Two years of parenting has taught me some stuff. One of the most important, and difficult, lessons this overachiever had to learn was how to truly slow down and relish in my toddler. And God gave me a particularly clingy and needy baby to drive that lesson through my skull.
This morning we sat down to eat breakfast as a family. Not long after I sat down Maisy requested to be done and then requested to sit on my lap and then requested to continue eating on my lap. This used to make me very frustrated because I felt very responsible for teaching her that well behaved humans sit down at the table in their own chair and eat all their food. Instead, this morning, I welcomed her onto my lap and relished in the snuggling while sipping coffee.
The change happened when I got pregnant and I’m not only thankful for this new life we get to cherish but thankful for what it’s already done for me as a mom; I suddenly became completely aware that my days were literally numbered with just my first born little girl. Because I suddenly cherished each and every one of those moments with her I also realized that I am doing her no harm in letting her sit on my lap for part of a meal. Truth is, she’s still little and though she does need to learn all of her manners, including full table manners, she is still only 2 and still can only understand so much. To her, there’s something about sitting on my lap that she thinks she needs. She seems to have a quota of mommy time she needs to bank away every day and she’s realized meal time can help her reach that quota. My choices are to either stubbornly and coldly require my baby girl to conform to my notion of manners at this young age or I can give in to the greater need to fill up her love tank. I can tackle manners as her emotional needs mature and are more ready for it I think, don’t you? And ultimately, that’s what I’ve learned. This one example simply points to all the examples in my life with her that I used to view as character correcting moments. But what I failed to see is that toddlers, particularly my toddler, have raw and beautiful (if you can embrace them) emotional needs. This does mean sacrificing lots of time to “get things done” and/or getting creative with what you’re doing to include them or touch them or hold them, but it’s so worth it.