My Two Year Old Is My Friend

I have been warned about the famous “terrible two’s”. I have been told that my sweet baby will suddenly need spankings to be well-behaved. I have heard stories of two year olds that are constantly tantruming and hitting and acting out. But I can’t picture any of that happening because right now my two year old is one of my best friends.

We flow together and enjoy life together. I don’t feel like I’m always striving against him. We are on the same team. 

He’s happy to do housework with me and sometimes cleans up all his toys without me asking. He helps me care for the baby. He picks flowers for me. He sings songs with me. We laugh together. What more could I ask for in a friend?

I talk about what we are doing next so he is not caught off guard and he flows easily into the next activity. In general, he accepts my judgment when I say it’s time to do something else even if he doesn’t understand why. And though neither of us like to leave the park, we think of fun things we can do together once we get home.

Sometimes he is having a rough day. Sometimes he gets frustrated when I can’t understand what he is saying. We both work through it the best that we can. Sometimes he really wants to play with a toy that the baby is using but he has to wait so we find something else to do while he waits. We get through all the struggles of life together.

Sometimes he gets really out of sorts and hits his baby brother for no apparent reason or starts to do things he knows are not allowed. I see this as a cry for help and for connection. So I listen a little harder and try to find out what he needs. Sometimes he is just hungry. Sometimes he needs a cuddle. Sometimes a little rough housing can turn a sad day into a happy one. Sometimes he probably feels a little bored and we need to get out of the house and run around.

There is a reason for everything he does even if I can’t see it right away. He is never trying to give me a hard time. He is having a hard time. And since he is my friend I will be right there to help him through it. I’ll be his greatest encourager.

My two year old is my friend. He is not my little enemy. I don’t spend my days trying to change him. I spend my time enjoying who he is and who he is becoming. And when he has a bad day I’ll be right there to help him because I want to be a good friend to him like he is to me.

Two More Pumpkins

We are expecting twins! YAY! We are super excited and super surprised and super nervous!

We need a bigger place so we are buying our first home. Yay! Praise God that the timing worked out well. We are saving our money for a minivan which is also a must if we ever want to go anywhere in one vehicle. We are also trying to make plans to hire help for me late in pregnancy and after the twins arrive. We have family nearby but it’s not going to be enough. Trust me.

My mind cannot wrap around how crazy this is going to be. If they come a couple weeks early (most twins do), I’ll have a 2.5 year old, a 16 mo, and two newborns!

Handling two newborns by myself sounds tough considering that the average newborn needs 9 hours of hand on care per day. Throw in two toddlers to the mix and my head is spinning. Let me just say that I’m praying the twins are pretty easy going babies. And also praying that the toddlers start learning to get along better really soon.

I have faith that it will work out though. If I can manage to survive the first year…things should get a little easier…I think. I mean if I have quite a bit of help I should be able to get a minimal amount of sleep and hopefully eat from time to time.

So let’s assume I make it through the first year. I should. I’m strong. Then ill have four toddlers. I’ll have a 3.5 yo, a 2.5 year old, and two one year olds. The house is not going to stay clean, folks. You know what I’ll be doing all day? Keeping them from killing each other! Everyone knows toddlers are all GREAT at sharing and don’t care AT ALL if a one year old (or two) knocks over their block tower. Yikes! I’m seriously going to spend all day putting out fires.

But it’s going to be great after that. I can homeschool them together. They might have similar interests. They will all be teens at the same time. And hopefully all my time spent doing conflict resolution and problem solving will pay off and they will become good friends. That’s my hope.

I picture them sitting around playing card games together. I picture them playing tag in our big backyard. I picture having lots of grandkids one day and having all my children over for thanksgiving and Christmas. And then I’ll think back to these years and my worries and fears and sleep deprivation. And it will all be worth it. And I’ll smile and laugh and tell them crazy stories of their toddlerhood days. I’m counting on having some crazy stories that may not seem funny immediately, but one day they will be golden.

In the meantime, send me a lot of prayers and encouragement. Being a mom to four under three will not be easy. I’m going to need God to give me some extra grace, strength, and patience. I know that He will. And any help with kids, or meals, or housework will be priceless.

When I Run Out of Patience

Sometimes I reach a point when I feel like I have nothing left to give to my children. I’ve heard “mama” too many times. I’ve responded to so many questions and whines and cries that I feel I cannot bear to respond appropriately one more time. Sometimes I feel stuck because I’ve reached my limit and I know I have to keep going on for another few hours til my husband gets home.

Sometimes I crave nothing more than a quiet moment alone without having to save one of my little ones from harming themselves or making a huge mess. At their age, they just can’t be left alone. At their age, they won’t just play by themselves peacefully. Sometimes I can’t get them down for a nap. Sometimes they skip a nap and are especially cranky and clingy. The great demands wear me out!

When I hit the end of my patience and I feel like I cannot possibly respond kindly to one more whiny word, I pause. I shed a tear to let off the stress if I need to. I listen to myself for a moment. I let my mind think through all the helpless feelings of inadequacy. I hear myself out. I empathize with myself. I tell myself that it’s okay that being a mom doesn’t always come easy. It’s okay that I’m not always feeling like singing songs with them and playing silly games. I’m not always feeling happy. It’s okay.

I tell myself that they won’t always need me this much. The baby won’t always try to eat every spider web. The toddler won’t always need so much feedback and attention from me. The baby won’t always cry when I set him down or leave the room. The toddler won’t always pour water on the carpet or bed. It’s funny really…all the crazy things they do.

Then I pray. I tell God I feel like I can’t go on. I tell God I feel overwhelmed and I ask for His help. He is so loving and patient and forgiving. That is what I’m striving to be. I know He will help me.

