Encouragement for moms of babies, toddlers and preschoolers
This is an interesting blog post to share, because I started it when I had a toddler and preschooler then finished it recently having a 7- and 10-year-old. But I wanted to share this hybrid of encouragement for moms of babies, toddlers and preschoolers.
Living in the fray
I’ve been thinking lately about what I will want to remember to say to mothers of young children when my children are grown. This has come up because I’ve been thinking of what I would appreciate hearing right now from other people, like the older lady behind me in line at the grocery store this week who saw me juggling a sippy cup, snack cup, my purse, our grocery bags, my debit card, a whole slew of groceries and my toddler then just gaped at me and pushed forward as soon as she could so I wouldn’t waste her time.
The tricky thing for the store at which I was shopping is that you have one cart to start with then have to switch to another when you check out. It’s not a horrible setup, but it is tricky when you have a child strapped into that cart. Well, maybe not tricky, but it just takes a bit of extra time.
And, in all fairness, I have no clue what the lady behind me had going on in her life. Maybe she was in a hurry to get back to a sick spouse or parent or any slew of difficulties. But, I’ve been thinking about what I want to remember to say in the future when I’m looking at a mom with a young child running herself in circles trying to keep everyone where they need to be while buying their food.
Chances are pretty great that I’m never going to turn into an extrovert who chats up every stranger she meets. So, realistically what I will say will be something along the lines of: “Can I help you?” or “Don’t hurry. Take your time. I’ve been there, done that.”
In fact, a couple of months ago an older lady said that exact statement to my husband and me as we were keeping her standing in the cold, blocking her car door while wrangling the toddler into his carseat and strapping the preschooler into hers. Her grace made my evening better.
And that encouragement for moms is what I want to extend when my little ones are older. Heck, that’s what I want to extend to them now when we’re in the trenches together. Just know that when I say just a few words or offer a smile as your child is having a meltdown or you are making people wait an extra two minutes in line while getting everything situated, what I really mean is this:
From a fellow mom of itty bitties
Calm down. I’ll wait for you. I understand what you’re going through. It’s hard just to get everyone ready and out the door. I know you had to stay up late even figuring out what food to make your family next week and what you needed from the store because otherwise there would be no time to concentrate or contemplate such things while getting little bodies fed and changed and cleaned and combed and bundled up to leave the house.
Take your time and know that one day it will be easier. One day you won’t have a toddler doing his best to put his sippy cup on the conveyor belt to pay for it and then getting mad because suddenly he no longer has it in his hand. And it will be easier to shop.
For now, though, fellow mama, don’t rush yourself. Don’t worry and fret on my account. Just relax and let me help you load your groceries while you take care of your kiddos. You will make it. You’re doing a great job. See? No one is screaming (at least not any longer). No one is bleeding. Everyone is actually pretty content. Don’t worry. You’ll get lunch made on time and the preschooler off to her class on time. You’ve got this. I see you being pushed to your limits and not giving in.
From a mom in the middle
Know that while this time is incredibly stressful and sometimes, quite frankly, makes you want to run away, that it is also precious. Once day you’ll look at other moms in the same situation you’re now in and remember these days with fondness.
But, that also doesn’t make them any easier now. Enjoy the sweet moments and embrace them. Give extra cuddles and hugs in lieu of scrubbing your kitchen counter.
However, also give yourself grace. Sometimes you’re going to lose your temper and yell. You’ll want to pull your hair out wondering if your toddler will ever be potty trained. (He will!) You may have to apologize to your children or give yourself a time-out to sit in the bathroom alone for two minutes and regroup. It’s OK. It’s normal. You’re doing a great job.
Hang in there, mama. Each phase has its own challenges and joys. You are going to make it. And if I can make your life easier with a smile or understanding look, if I can help you as you struggle to balance all the things you must take with you when you leave the house, I will.
Because, mama, my babies are older now. I’m not in the baby, toddler or preschool phase any longer. I’m right in the middle with a 7 and 10-year-old, but I so very much remember the challenges of those days. Hang in there and rock your mama journey in all its messiness and frustration!