Hold on, mamas of toddlers. Hold onto your toddler and enjoy the days of innocence. Treasure the dirty hands and wet kisses. Camp in the land of scribbled drawings and teachable moments. Love those little ones hard… while they let you.
It’s gonna get harder. And, your love will hurt.
I’m a mother of two teens. Recently, my teenage son said something like, “It’s time to cut the cord, mom.” I felt horrified. I’ve been holding onto that cord, metaphorically, even though it was snipped, physically, the day he left my womb.
The cord cutting isn’t limited to my son. My daughter is easily embarrassed by me in public now. She corrects me. And, tries to help me be more cool.
What is it about our kids growing up that hurts a mom? I mean we want them to grow up healthy and strong. We work for it. We pray for it. But, when the days of independence come hard and fast, many mamas are left bewildered and bemoaning the precious moments that quickly pass. Many mamas would pay good money to return to just one more day of “look at me, Mommy.” Or, one more gleeful hug when she picks her child up from a play date. Or, just one more long, bedtime snuggle. Yep… those were the days. And, they ARE the days for you, mothers of toddlers.
Here are 5 Life Tips from a mom whose farther down the trail… having left the land of toddlers and entered rocky teen terrain:
- Unless your toddler is in jail, his or her “issues” are probably less serious than they will be when he or she is 17. Enjoy that.
- Seek out teachable moments, so you can pass along the habits of forgiveness, generosity, kindness and service while your kids are young. So, they get many years of practice. Examples BELOW.
- If they like to hug, hug for a long time. Soak it in. Hold onto the sweet scent of a toddler hug…. for the hard days.
- Forfeit time at work or social functions to spend time with your “littles” instead.
- Pray with your little ones at a time in their lives when they’re most open to a generous and loving God.
Examples of Teachable Moments:
- Tell your child when you find out a neighbor or friend is suffering and ask your child what they can give or do to serve that person.
- When your child is angry with a friend, teacher or coach, help your child recall something they’ve said or done wrong and remind them how God promises to forgive them, as they forgive others.
- When your child is in elementary school, challenge him/her to find a student in the lunchroom (or on the playground) whose alone and invite that student to join his/her friend group. You can be creative with this idea if you home school.
Love these teachable moments, even when there are tantrums. And potty training. And biting siblings. And fevers in the night. And… those dreaded car seats. Enjoy the moments when their demands seem almost overwhelming, but they need you so much. Cherish the innocence and love that comes naturally to a toddler.
One day you will have teens. There are some great rewards in teen-dom. Your hugs may manifest as confidence on their first job. Your teachable moments will bear out the first time you witness your teen help a little, old lady with her groceries. You’ll be able to have rich conversations that don’t involve naming their latest stuffed animal. You’ll get to plan and prod about what they’re going to DO in the world to make it better…. how they’re going to take your loving training to the next level. And, you’ll laugh at their humor because it’s actually funny.
But, you will see them less. You won’t hug them as often. You will feel less necessary in their lives. The innocence has receded. The teaching is close to an end. They will walk away… and make their way… in a world that often doesn’t include you.
If all goes well… they’ll come back sometimes or often. For advice. For encouragement. For a hug from mom. And, finally, they’ll bring you new babies and toddlers to hold onto… for as long as you can.