I am currently sitting on the couch with the biggest bowl of chocolate ice cream from Brahm’s, my favorite, celebrating that I made it. I survived this “battle field of toddler tantrum bombs” kind of a day. Ya’ll. Motherhood is hard. So hard. And so beautiful. And exhausting. You’re raising HUMANS for peet’s sake. Yesterday I read upwards of 15 articles written by psychologists and pediatricians on the behavior of toddlers and effective ways to raise them. I kid you not…15. And I took notes. I have them readily available to read when I am knee deep in the trenches and need inspiration on how to raise these darlings whom I adore, yet oh how to push all my buttons.
If I could, I would hold the sweet face of this mere 24 hour old mama (pictured above—me with my precious Wyatt Daniel) and speak some sweetness and truth into her journey of motherhood that was just beginning.
With motherhood, you take on a new part of yourself. It happens all of the sudden, and in the exhaustion of newborn (or new baby/toddler/child) fog, you are trying to get to know this new role you have the honor of holding. This little creature that snuggles into your arms depends on you and will continue to depend on you. This dependance is foreign. But take heart. It is a gift you will cherish. Lovey, hold these truths close, they are what I wish someone would have spoken to me.
#1 You need a tribe. You cannot do this alone mama. Ask all the questions. Find a community of mothers and join that circle. Everyone walks their path differently, but there are similarities. Respect the differences, collaborate on the similarities.
#2 You will be tired. The sleepless nights won’t end for a while, especially during flu season. Period. Nap when you can and tag team. Drink all the coffee and develop a schedule that works for you. Some days are meant for pajamas and movie marathons.
#3 It is okay to hide in a closet. Sometimes you will need to walk away from a screaming baby or an inconsolable toddler. Pass the child to your partner. Go into the closet (maybe take a pound of chocolate) and take some deep breaths. Reboot. You’ve got this. Channel all that frustration into modes of teaching them. Speak with gentleness.
#4 Reflect at the end of each day. Say yes as much as you can, but establish the importance of ‘no’. There will be good days and horrible days, and some days land somewhere in between. Pat yourself on the back for successes and learn from the mistakes of the day.
#5 You will make mistakes. Ask for forgiveness. Learn. Move onward soldier.
#6 Be intentional. Stop. Stop doing the laundry, the dishes, picking up, mopping, sweeping, cooking, whatever it is, just stop. And play. Pick up those trains or cars or teacups and play with your little one. Engage in their world of imagination. Even if only for 15 minutes, those 15 minutes bring heaven to earth for your baby.
#7 Pray. Center yourself. Seek wisdom.
#8 Celebrate. It is so easy to get caught up in the ‘don’t do this and don’t do that’s’, that we complete miss the moments of gloriousness. A special toy is shared. A sweet and tender kiss for their sibling. The bravery in trying a new activity. Use those words of affirmation to build a healthy self esteem.
#9 Above all, pour out all the love onto your babies. Our sweet babies have so much going on in their minds and bodies. Give the expectations and discipline, but give it drenched in gentleness and grace.
#10 Remember, YOU have been given the gift of being their momma. Treasure that gift, even on the days when toddler tantrums are flying, patience is thin and frustration is high. Hold your babies tight. Snuggle them long after they have gone to bed. Breathe in their scent. Pray over their hearts. Declare that they belong to the Lord and Him only. You are doing kingdom work, momma. Beautiful, kingdom work.