Nella turns 3 this summer and she has no doubt taught me more about myself and being a mother in only these three short years than I could have ever imagined. Motherhood is different at this toddler stage than it is at the newborn stage. Humor me while I roll off some of the lessons I have learned about motherhood so far and what I have learned about my almost 3 year old..
THEY ARE SPONGES. Nella learns so much in such a short amount of time. I feel like her mind is constantly going and trying to observe and process everything she sees and hears in her big world. Sometimes I love just looking at her watching the world around her. I feel like I can just see her wheels turning when she tries to figure a puzzle out, or that sparkle of excitement when she sees something entertaining. Information is just thrown at their little brains visually and verbally and they try their best to take it all in. She has taught me that she can understand a lot more than I think she can. She has taught me to repeat things so she can try to understand what I’m saying and to use words that she can store in her memory so when she hears it again, she knows what it means. Motherhood has taught me to slow down and to get down on her level and have a conversation.
THEY LOVE TO MIMIC. They say imitation or copying is the highest form of flattery. Well..we are definitely in the stage where Nella will most likely repeat what we have said or copy any gesture, action or face we make. It’s mostly adorable, hilarious and entertaining but really has us watching what we say or do. We don’t cuss at all, but I am definitely aware of the words I use, how I use it and how my attitude is. She doesn’t understand complex situations, and why we choose the words we do but she understands more than I think she does. The other day, she came into the room and stopped to literally stare at the hydrangeas on the table and she called out, “The flowers are so pretty! Aww, I love them!” and came over to give me a hug. She said that whole phrase like she truly meant it, like someone has just given her flowers out of the blue, with that adored reaction. The day before that, she was playing with the Mother’s Day card “she” got me, and I told her that daddy helped pick it out and she said, “Aww, my daddy’s so sweet”. I mean really? Who teaches her this?! It felt like she was 2 going on 25. I try to make it a point to talk to her with meaning and purpose, explaining the situation because she learns so much and tries to reenact it later. Motherhood has taught me not only to watch what I say but why I say it and how I say it, and I truly believe when you stop to think about that, you can’t help but let it affect your feelings in that moment..and hopefully for the better.
THEY ARE STUBBORN. Or at least Nella is. I feel like Nella has always been pretty strong willed, even from her first few weeks of life. She’s certainly asserting herself these days. She knows what she wants, and she goes after it without deviation. She’s figuring out what she likes and what she doesn’t like and absolutely intends to make her feelings known. She doesn’t understand that we don’t do things or that we do things for a reason; thus, the push back. And we have definitely had our fair share of “selective hearing”, as I like to call her not listening, and our dramatic tantrums when she doesn’t get her way or usually when we tell her it’s time for bed. This is the season of life we’re walking through now, and we still don’t know if we’re handling these sensitive moments the “right” way but it usually involves raised voices, explanations of the why’s of the world (i.e. we need to brush our teeth so they stay healthy!), and tears. But it always ends in hugs and I love you’s. This is also the season in life where parents feel the need to express the right way of discipline. I’ve heard everything from “get on the floor and throw a tantrum so they see how ridiculous they look and won’t do it again”, to “spank them, they’ll learn to listen after a good spanking”, to “get on their level and reason with them” to “take away their toys.” Motherhood has taught me about patience, because I don’t think most kids act out because they are “bad” but because they are these little people trying to figure out what life is all about and with these new found freedoms, they need direction and sometimes very suggested guidance…
Our days are usually filled with these 3 lesson in life, so it’s no mystery as to why some days we are WIPED out, and I know, that’s only with 1 child. Some days I lose my patience, or I give in, or I don’t take time to explain everything. Some days Nella has no problem listening and I don’t have to repeat things 5 times over. Some days she gets ready for bed without a fight and some days I have to pick her body off the floor, tear soaked face, and carry her up the stairs kicking and screaming. Some days she wants nothing to do with her green beans or chicken and some days she can’t get enough. She days I’m too tired to do anything and we watch T.V. until it’s time for bed and some days we finish up dinner and we draw, read and play for the rest of the night. Some days I have the strength to answer every question she has about every little noise she hears and some days I tell her “Don’t worry about it.” Our days are also filled with several tightly-squeezed hugs and belly laughs. There’s a truckload of compassion in that tiny heart of hers and I see more of it every day, whether it’s asking me if I’m okay after she hears a loud noise in the kitchen, to giving Rhody hugs just because, to sharing some of her coveted favorite foods like seaweed, mango, and chicken.
At 2 months shy of turning 3 years old, Nella constantly has me learning about her, myself and what it means to be a mom in this stage of her life. It can be so trying some days but SO much sweet on others, and I am truly thankful the Lord has chosen me to live this role out.