It’s Mother’s Day this weekend, and I’ll be celebrating my fourth Mother’s Day with my kids and husband. Being a mom has changed me in so many ways and I am so grateful I get to be mom to two amazing kids. My journey to motherhood wasn’t easy, as I shared in my Mother’s Day post 2 years ago. That post resinated with a lot of my readers and I wanted to make it a yearly tradition to write Mother’s Day posts reflecting on my experiences in motherhood.
I wrote the post I’m sharing today 1 year ago, planning to post it on Mother’s Day 2017, but somehow I never posted it (mom life!). I found it sitting in my draft posts and I still think it’s great, so I decided to post it now (better late than never!). My son is now a preschooler and my daughter is now entering toddler territory, so I think I’m going to need to write a follow-up post about being a mom to a preschooler and toddler 😉 but for now, please enjoy my 5 best things about being mom to a toddler and baby.
Some days being a mom is just plain hard! Now that I’m officially a stay-at-home mom, I’m realizing that being home with children all day isn’t always as dreamy as I’d imagined. The last few weeks have been challenging for me. My toddler is potty training and really good at throwing tantrums. My baby is just learning how to crawl and finding her voice, which is both exciting and frustrating.
But I try to remind myself as often as possible how this is a stage that is going to go by too fast and that I need to remember to enjoy it all because one day I’ll miss having the toddler and baby. So here is my list of the 5 best things about being a mom to a toddler and baby:
1. I am improving myself for them
Now that my son is a toddler, it’s really hit home how much children learn from and emulate their parents. My son copies words and actions I do everyday. He recently asked to take a picture of me using my camera on my iPhone. I had no idea he even knew how to take a picture on the iPhone.
He opened the camera app and then he proceeded to say “look over here” and make kissing noises while waving his fingers above the phone. I immediately recognized this as what my husband and I do to get the baby’s attention while taking pictures of her. I couldn’t believe he had copied it so well! I have a huge grin on my face in the picture he took of me because I was so surprised he had learned this from me, and it was the cutest thing I’d ever seen him do.
Realizing that my kids are going to copy things I say and do makes me watch my actions and words much more closely. I don’t want to talk negatively about other people or use bad language in front of them because I would be so disappointed if they did those things. And then I realized if I don’t want my kids to do it, I shouldn’t do it myself. Who am I to judge others and myself?
I’m trying to not dwell on my own perceived faults for my children’s sake. I want them to grow up with self-confidence. I want them to love and accept their bodies, their intelligence, their looks. So I am trying to not speak negative about these things in myself. From time to time I find myself dwelling on my looks (why do I already have so many wrinkles around my eyes? Why can’t my hair look great everyday?), my body (will my stomach ever be flat again? Will I ever lose the last 5-10 lbs of pregnancy weight?), or my intelligence (Am I as good of an engineer as my co-workers?) and often speaking these negative feelings out loud.
I want to try to control these feeling and not vocalize them, especially in front of my children. I want my children to see a mom with confidence. A mom who isn’t afraid to wear a swimsuit and swim with them at the pool (no matter what my body looks like because they don’t care!), a mom who looks and feels just as good with no makeup and a ponytail as with a fully made-up face and a blowout (because to them I am beautiful either way!), and a mom who does work she is proud of everyday.
2. Everyday is an emotional rollercoaster
I laugh several times everyday, I get frustrated and angry several times everyday, I cry occasionally, and the rest of the time I have a huge smile on my face.
Sometimes I find myself smiling while walking through a store with my baby girl in her carrier because I’m so happy to be there spending time with her. Sometimes I laugh so hard while playing with my son that my cheeks and stomach start to hurt. That kid knows how to have fun, and being around him having a good time is infectious!
Sometimes I get so frustrated and angry with my son’s tantrums or my daughter’s crying that have to just go to a room by myself for a while to cool down. I call my husband at work to vent about all the things the kids do that make me crazy during the day. I often feel the need to relax with a beer or glass of wine after the kids go to bed. But I’ve had far more happy moments with my children than angry ones, and I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.
3. Everyday is new and different
I don’t get stuck in a routine with everyday feeling the same anymore. Everyday something new happens with kids this young. They are always learning new things and changing and it’s amazing to watch and be a part of it.
My husband and I read my toddler son stories every night before bed. Lately my son has been obsessed with a book called “Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site.” We had to read it to him every single night for weeks. One night he asked me, “Mama, can I read the book tonight?”, and I said, “Sure go for it…” thinking he would recite the first page, if that, then I would take over. Well my son proceeded to recite the entire book from memory – It was amazing!
