I thought a lot about falling in love. I pictured someone tall, dark and handsome. I imagined it would happen once, we would get married and we would live happily ever after. And I did meet someone tall, dark and handsome and I married him.
But then it happened three more times. There names are Quinn, Eleanor & Hudson. I guess I never could imagine this love. Who could?
I fall more and more love with them every.single.day.
There have been a couple times recently when Hudson has been napping and Quinn has been at school and Eleanor has been absorbed in play. Just busy being her. There was something so special about these moments that I just wanted to capture them.
You see, lately Eleanor has been your quintessential middle child, and she is two. She is smart as a whip and a little firecracker. All that makes her beautiful and bold has me using every ounce of patience on most days.
She is eager to please. Working hard on her manners and is full of love. She feels deeply.
In the midst of those tears and even at the very end of my rope, I fall more and more in love. I see so much strength and determination in her. I see her finding her place in the world–categorizing, labeling. I’m trying so hard to help her find that place.
I see her grow every.single.day. Using her words, sharing, showing kindness, having patience, showing empathy.
I’m blessed that I get to be her mom. That I have been entrusted with her. It isn’t a job I take lightly. I love her more then she will ever know. I love her sweet face, button nose, chubby hands, and soft skin. I love her voice and the cute way she mispronounces things or doesn’t get all the sounds just right. I love the way she looks at the world and embraces each day. I love the way she loves her brothers and her family.
But no matter how big I love her and how much I embrace all that she is, I still struggle. Parenting is hard. I want the best for her and figuring out exactly how to get that isn’t always easy.
There have been tears from her and from me. Guilt, there is always guilt. Was I too hard on her? Do I expect too much of her? She is only 2! I forget that. She is tall and smart, with a big vocabulary and good reasoning skills. She knows her letters and her numbers and her shapes and her colors and the sounds letters make and what words start with those letters. But those are concrete things and it isn’t the same as knowing and making sense of your heart and your place in the world.
Each kid is different, but I find strength in knowing I have done this before. These are the things I know. These things take practice and I have to be mindful of how I talk to my children.
Celebrate the good. “Good job using sharing words!”
Be specific! We don’t act like that. To a two year old, that means very little. We use walking feet and quiet voices in a store and we always remember our manners.
Tell them what they can do, what you can do. You can ask Quinn for a turn when he is all done. I can help you find something else to play with.
Love them. Hug and kiss and celebrate them. Say I love you.
I have to constantly remind myself it is me, not them.
I try to avoid battle of the wills or hard and fast rules that leave me on the losing side. I have to remind myself to take a deep breath, because more often then not my reaction to the situation is over half the problem. My outlook and the pep in my step sets the mood for the whole house. I need to remind myself that they are just kids. They don’t do what they do to be mean, or hurt me, or make my life hard. I try to always act out of love. They aren’t being bad, they are tired. They are hungry. They are frustrated. They have energy and it needs to go somewhere. I try to redirect and give them the tools they need to cope.
While Eleanor is extra needy right now, this is a phase. This too shall pass. While we are here, I will enjoy the extra snuggles and use this opportunity to guide her. In the midst of a meltdown Quinn gave me this look. I said to him, “You use to do this!” and he said, “But I don’t anymore!”. I smiled, because he was right and it gave me hope and because I couldn’t be more proud of the boy he has become. Maybe I’m not half bad at this after all.
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