There was a period of time for a while there when I would read other people’s accounts of their toddlers, and how much they love that age, and how much it was their favorite, and I would think:
What am I doing wrong? Because this? Is the hardest damn thing I’ve ever done.
I’m serious when I say that the ages of 18 months to 2.5 years were harder, BY FAR, than anything that came before that. Even the newborn/infant/pumping/hormone fest was a cakewalk compared to those months. And I swear, it broke my heart, because I love, love, love, love this kid…but man I did I feel like I was screwing things up because I didn’t really LOVE the “age.”
I tried to convince myself that the theory that I just didn’t love the toddler age…that I wasn’t a toddler mom…didn’t mean that someday I wouldn’t be able to again say, “I love this age.” I didn’t always believe myself. I worried that maybe, just maybe, I just wasn’t a great anything-but-an-infant mom. That I had used up my share of “I love this age” on the months when my child (awesome though he was) was immobile and unable to communicate.
And then, 3 snuck up on us.
Guys, I LOVE this age.
It feels crazy to say that in some ways. Three is volatile and tantrum prone. Three is pushing boundaries and pushing buttons. Three is manipulative and sneaky. Three likes to climb on things to make my heart stop. Three is up and down and up and down and up and down. Three is TOUGH YO.
But oh my gosh, three is also awesome. Capital A awesome. Because this little dude, in all his three-ness, is SO MUCH FUN.
Jackson’s always had a personality, but now he has the language skills to really share that personality. He’s a funny little dude, with funny little quirks, and funny little sayings. I love being able to have conversations with him, to be able to ask him how he feels, to get feedback on what we’re doing. I love the inflection in his voice when he’s excited or astounded, the way he says “Oh YEAH” when you remind him of something he likes.
His imagination is taking off too, which is adorable. The other day, he was pulling his MegaBloks wagon around when an idea struck. He stopped and went to get my lunch bag, his water bottle, a sunglasses case, and the calculator that he’s played with as his phone forever. He came back & put them all in his wagon, and then waved at me and said, “Bye Mommy, I’m on my way to work. Have a good day, I’ll see you later!” And he proceeded to “leave for work” 10 times in the next 10 minutes. I love watching him pull what he knows, and what he has around, and build these scenarios to play out.
He’s reached a point where he can sit still to have an entire picture book read to him, where he plays with others instead of just next to them, where he sings his little preschooler songs all day long, where he can get himself in and out of the car, where he can help with chores more regularly.
Almost as importantly, Jackson is at a point where the spark of recognition for consequences is there. He understands why he got in trouble, he understands what we mean when we say “if you don’t do x, then y will happen.” That doesn’t mean he doesn’t still do X, but you can see that he knows why he got in trouble. You can see when those warnings make a difference. He is three in all his boundary pushing ways, but I feel so much more secure in my parenting now that I know I’m getting through, not just disciplining a brick wall.
This age is challenging, for sure. It’s exhausting and frustrating and trying. But it’s also amazing. It’s filled with belly laughs and tickle fights and playing trains and counting stars and reading books and jumping off curbs and racing to the park and playing superhero and generally doing all the amazing things I thought about my entire life when I thought about what it would be like to have a kid.
So maybe I wasn’t a great toddler mom. But I’m pretty much loving being a three year old mom.
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