Today my oldest turns two. First of all, I don’t know how on earth I have a two-year-old. I’m pretty sure I just graduated college two years ago… oh wait, that was eight and a half years ago. (whomp whomp)
I still consider myself a total newbie as a mom. I’m unsure when to have interactive versus solo play, I’m completely winging the whole discipline thing, I have constant mom guilt over television, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get children to take adequate naps. But for as much as I feel like a rookie, there’s one thing I have learned that I am pretty sure I’m right about.
It keeps getting harder.
When I was expecting my daughter, I thought the newborn stage would be the hardest. Everyone talks about how the first six weeks are brutal because babies are so helpless. They need you for food, comfort, sleep, survival. There are no “needs versus wants.” It’s all needs and it’s all up to you. Overwhelming, right? Surely, the most helpless stage must be the hardest, with its long nights and nursing marathons.
I thought I had it figured out. Brace yourself for the first few weeks, but then things will smooth out.
New mom naiveté.
The first few weeks were relatively straight forward and I thought I was nailing motherhood. But suddenly the sleepy newborn stage was over and with each new milestone came a slew of new challenges. With more stability came added mobility. Less nursing turned into solid foods, which lead to the challenge of getting a toddler to eat. Comfort and survival were replaced with bittersweet independence and less sweet defiance.
There were so many decisions I had to make every day.
What to do when she kept trying after I told her no and when to stand firm versus back down.
When to coddle her versus build strength.
How to discipline her when she got into her brief hitting stage.
How to deal with the first time a kid shoved her on the playground (I had to dig deep to not let my inner mama bear out). And while we’re at it, how to teach her to share without letting her get pushed around.
How to make sure she becomes good, compassionate, intelligent, kind, happy.
It keeps getting harder. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with her first heartbreak or the first time I need to ground her. I’m sure there will be tears from both of us.
But the thing is, while it’s getting harder, it’s also getting better. Two years ago, she didn’t get underfoot while I was at the stove making dinner, but she also didn’t pull a dining room chair to the counter because she wanted to bake with me. She didn’t defy me then, but she didn’t give me hugs and kisses like she does now. Her personality is becoming more sassy and stubborn, but also so funny and loving.
There are so many ways that watching and helping her and her brother grow is stressful and increasingly hard. It’s filled with responsibility and frustration and heartbreak and many tears from fear that I’m doing it wrong.
I know that frustration and worry will continue over the years… after all, she’s only turning two. We’re merely at the tip of the iceberg. But I also know that for every frustrating and worried moment there will be one of excitement and pride. Parenting isn’t getting any easier.
But it’s always getting greater.
Happy birthday, Sweet Peach!