The moment your child becomes a toddler your patience, ability to adapt and overcome, and mostly, your sense of humor, are tested. And with so much change and frustration and boundary-pushing, it can be easy to miss the little moments. You know, the moments when your toddler is trying to say, "Hey mom, you're doing great!" Well, I say it's time us toddler moms slow down and make an effort to notice these seemingly unremarkable moments more often. After all, we need all the validation we can get.
To be honest (and at the risk of sounding like I'm bragging), my son has been sending low-key appreciation vibes my way since the day he was born. That first moment he looked into my eyes, I felt it. That subtle "good job pushing me out, mom" message came through, loud and clear. I knew, even as a brand new baby with little-to-know knowledge of what in the hell just happened, my son was grateful that I brought him into the world.
Now, my son won't always flat-out tell me when I'm doing OK, but I've learned to pick up on the little things that let me know he appreciates my constant sacrifice, dedication, and love. The way he screams my name when he's sitting on the toilet and needs help wiping, for example. Or how he always chooses me to carry him when he's tired, even if we're walking around with 29 other people. So, again, we might not always notice, but our toddlers are trying to give us proverbial pats on the backs, and in the following ways:
So, my little guy isn't the best at giving his mom a compliment. Well, at least not in a traditional sense. But if I'm stressed or overwhelmed or just exhausted, and he says something like "you're only half-bummer," I know it's his way of telling me how awesome I am. Because, to him, the rest of the world is in full bummer-mode. I've also gotten "you're only kind of boring" and "you look like a horse" (my son likes horses). I'm so lucky.
My son isn't a huge tantrum-thrower. He's pretty quiet, keeps to himself, and doesn't like to cause any trouble (except maybe with his big sister, but that's another story for another time). So when I'm struggling to keep it together while he throws a fit over whatever obscure thing kids throw fits over, I feel like I'm failing. When he stops short of WWIII, though, I know I'm doing just fine.
How many meals does it take for a toddler to decide they like literally anything on their plate? The answer is, unfortunately, a lot. On the rare occasion my boy not only eats what I give him, but doesn't say a single negative thing about it, I feel like I've won some elusive "Mother of the Year" award.
My husband is home most nights and is fully capable of putting our children to sleep. My kids, however, almost always want mom (read: me) to do it. Sometimes it's frustrating — especially if I'm in the middle of doing a hundred other things — but if my youngest asks for me to tuck him in, and he looks up at me with those big eyes of his, I know it's his way of telling me I'm special. No one does it like mom does, and that makes me feel extremely appreciated.
Sometimes, as a mother, I need some damn peace and quiet. It's a fact of life. My kids don't always understand why, though, so there have been moments when I've had to literally beg for even 10 seconds of "me" time so I can re-focus or calm down. When my son intuitively senses that I need time to myself, I know he's acknowledging everything I do for him, and his sister, on a daily basis.
I work from home, rarely put on actual clothes, hardly ever do my hair or makeup, or do anything else that would make me look like a put-together human. Still, almost every single day my son finds a way to let me know he sees me — like really sees me. He'll tell me he likes my big hair, or that I'm the smartest mom he knows (not that he knows many), and suddenly I don't feel all frumpy. When I feel lost, or like my life consists of nothing more than my house walls, he makes sure I know I'm doing great, no matter what.
Those unexpected hugs your kid randomly gives you for literally no reason? Yeah, they are the best. And when a hug lasts longer than a split second? You guessed it: also the best damn thing in the world. It could be the worst day in all my years of parenting, and if, at the end of the day, I get those hugs, all the bad melts away.
I may not be the best mom, or even a good mom on those particularly tough days, but if you ask my son he'll tell you every time: I'm only half-bummer. And that's pretty damn great in my book.
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