Thursday, 17 July 2014

Toddlerhood Teaches Me

I was tested, surprised, shocked, stretched to my limit the moment I became a mother. I quickly learned how free my time had been previously. I gradually adjusted to the fact that I could live on little sleep. 

As my child developed from a baby to a walking, expressing, demanding toddler, the lessons kept coming. My list will grow, but here is a snippet of my experience. 

1. I can carry more weight than I thought physically possibly. For much longer than I thought possible. Usually solely on one side. While I have to perform day to day tasks. Before becoming a comfort-and-transportation device I would have held someone else's baby (half the size of my current mini-me) for only five excruciating minutes and cramped up.

2. Unless I want to be a hermit, public bathrooms are unfortunately necessary. I can try to avoid them. But toddlers need to go when they need to go. And hopefully my toddler will still need to go after experiencing my cautious disgust for a room full of mysterious germs from innumerable strangers. My disdain mixed with my effort to hold in my desire to spew out warning after warning after warning (don't touch that, don't put that down, don't rub up against that, don't, don't, don't) is enough to make me dizzy. "Let me out!" is not the best expression when trying to create a relaxed atmosphere for someone I am hoping to get out of diapers. 

3. Dawdling is required. Figure out how to adjust. A developing, curious mind can't be told all day to hurry up, or the imagination is not going to reach its potential. Sometimes, when there are no appointments, no deadlines, no raw meat packages waiting to be refrigerated, you just have to ignore time. Meander along the cement barriers. Observe the ants following a trail. Admire the clocks or ornaments or pictures in the store window. Stand and admire the passing train. Sometimes you just observe. Sometimes you discuss. Sometimes you participate. Sometimes you go off into your own world and wait for the moment to pass. But whatever it is you've got to get to, it will be there when you're ready. 

4. Maybe. Maybe your plan won't happen. That's the way it has to be from time to time. An hour of errands with a toddler isn't ever going to come anywhere near the productivity of an hour of errands alone. Sometimes things just need to be cut. I vote for folding laundry. Most definitely. It's just not necessary. 

5. Some things are necessary, no matter how difficult the torture is for the little one. That means sometimes toddlers are unhappy. No, kiddo, I can't hold you while I chop carrots. But the carrots are getting chopped. You'll survive. The neighbours may not think so, but you will. 

6. Who cares what the neighbours think. There are so many random opinions on opposite ends of the spectrum that it would never be possible to please everyone. So why try? My kid isn't going to be allowed to do what some others do (no matter how amazing). And she'll be doing other things that some parents wouldn't allow. 

7. I can change my mind about what I allow. It's called life. We have goals. Paths we are trying to take. And these little minds that contain much less information than we have in our own noggins still have the unfathomable power to persuade us to do things differently than we intended. The pre-mom me would be in denial of this possibility. She would be in shock witnessing some of my actions. But, as it turns out, ice cream happens more than I'd like to admit. Bed time is way later than I intended. Eating in the car is apparently a necessity. I've been informed. And, as number six states, it's okay if you don't agree.

I don't agree with myself sometimes. But that's parenting. Making mistakes. Taking the plunge when I don't know where it'll take me. Pushing through. Because, wow, through all the stress and stretching, it sure is amazing. 

I look forward to the lessons I will continue to learn as my daughter progresses through the different stages of life. I teach her. She teaches me. I'd say motherhood is the most demanding but rewarding academia. 

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