To the woman I used to be before I had children:
You strive to be more present in the moment and to stop obsessing over the past and the future. You wish you could be a bit less self-conscious and completely disregard what other people think. You want to be able to push yourself to be a risk taker and to take on challenges even when you’re scared to. You hope you can become a more patient person – a woman who exudes calmness and serenity to those around you. You want to be the kind of person who can always put those she loves before herself.
I have good news! A teacher will arrive in your life. She will be a godsend and will grant you all that you wished for in your young adulthood. You may not realize it at the time because you will misunderstand the relationship and believe that you are the teacher at first, but in time, you will come to appreciate that she has shown you the way to all that you once hoped for.
This teacher will be very small, very loud, and will know how to get her point across.
This teacher shall be known as TODDLER.
TODDLER will demand your attention. This may come in the form of loud noises, running hugs, smashing kisses to various parts of your body, thrown food, cries of desperation, or various faces and actions that will be the most adorable things you have ever seen. You will have no choice but to be fully present and completely in the moment. The past will not matter. The future will not matter. The only thing that will matter at all to you is the present time where you will be able to focus on nothing but the toddler in front of you. It is zen. Just not as you anticipated it to be.
TODDLER will free you of all self-conscious feeling. When you are with this child, you will do anything for her. You will not be afraid to be silly. You will not hesitate to display affection. You will have no regard at all for what you look like. You will wipe bodily fluids on your clothes and find food in your hair and will burst loudly into the silliest song if that is what she needs or simply to encourage her laughter, a sound that you will do anything for.
TODDLER will push you take on challenges no matter how scared you are. You fear how well you can handle and help her with her ups and downs as she learns to navigate through her emotions and developing brain in places that seem to appreciate quiet or order, but you face this challenge down every day. You want to show your child all that life has to offer, so you do not let the expectations of others hold you back. You take toddler to all of the places you want her to see, and when her emotions are loud and piercing, you are strong and disregard the stares of others because you are a mama and will hug your child till she calms and will continue to proudly walk next to her after.
TODDLER will teach you to be patient – to accept moments for what they are and to find the beauty in them rather than pushing through always looking for the next best thing. Time is no longer something you have control over. Minutes can feel like hours, yet many days will not feel long enough. You relinquish the need to speed time up or slow it down so you can just be thankful – thankful for warm cuddles or tear-free moments or feelings of joy that you didn’t know were possible.
TODDLER will never allow you to put yourself first. You will now always be last, but rather than anger you, it will empower you. You may fall asleep utterly exhausted, dirty, and far from manicured, but you will sleep with satisfaction – no matter how brief that sleep might be. You will never doubt that you are loved and needed and doing something that feels more important than the wildest thing you ever dreamed you would be when you grew up. You will feel certain for the first time in your life that you are exactly where you were meant to be. You will feel whole, even though you never knew there was a piece of you missing until TODDLER arrived and filled that place. You are doing what you were meant for.
This will all come to you one day, my young and unsure self. She is coming to save you and be the teacher that you never knew you needed.
This article is a part of the Carnival of Natural Mothering hosted by GrowingSlower, Every Breath I Take, I Thought I Knew Mama, African Babies Don’t Cry, and Adventures of Captain Destructo. This month’s topic is What I Wish I Knew. Be sure to check out all of the participants’ posts through the links at the bottom of this page.