Every once in a while, I’ll have a day where I’m nearly overcome with love for Eli. I know it sounds just painfully cheesy and it feels that way too, but there are just days where all I want to do is kiss his little cheeks and tell him over and over how much I love him. Today was one of those days.
I think part of it is because we’re on the downhill side of a couple of tough weeks, behaviorally speaking. Eli is a very typical toddler. He wants to know where his boundaries are and what happens when he tests them. I know it’s normal and it is what he’s supposed to do, but it doesn’t make the parenting part of that any less tough. I know he needs rules and consequences, but sometimes it’s just exhausting to have days where it seems that the word no comes out more than anything else. And where all attempts at positive reinforcement and redirection are laughably useless.
Thankfully, the past few days have been good ones. Ones where we’re still maintaining the boundaries, but he’s comfortably living within them instead of slingshotting himself at them over and over to see how strong they are.
He’s just the coolest little person. Today I asked him what letter the letter E was and I know he knows it because he points it out everywhere and he just said, clear as day, “I don’t know.” He’s never said that before and I didn’t even know he knew what it meant. But he used it perfectly (I mean, aside from the part where he knows what letter E is). He seems to learn new things every day and it’s like every day is a treasure hunt to find the new stuff, to see how he has changed, how he has grown in the previous 24 hours.
When Eli first started daycare, I missed him fiercely. Like, cried myself to work, looked at pictures of him all day and just hated being away. And then we went through a bit of a transition where I really saw the benefit of daycare. We both did well with some time away, with our separate identities and our social interactions. But I almost feel like we’ve come full circle in a way. I miss him now, as much as I used to, but not in a sad way, just in the way where I wonder what he’s doing and saying and I want to be there to see it all. I’m not going to quit my job, but it really makes me feel more grateful for the days I get to stay home with him.
Watching him grow up is truly one of my greatest privileges.
I was warned about the toddler years and while I’ve only gotten the smallest taste so far, I know that the warnings are true. But I also know that the tough parts seem to make the rest of it seem so much better. It’s like, we had a tough week, I had to step up to the parenting plate and now that things have eased, I can sit back and see this incredible person again. I can see how smart and fun and joyful he is and it’s even better than it was a few weeks ago.
Just to put the cheesy icing on the cheesy feelings cake, all day I have been thinking about a line from A League of Their Own. I think in parenting, much like baseball (apparently?), “the hard is what makes it great.” If this is what toddlerhood is I am ready to embrace it with open arms. Even the hard, because the great is really, really great.