Three years of parenthood

A week from today, my daughter turns 3.  Like all parents, I’m left asking where the heck time has gone.  I really do feel like just yesterday she was in my belly squirming around.  Now she’s in my house running around, giving me running commentary, making me laugh, frustrating me sometimes, melting my heart many times and taking over my world so completely.  And there’s another baby starting to squirm around in my belly.

I’ve been thinking of being a parent and all the changes that have come in these last three years.  There are pros and cons to every situation.  Parenthood is the same.  The pros are so much greater than the cons (otherwise, there wouldn’t be another baby starting to squirm around in my belly!).  Sometimes it’s so incredibly good that I question how my husband and I lived so long without our daughter in our lives.  We were married just over 10 years when she was born.  It was perfect timing for us, but sometimes I marvel at how we existed for so long without this extra love and happiness.

My sweetheart sitting like her dog as they both watched the trash truck go up and down the road last week. Too much cuteness!

There are times when my daughter says to me things like, “You’re the bestest mommy in the world” or “You’re the prettiest lady in the land”  and my heart melts.  Of course the absolute best is, “I love you,” especially when she pipes up with it on her own and isn’t just saying it back to me.  And there are the giggles when my husband tickles her or I spin her around.  Those melt my heart, make me smile and make me giggle.  And there are the sweet pretend games I hear where she’s mimicking one of us caring for her.  And there are the random cuddles she wants (even if sometimes they are to delay her doing something we’ve asked her to do like sit back down in her chair at mealtime).  And there are the moments where she gently pets our dog when he’s not feeling well and says the very things we say to her like, “I know, buddy.  I’m sorry,” just to try and make him feel better.

And other times I think of some of the things I’ve lost.  Saturday mornings are no longer reserved for lounging in bed with my husband.  I’ve always been a morning person, so I didn’t always sleep in, but I loved lying beside him, reading a book while he slept.  Now one of us is up with the kiddo (usually me because of the aforementioned morning person disposition I have) and reading books is nearly a foreign concept.  I also must now share my food, even if it is the last piece of candy that I was saving for a rough day (that is unless I sneak it into the bathroom or save it for nap time — don’t judge.  I’m pretty sure all mothers of toddlers/preschoolers do this kind of stuff).  I plan even more than before (and I’ve always been a planner) to make sure that I get my errands done in the morning primetime after breakfast, before lunch and nap.  And this is much easier now that she has one late afternoon nap a day that can be optional.  It was much trickier when she took both a morning and afternoon nap.

Other things have come with motherhood that I didn’t really expect.  I didn’t expect to question myself as much as I do.  I questioned myself a lot early on — a whole lot in fact.  I’ve found much more confidence now (plus, it helps that my kiddo has been old enough to tell me why she’s upset for a long time now).  I’ve gotten to know my child and myself as a mom.  But, there are still times when I question whether I’m doing the right things.  I love Lexiana to the very inner core of my being.  She deserves all the best in this world.  And, yet, she has me for her mom.  Don’t get me wrong.  I try to do my best, but at the same time, even my best isn’t perfect.  I pray daily that my husband and I be the kind of parents our kids need to raise them according to God’s will for their lives.  I try to remember to trust Him.

Just this week, for example, I was thinking about how much my daughter really enjoys other people.  She thrives around others.  It’s a completely foreign concept to me.  I’m not a hermit, but I’m definitely an introvert.  I thrive in alone time.  I recharge by myself.  She seems to be completely the opposite.  I wonder how that’s going to work as she grows up.  I want to encourage her to be herself and thrive as the person God has created her to be.  How in the world am I going to successfully raise such an extroverted child?  Do I provide her enough outside interaction now?  Her friend circle is pretty limited and close to nonexistent.  Am I already failing her?  All these sorts of things run through my head.  For this particular moment this week, I just stopped myself short.  I prayed for God’s help.  At that moment, she came over for a cuddle from me.  I felt God saying, “Just love her.”  Isn’t that the best a parent can do in any situation with any child?  Just love.

And then there are times when I question if she could use a more crafty mom.  I love Pinterest 99 percent of the time.  I’ve gotten great recipe ideas from the site.  And I’ve gotten good kiddo activity ideas from there.  But sometimes I feel like I’m not giving my all as a mom and should be doing more.  I end up at blogs that give suggested activities I know I’d never do with my child.  One I came across this week was 31 activities to do in October.  The blogger planned to try one a day with her kids.  I looked at the ideas.  Of course I want to inspire, enrich and enhance my daughter’s life.  But, holy moly!  None of the ideas seemed like anything I’d have time or interest in doing.  Will my daughter suffer because of this lack of craftiness?  I don’t think so.  I hope not.  We don’t do crafts at home regularly.  We do them at the library every week (thank goodness for Miss Cinda and her creativity!).  She’ll do crafts when she goes to preschool next year.  I try to remember if I did crafts with my own mom.  I’m sure I did, but I don’t think we had any sort of regular schedule.  I turned out mostly fine.  I love my mom.  The same will be true for my kiddo and me, right?  I don’t have to beat myself up because I’m not the same kind of mom as another.  (And, hats off to the crafty moms!  I respect you, but I don’t always understand where you’re coming from.)

I’ve learned a lot in my crash course on parenting these last three years.  I know I have a whole lot more to learn.  My parenting will change in January when the baby is born.  It will continually change as my children do.  I know someday some of the cons to parenting that I have right now, like always having to share my snacks, will go away.  I try to remind myself that one day I’ll miss this.  And I know some of the pros will also go away.  My daughter won’t ask for random cuddles for a whole lot longer.  Maybe that’s why sometimes I indulge her cuddles more than I ought to.  I don’t want to miss a single one.  I don’t have to remind myself that one day I’ll miss those cuddles.  I know I will.  Those tiny arms around me are the best feeling in the world.

Parenthood has changed my life for sure.  My life is definitely busier and harder than it once was.  My life is no longer about me, yet I have a whole new way to doubt myself.  I have whole new sets of worries about things like college funds, playground safety, carseats and so much more.  But, my life is so much richer and better than ever before.  Three years into this parenthood journey and I’m so thankful to be on this ride.  One smile from my curly-haired redhead, one sweet “I love you” at random, one cuddle in the middle of doing dishes just because — all these things make the journey so incredibly sweet.

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