Sure he messed up a few words here and there and mumbled through a few sentences when he didn’t know the exact words, but he knew most of the words in the book and even when to turn each page. I was flat-out impressed because I didn’t even have the whole book memorized yet. I actually started to cry a little while he was reading because I was so impressed, amazed, and to be honest, a little scared by it. I realized just how smart he is and how much he is absorbing everyday.
With babies there is even more changes happening everyday. How is it that my baby was born just seven months ago and is already eating new foods, sitting up, and trying to crawl? She has loved every new food and experience we’ve introduced to her. Nothing seems to throw off my adventurous little girl.
She is so close to crawling and I’m not ready! I like to be able to set her down while I go to the bathroom and or do the dishes and know she will still be in the same spot when I come back for her in a few minutes. But lately she is getting around! She isn’t crawling yet, but she can really move herself with her arms. She spins 360 degrees and can move laterally really well. She no longer stays in exactly the same spot I put her down in. I love watching her progress and develop her strength and personality.
4. I get to play!
Kids are fun! I forgot how much fun it is to be a kid until I had my own. We play with toys and use our imaginations, we draw and color, we have dance parties, we read, we have movie night once a week and I love it all just as much as they do! I make funny noises and faces at my daughter to get her to smile and laugh. She loves it and often tries to imitate some silly things like blowing raspberries. Doing these things with my son and daughter is so much fun and really refreshing to my spirit.
I love to dance…I’m not really good at it, but I loved a good night out dancing with my girl friends when I was in my 20s. Since I’ve had kids I don’t go to clubs and dance anymore, but luckily my son loves to dance and requests that we play “dance party” at home. We will blast a few songs we love like Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” or The Naked and Famous’s “Punching in a Dream” and let loose in the living room. I tell my son to feel the music and we move however feels good. I spin him in circles, we wave our hands, and we move our feet and hips to the beat. We have so much fun dancing together and I love it as much as he does! I’ve been bouncing the baby during our dance parties to get her involved and she loves the music too!
Around the time he turned two years old my son was finally able to sit thought a whole movie without getting bored or distracted, so we started to have a movie night once a week after we put the baby to bed. My son gets so excited to pick out a movie and a snack then cuddle on the couch with mom and dad for the night. Luckily, a lot of the recent kid movies have some humor for the parents too, so they are pretty fun for us to watch with him. He is currently really into the Ice Age movies and wants to watch the latest movie, Ice Age: Collision Course every week. I am starting to use the movie time to catch up on social media on my iPad while he watches the movie because I’ve seen the movie about 10 times already and he still wants the same one every week…but I’m happy to let him watch it again and again because it makes him so happy.
5. Giving and receiving gifts are fun again
I’ve always been more of a giver than a receiver. I love giving gifts of all kinds – store bought and homemade to family and friends. But when it comes to receiving gifts I always find myself feeling undeserving of them. I think to myself, I wish they didn’t spend so much money on me, even though I spent the same amount or more on them! I’m the same when it comes to spending money on myself. I’d much rather spend my money on clothes for my kids than for me, but luckily I have a great husband who encourages me to spend money on myself once in a while too. He helps me remember that it’s important and ok to take care of myself too.
Giving to my son has also helped me learn how to be grateful for presents. Watching him get a reward, present or special treat is one of my favorite things. Getting something in the mail, chocolate milk, ice cream, being allowed to watch a favorite TV show, or getting a new toy animal are all the most exciting and amazing things in his life. I love watching his pure joy and happiness from giving him one of these small rewards.
If my son’s been good all morning and we don’t have plans for the day, I might let him watch a show on TV while I nurse the baby. He gets so excited for this and will do almost anything to ensure he earns this reward. I make sure he’s eaten all his breakfast, brushed his teeth, and cleaned up all his toys before he can watch a show in the morning. He gladly does these things so he can watch his 30 minute Lion Guard, Daniel Tiger, or Dinosaur Train TV show. He watches the whole show with a smile on his face and then is sweet to me afterwards because I let him watch his show.
When my son has been good all day and has eaten all his dinner, we sometimes let him have ice cream for dessert. This small act will make his life. He gets so excited and happy and I love watching his reaction and feeling the same joy though his reaction. Children’s emotions are so pure and raw and they help me to remember how to be grateful everyday.
I’m sending positive vibes to all the moms out there today. I hope you have a great day with your children and take time to think about your favorite things about being a mom. Happy Mother’s Day to all you hard-working and loving Mamas! <3