He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress and for his children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

Saturday, November 30, 2013

What a difference a decade makes- or does it?

With school starting back for the big girls a few months ago,

this little mess pot and I have found ourselves with lots of quality time.

You know what I've realized as we've gone about our days?   I'm not a very good toddler mom anymore!  I'm not looking for reassurances here, just stating a simple fact.  There are all sorts of reasons I could offer, but I think the main one would be that a decade makes a pretty big difference in what our daily lives look like.  Now, not only am I a toddler mom, but I'm a teenager, tweenager, school ager AND toddler mom.  I have to tell you that there are days I feel like I have multiple personalities as I try to effectively jump between the needs that each age has to offer.

About a decade ago (give or take), it was just these two little munchkins and me....

Our days were fairly simple.  We played.  We crafted.  We read books.  We made tents.  We cooked.  We waited outside for Daddy's truck to come pulling up from work.  And I'm pretty sure I had spare time on my hands. (the fact that I made the dresses in the above picture is proof of that spare time!)

So now that it's just Anabelle and me at home together during the week, I've had several moments of thinking, "wow!  I'm not so good at this anymore!"  Not that I was ever GOOD at it, so to speak, but I was at least more energetic at 29 than I am at 39!  And possibly a bit more aware of things like Polly Pockets for a 2 year old potentially resulting in immense frustration....

(I mean, obviously I should know that Cinderella not being able to sit in the car WITH her big dress on would be a big problem...)

Anyway, yeah, not such a great toddler mom these days.  I went over to a dear friends house the other day.  She has 3 girls under 4 and it was craft central over there.  They had played play dough, done a little coloring, and there was evidence of several other toddler friendly projects throughout the house.  And I thought, "huh- poor Anabelle!"  We just don't do much of that kind of thing in our house these days!   That was my life 10 years ago, when AJ and Maddie were little, but not so much these days.

Don't get me wrong, Anabelle and I stay busy.
We clean the desert off of our back balcony at least once a week...

We fold laundry.

 We put up groceries. (very meticulously, I might add- that would be her doing, not mine- the neat rolls of paper towels and kleenex)

We build a "hair cut boat" to make the trim that I am REALLY not good at, more enjoyable for us both...

doesn't always work....

and we DO occasionally play...

But mostly, she is simply my companion for making sure our home doesn't internally combust in the midst of the busy-ness that is our lives.

A lot changes in a decade- too much, really.  I do wish I could freeze time and kiss the chubby toddler cheeks of each of my girls again, but we all know it doesn't work that way.  They grow older and have different needs, different concerns, different victories and setbacks.  And each is precious and should be savored.  Even if in the midst of any given moment you want to pull your hair out, and find yourself asking your 14 year old if she's "been potty" and telling your 2 year old to finish putting away the dinner dishes.  (anybody else experience the multiple personalities of parenting like I do?!)_

What hit me as I processed all of this, or to be more precise, what God whispered to my soul, is that, no, I may not be the best toddler mom anymore but IT'S OK!   There is a time and a season for everything, and my season for being "just" a toddler mom has passed.   He brought Anabelle into this stage of our family knowing exactly what our daily lives would look like.  He has given her 3 amazing big sisters who are much more fun than I probably ever was even in my 20s and I love the fact that they are playing such a big role in helping to shape her character and teach her about life.   So my job as mom is to keep my focus on Him and seek His best in my decisions for my girls,  and remember that although things may not always be perfect, because I'm surely not, they will at least be moving in the right direction.

I don't know about you, but one of my biggest struggles as a mom of toddlers, well, a mom of any age for that matter, is the temptation to fall into the comparison game- that much hasn't changed in a decade, but at least what I've learned along the way is that I simply cannot go there.

Stay tuned for more thoughts on raising toddlers and what I've learned mostly from messing up quite a few times.  I was going to list some things here, but nap time is almost over for the toddler in my house and the bus for the big girls is almost home from school, which means I need to be ready to listen to the verbal processing of the days of my 4 daughters in 4 very different stages of life-pray I don't get too confused!!

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