a muscle and every time I change my tune and think about how grateful I am instead of how tired I may be, the muscle strengths. And the stronger that muscle gets the more I enjoy the moment. The more I'm not wishing time away, rather I'm more present and appreciative of what's happening right now. 

Motherhood has given me so many gifts. This is not to say that I haven't been outrageously exhausted, challenged to my core, and utterly confused and frustrated more than once in the last year. But I've always longed to be a more present person and nothing has encouraged me to truly commit to this more than becoming a mom. 

Chasing a toddler is tough... but he'll never be 13 months, 2 weeks, and 6 days old ever again. And so I'm learning to be grateful for these moments before they pass me by.