Happy birthday! As you sit and watch your precious little baby start to stuff that sugary rich cake in his mouth, you can’t help but think back on the last three years and just take it all in. This is so exciting! Your child just became what some affectionately call a threenager. Congratulations!
Now comes the year of teaching your little one the good things in life, counting, the ABCs, and potty training (if you haven’t already). You know the things. No one has it easy when their child turns three years old. First you have to accept that your cute little bundle of joy is no longer a baby in any way. Second, you have to learn the art of anticipating the tantrums, the whining, the endless rounds of “why? Why? WHY?” The heart attacks, grins, tears, and belly laughs when your child explores more and more of their world, which come with its endless supply of boo boos that need kisses and hugs to feel better. And don't forget the endless supply of laughs, adventures, and funny stories to tell for years to come. And, of course, now your little one is growing out their vocabulary so they can tell you what they want now. At the top of their lungs... and repeatedly.
This is also the time if you haven’t already to start pushing into that potty training stuff. Since most kids now days are expected to have it down by 2.5 years of age, that is a lot of pressure if your child hasn't even shown an interest in it yet. This can translate to a lot of pressure on your 3-year-old to learn what that big white swirling bowl of fun is really for. And don't get me started on the messes to be cleaned up when life gets too busy to remember the training schedule; you thought it got messy before! Ha!
If your child is in a daycare or a really good private child care provider (or let’s face it, Grandma), then chances are your child has been indoctrinated into the practices of the potty already. If so you luckily don’t have to worry about it. But some kids are more stubborn than others and take their own time to learn these things.
Oh, and don’t forget, pre-K is only a year away!
It is enough to drive anyone a little crazy!
But before you go completely over the edge, it's bedtime! Oh, sweet relief! Rev up that story and sing the songs and thank all that's good when those little eyes finally close.
As a wise lady once told me, insanity is genetic, you get it from your kids.
Now throw in a full-time job, a boss who is a jerk, an ex who doesn't quite understand how parenting works, dealing with your child care provider (whoever that is), and suddenly it is a lot to handle. Specially if your still single. Let’s be honest a single parent doesn't have it easy when it comes to... pretty much anything. So how to handle all this stress?
Don’t worry, before you go thinking you are doing something wrong. Just remember, pretty much every mother has gone through what you're feeling. It gets pretty hard sometimes but don’t forget to give yourself a break and keep that bottle of wine handy, or that chocolate, or whatever helps you relax after bedtime to congratulate yourself for another day you and your child are alive and you get another shot at it all tomorrow.
Don’t forget that everywhere you look, there is a mother who is, or has, gone through exactly what you are going through today. Don’t feel bad about having to ask for advice, even if its google sometimes. Though you probably don’t have to look that far away from home. Your child is a mini version of you, so who better to know all about you than your own family?
Take a deep breath. Laugh through the good times, cry through the bad times. But take it all a day at a time. Everyday will have something to make you laugh, cry, drive you crazy, and make you feel blessed all at the same time.
The other day my quick trip to the store, that normally lasts maybe an hour and a half, took about three hours; my son had to stop in every isle of the store and say "Hi!" to every single person there. It was hilarious, frustrating, and impossibly cute. I've never had a better shopping trip. The usual sower faces were replaced by smiles, laughs, sympathetic sharing between parents with small kids, and warm greetings from total strangers who were obviously touched by my son's open friendly greetings. It reminded me that sometimes all we need in life is a small ray of sunshine to brighten things up.
Even on the hardest days there is always a blessing or two to be found.
Live, laugh, and love.