Monday, April 25, 2011

I thought I was a baby person

But it turns out I think I am much more of a toddler person.

The other evening after my own kids were tucked in their cribs for the night, I went and visited a friend who has 9 week old twins. It was the first time since her babies had been born that we had been able to actually connect in person.

As I sat on her couch, each of us holding a snuggly babe, I listened to her talk about her days.

"It's so hard" she said.

"I know, I really do" I empathized.

I watched her as she stood up to rock and sway a suddenly very fussy babe while we chatted, and took note of the giant grey bags under her eyes.

The kindest and most helpful words I received when my babies were tiny was "you are doing a hard job", so I repeated them to her in person, as I had many times prior in text messages. I listened to her talk and tried to offer reassurance that it really does get easier.

I watched as her face made a quizzical expression as one of her tiny babies did something unpredictable, and she didn't know what it meant or what he wanted, or the best way to handle it.

And I smiled.

Oh how I remember those days.

Newborn babies are so precious, and I could marvel for hours at their tiny features. My heart melts as they curl into you and contented noises come from their adorable little mouths.

But they are So. Hard.

And while you will never hear me refer to raising two one-year-olds as easy, I will say it's a different kind of hard. Dare I say, a more manageable kind of hard. I am not naive enough to believe that rough patches aren't coming, as I know we have plenty of challenges and tough times ahead of us, (terrible two's x 2 anyone??) but I just find them simply more fun these days.

Sure, we're seeming tantrums as they are acutely aware of their desires and wants, and yet unable to have them met constantly. Sure I still have plenty of moments where I have no idea what to do...but as a whole, they just seem so much more knowable at this age. My babies were rarely - and I mean rarely - predictable as newborns. They didn't fall into a predictable schedule until they were almost 11 months old. And although we are still daily learning new things about them (which is not apt to stop anytime soon), we've learned a lot already. Like how Abbey gets hyper right before bed time, and that actually is a tired sign for her. Or how Luke truly prefers to put himself to sleep, and rocking him much before bedtime is not want works best.

I still have moments of extreme frustration where I want to pull my hair out. Like the other evening, when I had spent sweet forever making pizza from scratch (dough and sauce!) and even though they had inhaled it the last time, both of my darling offspring flat out refused to eat more than two bites on this night. Grrr.

I still find myself often wondering what is acceptable to expect out of a one year old.

Life today is not void of challenges as we help them understand their wants vs their needs, and as we gently help them realize they can not always get what they want (side note - am I the only one whose Dad sang that song to them while they whined for something they wanted as a child?). But overall I feel a little more sure of my footing, sure of the fact that we've spent their first year building a strong foundation of trust.

And honestly, they are wayyyy more fun now. They crack us up all the time. They have these budding personalities that have their challenges (oh boy do we have some stubborn children!) but also hilarious senses of humor. They'll duck down behind the coffee table and pop up with an excited roar in an attempt to surprise us.
They'll sing to themselves as they play.
They give unprompted affection.
They understand what "I'll be right back" means, and don't scream and cry when I step into another room. Huge.
They get so excited when they try and accomplish new things. They are so proud when we praise them for doing this.

They are awesome.

It turns out, I am much more of a toddler person. Who knew?


Lauren said...

I also find myself wondering what I should expect of a 1 year old. What is reasonable to expect from a 13 month old? I don't want to expect too much, but I don't want to expect too little and him end up being a brat because of it.

Aunt Carol said...

I'm glad toddlerhood is turning out to be something of a relief after infanthood. Enjoyed your posting a lot.

Heather said...

I totally get this. I am a swooner for newborns, too, but they are so, SO hard. (Can't imagine haveing two at once).

What I've learned is that each new stage brings along its own challenges. And each of my girls ahs been very different. But, I just cannot.get.enough of their sillies and the funny things they say and the way they make us laugh. Wouldn't trade it for anything.

One of the things I've been working at super hard is trying to enjoy the present more. The good and the bad. I know I will be sad when each stage is gone, so I wonder why I let myself get so caught up in frustration. It's a struggle for me.

But, I digress... you have two of the cutest toddlers EVER. I can't wait to hear what new things they are up to next. :)

Anonymous said...

Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy..
If you think the newborn stage was hard..just wait until they are 14!!!

Vanessa's Dad said...

I hope, like me, each stage/age is wonderful... even when... especially when, your kiddo's become parents; and you get to experience what I experience, grandkids, and the JOY of watching your kids as parents, parenting well. Unspeakable JOY.


Julia said...

Oh my! I completely agree! The baby stage was so.very.hard. It makes me tear up to just think about it. I wanted so very much to enjoy it, but that was hard, because all of it was

My mantra lately is "We can do hard things." I made a sign, and put it up in our house. Toddlers are far from easy. They get frustrated, I get frustrated. BUT--they can entertain themselves for a few moments. They don't cry as much. I feel a sense of release, because I don't feel like I have to be ever-present in order for them to be happy and content.

In another post you talked about giving yourself permission not to feel responsible for the way they react to things, or do certain things. So totally freeing! I've been trying to do that too. Mama-ing is hard enough without punishing ourselves for what may or may not be an issue with our children.

I don't know how anyone gets through parenting without prayer. I have learned so fully just how broken and helpless I am on my own. Pray.Pray.Pray. We can do hard things, Kendra! While totally, completely, and fully enjoying our toddlers, who can actually be okay for a moment while we go to the bathroom :)