My baby is two years old, and other surprising facts

My baby girl turned two today. Two. She’s talking constantly, asking questions, exploring, becoming more and more aware of the world around her as she struggles to understand everything that she sees and hears. One of my favorite bloggers, Lisa-Jo Baker, has a new book out called Surprised by Motherhood. I haven’t read it yet, but the title got me thinking about the unexpected in my own motherhood journey. I decided to make a list (since that’s just what I do). In no particular order, here are some things that surprised me about being a mommy:

– How excited and proud I am of every new milestone reached and skill learned, from rolling over to pulling up to climbing into her high chair (then falling out…more guilt there than pride really)
– How hearing my baby laugh while I tickle her makes me laugh just as hard

– The soul-wrenching pain I feel when I have to do something for her own good that she doesn’t like, be it a time-out or letting her cry herself to sleep since she won’t fall asleep in my arms. It’s also amazing to me that God gives me the strength to follow through, even when each cry feels like it’s killing a part of my soul

– How suddenly her face can get dirty and her nose can turn crusty, no matter how many times I chase her down with a tissue. I always shook my head when I saw grubby toddlers and promised “not mine.” Ha

– Those mysterious “owies” that just appear on her body. Where did that scratch come from? When did you bruise your shin? Why are your teeth turning black? (oh wait, blackberries for lunch. Whew.)

– How hard it is to find balance as a mom. How do I give Charlotte enough love and attention but make sure she can play and function independently too? How do I train her to be a well-mannered, responsible, capable adult while making sure she has plenty of time to be a child? (I get the feeling this may be one of the central struggles of mommyhood)

– How easy it would be to spoil her, especially now that she’s old enough to start developing likes and interests and really show delight and excitement over something. Oh you love Minnie Mouse? Here’s a plush Minnie, and a baby Minnie, and a Minnie book with all the Clubhouse friends in figurine form, and a giant Minnie Mouse balloon. Yeesh. I blame Disney and their pervasive and insidious marketing. I know there must be a line between making your daughter’s day and spoiling her rotten, and I don’t think I’ve crossed it. Yet.

– How differently I approach clothes shopping now. Used to be if I needed a little retail therapy I’d pick out a new top or two for myself. Now even if I’m looking for something for me, I have to hold myself back from making a beeline for the toddler department. I’ll halfheartedly try on a dozen items of clothing, only to decide what I already own will do fine and go pick out a couple new shirts for C instead. Because she needs more clothes. Ahem. (see item above). Maybe this is a girl mom problem?

I could go on. And on. But I’ll save it for another time. For now I’ll end with a short message to my (deep breath) two-year-old:I love you Baby Girl, with all my heart. To the moon and back. You are the light of my life, even when you throw tantrums and make unreasonable demands and boss me around (not that I’ll let you get away with it!) All I ever want to do is hug you and squeeze you and kiss you and hold you and never let go. But I will let you go, one excruciatingly hard moment at a time, because that’s what you need, and that’s what I’m called to do. So let me rock you a little more, and hold you a moment longer, and kiss you one more time. Because I need to store it all up in my heart before you’ve up and grown. Do me a favor, and stay two for a really long time, k?

Yes, I am tearing up. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go watch my daughter sleep for a while.

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