As I sit and write this morning, my sweet toddler boy is trying to escape our front door to ride his new tricycle. Of course, he does not understand that there is a lock about two feet above him and he can’t ride the tricycle by himself yet, but that does not stop a toddler on a mission. Toddler-hood is trying. I often refer to this stage as spiritual boot camp, as the fruit of the spirit (particularly patience) are a necessity to survive. It is no longer so much about the best for their development, as it is the survival of all humans in the home. They hurt themselves and get into danger regularly. They un-baby-proof everything and find plastic bags everywhere. When did we get so many plastic bags in our house?
My oldest daughter is turning four this summer, and is entering her childhood. She was only a toddler herself when she became an older sister. The transition was difficult for all of us. I have forgotten much of my son’s first year, and I hope to do better at savoring each precious moment with him. I know this will not last long.
I grieve the baby stage today.
How does a mom properly remember her children’s lives? If we live behind a camera, then we miss the sweet moments behind the screen. I am not truly there, but constantly thinking about composition and my future-self looking at these images capturing moments without remembering the smells, feelings, or other sensations that create our memories.
Yet, I do not trust my mind. My mom brain is horrible, so I have to rely on these images and my stories. I have pondering my writing lately, wondering if my words are empty instead of the encouragement I had hoped they would be. Today, I am thankful for my written stories carrying the memories into the future. I can describe the emotions of my life. I can describe the taste of the food we had on a trip. There is so much potential for my memories to never leave me or my family. What a wild world we live in.
The First Year
I wish I had been writing during my pregnancy and the first year of my son’s life. I know the time was exhausting and chaotic, but I now hold a few images to try to remember his first moments. I do remember a few things, like his RSV and the repeating ear infections. My daughter had two eye infections. We have since discussed why we don’t scratch our butt and touch our face. Something I never thought I would talk about with an almost-three-year-old.
My son was clingy. That’s an understatement. He was severely attached. I was trying to find a job at three months postpartum, and started working at a local radio station. I am forever grateful for their willingness to teach me and provide a job during those months, even though it did not work out. I discovered the expense of childcare when my mother-in-law passed from colon cancer, and my son needed me to help him deal with life and learn enough to be confident in security. Sometimes I wonder if my stress added to his uncertainty.
On a positive note, he was my snuggle bug. Very wary of others, he relied on a select few individuals for safety. Doctors and nurses, strangers at the grocery store, and friends at church were not trustworthy. Now, he will say hello and be happy as long as he is near a trusted person. The brother-sister relationship changed drastically once he entered toddler-hood. He was no longer a delicate baby, but a playmate for my daughter. They both played roughly, and both go too far at times. I remind myself they are still learning.
What a blessing these children are. When they color together, or help comfort one another, I catch a glimpse of God’s plan for us. When I must muster up more patience, I see God’s patience for me. I have grown through my children. They have taught me so much, even as they fight behind me. Thank you, Lord, for my sweet blessings. And help me to remember them more often.