My final step is to force myself to do something I enjoy. Maybe I can’t get a moment of quietness alone, but I can fill my needs another way. The last time I reached the end of my rope, I decided to go for a walk. I loaded up the boys in my double stroller and off we went. It refreshed me enough that the rest of our evening went smoothly. 

It’s not always the best tactic to just keep pressing onward when I have nothing left to give. That would only set me up to make mistakes. Sometimes I have to stop and take care of myself so I can take care of my kids properly.

When I’m worn down, I can’t decipher what my kids REALLY are asking for. Instead of realizing that my tired toddler senses my stress and needs to be reassured by feeling connected to me, all I hear is that he is being so annoying. All I can see is the behavior and then I start to worry that I’m failing as a mom because he seems so out of control. Sometimes I’m too tired to see a way out. Sometimes I completely forget that a silly game of roughhousing can turn around almost any grumpy mood for my boys. I forget that we’ve been inside all day and they are probably terribly bored. I forget that I haven’t had an adult conversation all day. Sometimes I can’t  see their needs clearly or mine because my brain feels overwhelmed.

So I stop. I think. I pray. I let go of my stress by doing something I enjoy. And somehow, I find a little patience left inside me when I thought I had none.

Valued

You are valued. God considers you worth the price He paid. You were worth creating. You were worth dying for. You are worth listening to. You are worth teaching and correcting and guiding.

God considered you valuable before you could ever prove your worth. He decided you were worth it before you could even choose right or wrong. And even if you choose to do everything wrong, He will not regret His sacrifice but continue to call your name. And if you ever turn to Him for help, He will welcome you with open arms.

He loves you unconditionally. You are valued because God decided you were. God decided you were worth his time and love and patience. And even if you never acknowledge that, He thought you were worth it enough to make choosing Him an option.

I extend this same unconditional love to my children. I have decided that they are valuable and worth any sacrifice I might make. They are worth the morning sickness in pregnancy. They are worth the labor pains. They are worth my work and time. They are worth listening to. They are worth teaching and guiding and correcting.

They are worth all I have given a million times over. They are worth it if they are wonderful giving adults or if they become criminals. They are worth it if they “pay me back” somehow, or if they continue to need me greatly all my life. They are worth it whether their lives are long or short. They are worth it because I say so and I love them unconditionally. They are worth it to me.

They are worth my gentle voice and self control. They are worth giving my attention when they ask. They are worth every moment I choose to be kind and good and loving no matter how hard it may be. They are worth every missed concert and event. They are worth every mess I clean. They are worth every sleepless night.

My children will always be worth any sacrifice I could make just like God decided I was worth His great sacrifice.

Trust

I trust my toddler when he says he is hungry or thirsty. I offer him something to eat or drink as soon as I can. I trust my toddler when he shows me he doesn’t want to sit still any longer and needs some exercise. I trust him when he seems tired or overwhelmed and wants to go home.

I trust him when he throws himself on the floor and cries. I believe him and acknowledge that he is upset. I trust that he is worth listening to.

I trust that his interests are valid and important. Although it may be boring to me, I trust him when he wants to spend hours on one activity. I trust that only he knows how he can learn best. Only he knows what he enjoys the most.

I trust that his words are important when he talks to me. I pay attention to every time he points out a bird or a car or a plane. I trust that if it is important to him, it should be important to me.

I’m teaching him that his words are worth hearing and his interests are worth having. I’m teaching him that he has great value. When I trust my toddler, I’m teaching him that he can trust himself.

Strong

I feel like a strong person. I feel grounded and settled in my innermost being. I feel strong and capable physically and like I’m prepared for the hard days of motherhood.

I feel strong when I accomplish hard tasks. I feel strong when I help someone in need despite all my own needs. This is a good satisfaction I feel with my hard work.

I feel strong when I do what I want to do and go where I want to go and make it work with my little guys in tow. I feel strong when I manage my time well so my toddler doesn’t feel rushed but I’m still arriving at my destination on time. I feel strong when I’m not stressed but focused on what needs to happen. I feel strong when I enjoy the little moments even through all the hard work.

I feel strong when I give and make sacrifices no one even knows about. I feel strong when I overcome and push through the way I feel. I feel strong when I can keep the secret things secret and not make excuses and not explain all my struggles when it’s not the right time.

I feel strong when I realize I am in control of my self, my emotions, my words, my actions, and my reactions. I feel like nothing can break me down. I feel powerful. I AM strong.

An Obedient Heart

You can control the body of a person if you are stronger but not their mind and heart. When force and pain is involved, obedience on the outside can happen but you are likely to have bitterness and anger and fear on the inside. I see this as only half hearted obedience. You can’t force someone to obey and cooperate with their heart. You can inspire them to be on your team and to trust you and to want to please you.

Jesus said “if you love me, you will obey me.” He is God. He could’ve said, “I will strike you down dead if you don’t obey!” He could have chosen to control our minds even and force complete submission to him. He could have even said, “if you fear my power, you will obey.” But why did he say, “if you LOVE me”? 

If I truly love God, I will obey Him because I want to please Him. All He has to do is tug on my heart to correct me, and I am quick to apologize and change. What a beautiful thing a heart of obedience is! It is a heart that wants to do what is right.

God has given us free will. He lets us go our own way but His love is wooing us to Him. It just wouldn’t be love if we were forced to obey.

It is by love that my children will obey me with their hearts and bodies. Of course they can choose to disobey. But their power to choose makes their obedience such a beautiful thing. When my son obeys me I know it is from a heart of love and trust and that he is slowly learning self-control. This makes me feel very pleased with him and happy that we have such a good relationship.