“Life with a toddler is humbling.”
Jordan was scrolling through an article on his phone and reading excerpts to me aloud. The article was all about typical toddler behavior, and it tried to reassure parents that most of the things we might find troubling about our child’s behavior were completely normal in his development to managing and expressing his emotions.
I’d just finished pouring out my heart about how Jameson’s hurling of things across the room and face slaps and throwing himself like an olympian doing a back dive into a pool have me questioning, “where did my sweet baby go?” And more accurately, “Am I getting this thing right?”
I know all the things that people would say to me and any parent asking this question. That I’m doing a great job. That Jameson is incredibly loved, which is the principal thing. That he’ll be fine.The rational part of me knows all these things to be true. But the emotional side of me can’t help but question whether I’m suffering from a case of not knowing what I don’t know. That by very nature of being flawed, I’m certain to get some things wrong. And I’m sensing that parenting is a never-ending path of feeling your way through, searching for the right balance of giving guidance, nurturing, protection, and correction.
Life with a 16-month-old is humbling.But as I think about it, parenting of children at any stage must be humbling. As they grow into children who rely on you less and less. As they become teenagers who suddenly view you as enemy #1. As they become adults who have a better sense of your very real flaws and brokenness. And as even older adults who come to take care of you.
Parenting is humbling.In the midst of the self-doubts being a parent exposes, there are incredibly bright moments that seem to redeem it all.My favorite thing about Jameson at this age is watching him wanting to do what “big people” do. He grabs cups, places his hand inside, and pulls out imaginary pieces of food that he feeds to himself — complete with fake chewing — and to us. (We, of course, always comment on how delicious it is, which makes him very pleased and eager to feed us more.) When he puts food on a spoon, he blows on it before eating it, not because it’s too hot, but because it’s what he sees us doing with his morning oatmeal.
He has a case of Sesame Street books that he grabs like a briefcase, while waving emphatically and saying, “see you later!” as though he’s headed off to work. He takes important calls on his toy cell phone. He loves to get his teeth brushed after we’ve brushed ours. He pretends to put Purell on his hands and rub them together (a post diaper routine for us). And he loves to hold the basketball like his daddy.There are also incredibly endearing moments when he backs up with anticipation, just so he can run back to me, laughing, and land in my arms. And there are hugs, where he stretches his little arms as far as they can go, leans into my neck, and embraces me. His hands land on my arms, since he’s not big enough to reach around to my back.
And then… he’ll pat me a few times with both hands, almost as if to say, “You need this, and I’m going to affirm you. You’re a good mom.”