My little girl has been an angel since day one. I say that with total seriousness.
Right after she was born in October, a nurse told us we'd have to watch a video on PURPLE Crying before we were discharged, but it was forgotten about with all the chaos in Labor and Delivery. It turned out to be more than okay, though, because our baby rarely cried for her first several months of life, except to say she was hungry. There was only one day when she fussed for an extended period of time.
That day stands out in my memory because it was so unlike her. She bawled for almost two hours straight, and then off and on later that day. Maybe the culprit was an upset tummy or gas. I never quite figured it out, but I was relieved when I could finally settle her down.
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Fast forward to the present day; she's approaching a year old, and up until about two weeks ago, hasn't cried or whined much to speak of. She can have a shy demeanour, but she's a total ham once she gets going. She'll wave nonstop, smile and giggle, and out of nowhere, she'll look at you while doing her dainty 'little side clap,' as we call it. It's the cutest thing ever, especially when she tilts her head along with it.
Her budding personality is also bringing about another change — and it's a big one: the toddler attitude. Sometimes it's as if my sweetheart's been replaced by a growling bear. Cue the meltdowns when it's time for a diaper change, when we need to throw away the ear of corn she's gnawed for 45 minutes, or when daddy isn't mommy. Cue the random sleep regression too, which means more screaming. After a while, this toddler behaviour leaves me in tears. I'm not used to it at all.
In my heart I know there's a lot of cognitive and emotional development happening here, and not only is my girl having trouble understanding the world around her but communicating how she feels is difficult too. Knowing that doesn't always make it easier though.
My first thought was, "Help! My baby's turning into a toddler." Then I realized that I'm just getting started here. It's time to put on my big girl pants so I can lay the foundation for the rest of her life. The teachable moments, though small and seemingly insignificant right now, are beginning to roll in. We'll just have to work through the tantrums in the meantime.
I can't and won't act like I'm an expert on raising children; obviously I'm not yet. However, I do think the toddler stage is the time when it's especially important to have trustworthy mama friends who have been there, done that, and have had favourable outcomes with their own kids. It's a time when we really need our own mom to help guide us so we make the best decisions. The mothers I know remind me that if I avoid discipline now, I will pay for it later.
I want our daughter and our future children to be able to come to me, or their dad, in the good times and bad. I want the byproduct of our positive relationship to extend to their friends and others they'll meet as kids, teens, and adults.
I definitely don't want to look back someday and wish I'd done things differently, so I'll start handling it today — even when I'm tired and I'd rather look the other way.
I'll teach what's right, what's wrong, and back up those principles with truth. I'll learn to withstand the meltdowns, and to cope with the toddler years that bring them, so I can be stronger down the road when the challenges are bigger than my daughter's lunch that's slung in the floor. My actions now matter more than I realize.