There was a day years ago when I came face to face with this horrible fact.
I did not like my children.
I loved them and would lay down my life for them, but I did not enjoy them like I had hoped I would.
Instead, I had given into the hype around me about bratty kids and the terrible twos. It was easy to find myself believing that my kids were just going through a phase and would grow out of it.
But what if they didn’t?
And what if I would never be able to enjoy my children?
Right then, I decided the fault lay not with my children . . . but with me. I had failed in some areas of my training – but I mostly needed to stop listening to secular parenting advice. Even some Christian advice gave credence to the terrible twos and bratty toddler syndrome – placing blame with the toddler instead of the parent.
I also know many parents try their hardest in parenting, yet have an extremely strong-willed child. I am not discounting this at all and you have my admiration! We talked about some of this in the child training podcasts.
But I do believe too many young moms were like me years ago. They think their toddlers cannot be enjoyable until they’ve reached school age or older. They talk themselves out of training babies because the lie going around is that every child turns into a monster at age two.
We give up before we ever start.
Thankfully, God brought this horrendous fact to my attention when Lowell and I were just beginning our trek through parenting six kids. I cannot tell you how incredibly glad I am that He made me aware of this before I had too many regrets.
Which is why I share it with you today.
It would be many years until I could articulate what that realization did for me, but the words of a dear friend summed it up nicely. She told me, “Train your children so that others can enjoy them!”
But selfish me had already made up my mind that I wanted to train my children so that I enjoyed them. And if lots of training is what it took, then I would make it my life’s work.
I also want to add in here that Lowell is an excellent father, and he did as much or more in training our littles as what I did!
The toddler years do not have to be full of drudgery like some parents would have us believe. They are an immensely beautiful time in the relationship between you and your child.
It’s not just about diapers, midnight feedings and peanut butter sandwiches. It’s not just about sippy cups, diaper rashes and temper tantrums.
Baby and toddler years are about innocence, learning, and communicating. They are filled with the sweet smell of a newborn baby, the softness of little arms about your neck, and the kisses from little pink lips. It’s about having your own fan club with adoring fans that want to be with you all the time. Little feet that try to walk like you do, little lips that do their best to talk on the phone like you do, and little eyes that gaze adoringly into yours.
I have a teenager and two adolescents – and there are so many days I wish I could go back. If only to tuck away more toddler memories in my heart forever.
Don’t be like I was.
Don’t wish the toddler years away. Don’t push aside your adoring fans to do something of more importance. You might be pushing them away forever.
Instead, stop every day and simply enjoy them. They don’t need a mom who serves a four-course dinner every night. They don’t need a spotless house or Pinterest-inspired curtains in every room. They don’t need the latest electronic game or Lego set.
They need you, Mama.
They want a mama who will train them from little up –
before they ever reach the terrible twos . . .
who teaches them how to blow dandelions in the springtime . . .
who will stick to her guns and not give in to the tears . . .
who shows them the fun of eating an ice cream cone . . .
Take it from a mama who wishes she could go back some days: train them while very young – and you will enjoy them at every single step of the way.