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I am at the point of motherhood where I am enjoying every minute of it, because I realised how quickly time has flown. Literally, this is what I was told by so many well-meaning people before. I secretly laughed inside thinking, "What a joke!" Well, that was when I was at the most sleep-deprived moment of my life.
Now, I am facing toddler years—the craziest, most terrible stage of childhood, as what some parents (kindly?) warned me in the past. I find it quite contrary, though. I think toddlers are enjoyable, bright, and fascinating! Yes, it's crazy, but a different kind of crazy! It's something that can make you wonder how your heart can handle so much love and happiness even in the midst of chaos. I can't lie about the hard times, the tantrums, breakdowns, and all the emotional helter skelter. I guess they are all part of growing up, it is even in every stage of life, not just in toddler years.
So what's the best thing about raising a toddler? There are a lot, actually. Let me start off with the unlimited cuddles. Oh, cuddles! They seem even more comforting and irresistible with these little creatures. I get them as I wake up in the morning, and just any time of the day for big reasons or just for being 'Mummy'. Family therapist Virginia Satir once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” I guess there isn't such thing as hug overdose, is there?
Having a toddler also made me gain new perspectives. It is surprising how much wisdom I earn from each innocent conversation. The constant curiosity about so many things also made me wonder, "Yeah, I haven't thought about that!" And then I began to discover and rediscover things that may just be so simple and basic that I never even bothered with before. I began to see simple things with new light. Rain, sunshine, snow, puddles, birds, all seem phenomenal. There is an opportunity to develop a better and deeper understanding of feelings and emotions, too.
Once, my two-year-old came up to me with a sullen expression. She tearfully said, "Ma, I feel unhappy."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because I'm sad. Hug me, Ma."
Initially, I wanted to laugh at our little silly conversation, but I looked at her face and saw a genuine sadness over something that she can't even distinguish. Aren't we grown-ups the same? We allow ourselves to be entangled with a myriad of negative emotions that spurt out one after the other. We can't even acknowledge the single emotion that caused our emotional chaos. I was proud of my girl for acknowledging her sadness even though she was unsure and for seeking a way out of it. Thankfully, mothers' hugs and kisses always do the trick.
Reflecting upon all the things I do as a mother, I gain more appreciation for my own mom. I see her with renewed respect and I am reminded of how much different and more difficult it was for her before. I never knew my own child would make me realise so many things about relationships and family in such a little span of time compared to all the years I have had before motherhood. I realised that I matter, my choices matter, my life matters. Everyday, my heart expands with love, more exquisite than I ever thought possible.
I still get cross with all the mess, tantrums, and naughtiness, by the way. 😉
(I haven't got one toddler, but two).