There is plenty of talk about how challenging the toddler years can be. From navigating the terrible twos to facing the force of nature that is the threenager, these tiny tyrants often drive parents to the brink of sanity with their shenanigans.
With three kids, my youngest at 3 years old, I must admit, the toddler years have never been my favorite. I struggle with the irrationality at this stage, the constant fits and tantrums. And yet, this time, it feels very different.
That's because this time is the last time, and it’s breaking my heart. Every day, I've found myself noticing all the little things that I’m going to miss: the sweet sound of a young voice putting mispronounced words together in a jumbled fashion, the way that my son’s little hand fits into mine, his angelic face as he sleeps and how he asks for me when I’m away.
I’ve also learned a thing or two from my youngest child and have realized that there are a lot of life lessons he can teach me, if I just pay attention.
1. Toddlers love fiercely
Toddlers do everything at a level 10, including doling out affection. My son hugs me so hard that I sometimes fall over, and he doesn't just give me one goodnight kiss—he will continually kiss me until I am forced to wave a white flag. He loves with intensity, and one day very soon, I know I am going to miss his boundless love desperately.
They are like sponges, soaking up the beauty and wonder all around us that we often take for granted.
2. Toddlers take their time
As adults, we are always rushing. Toddlers, on the other hand, take the time to smell the roses—literally. They want to study things up close, and they want to do everything "by myself!" It can be frustrating, like when you are running late and your child insists on buckling up his seat belt on his own (which can take forever), but there is something to be said for slowing things down once in a while.
3. Toddlers are passionate
Toddlers are inquisitive and endlessly curious about the world. They are like sponges, soaking up the beauty and wonder all around us that we often take for granted. Everything they do, they do with passion.
4. Toddlers are expressive and they always tell the truth
One thing you could never accuse a toddler of being is fake. Toddlers wear their emotions on their sleeve. You never have to try to guess where you stand with them because they will let you know and will never hold back. I am grateful that my son lets me know how he is feeling, because I know the moody teenager years (where I'm only likely to get one-word answers to my questions) are really not that far away.
5. Toddlers see everybody as a friend
Toddlers aren’t held back by any social stigmas. They have a natural confidence and hold no prejudice or insecurities. My son seeks out "friends" wherever he goes and isn’t shy about joining in on the fun. His mom, on the other hand, is an introvert who has to admit, there's a lot that I'm missing out on by avoiding social interactions.
Parenting a toddler can be exhausting, but it is also magical. I'm nowhere near ready for this stage to end with my youngest, but I'm going to soak up every maddening, loving and teaching moment while I still can.