I love my daughter. I love her so much sometimes it overwhelms me. But now that she’s no longer a helpless baby but instead a toddler, with an ever-growing independent spirit, sense of self, and will, loving her is a little more complicated. Of course I love her, the person, forever and always, to the moon and back. But I don’t love everything she does, or all the situations having a toddler puts me in. After much reflection, I’ve compiled an abridged list of the things I do and don’t love about this stage of parenting:
– I DO love that my child is developing her own likes and dislikes. Yesterday she asked for a “quesa” (quesadilla) for breakfast. Unconventional, but hey she ate the whole thing so I’m not complaining.
I DON’T love the flying dishes, dropped forks, and food-splattered shirts that result when my wonderful daughter decides she doesn’t want a particular type of food, or when I don’t respond quickly enough to her emphatic announcement “All done!”
– I DO love to watch Baby Girl develop her sense of style and fashion. She loves wearing bows in her hair, and likes to make sure everyone else does too (including Mimi, Poppy, our dog, and all her stuffed animals). I DON’T love her new favorite game when we are getting ready to go, which is “run away from mama when she comes at me with my shoes in her hands.” I also DON’T love her insistence that she doesn’t really need to wear pants.
– I DO love C’s developing vocabulary. Some of my favorite phrases of hers: “hi guys!” when she enters a room, “oh boy!” when she’s excited, “oh my!” when she’s surprised, and of course “I wuv you” which I can’t hear often enough. I DON’T love her increased bossiness, as heard about a hundred times a day in the following commands: “Sit down,” “Stand up,” “My oom” (as in “Come into my room right now) “Pictures!” whenever she see’s my phone (she loves looking at the photos I’ve taken, mostly of her), and “Bite, bite please!” whenever I’m enjoying a tasty treat.
– I DO love that she appreciates music, saying “dancing, dancing!” and twirling around whenever she hears a song on the TV. I DON’T love that her taste is very limited, so whenever we get in the car she inevitably asks for “Mickey songs.” I sing the Hot Dog song in my sleep.
– I DO love that she adores books, and will happily look at her stack of “stories,” reading them to herself for hours (or at least minutes) at a time. I DON’T love it when she starts obsessing over a particularly long or boring book. I’ve try to hide it, but somehow she still manages to find that one about Robert’s loose tooth that is so boringly repetitive I want to pull out my own teeth by the end.
– I DO love that she’s becoming more aware of the state of her diaper. She’s starting to tell me “stinky pants” (she also likes to drag her changing pad around the house, checking all her stuffed animals for “stinky pants.”) I DON’T love it that when it’s time to change the “stinky pants” she will often shake her head, insisting “no, no” and melting down as I muscle her onto the changing pad.
– I DO love to watch her become more coordinated, able to do things like throw a ball with fairly good force and aim. I DON’T love that she likes to throw said ball from approximately two feet away from me, and aims for my face.
– I DO love that she’s developing her own interests and ability to entertain herself. It’s such fun to watch her sort her plastic food, line up all her stuffed animals, or read a book out loud to herself (“Pink pink pink! More more more! Pink a boo!” is one of her favorites…I’m sure all the girl mamas out there recognize this story). I DON’T love that when I interrupt her private play time in order to say, feed her lunch, she throws a giant screaming fit.
These toddler phases remind me of A Tale of Two Cities. They are the best of times, and the worst of times. Still, no matter how impatient or irritated I get, the mama love in my hearts burns as strong as ever. Mothering a toddler has convinced me more of the truth of God’s everlasting love than I ever believed before. What a comfort to know that no matter how frustrated or sad my behavior makes my Heavenly Father, nothing changes or diminishes His love for me. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1.