Don’t Give Up in the Toddler Years

Dear friend

Yesterday I took one look at you and saw myself, eight or ten years ago.

You had the Mom-Of-Toddler look. The spent, desperate, exasperated, close-to-tears Mom-Of-Toddler look. And that was *after* two weeks at the sea. Which was supposed to be a holiday except it wasn’t because all you did was chase and chastise and change another nappy and keep your kids from burning or drowning or dying in general.

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You didn’t tan. Read. Stroll. Sleep. Those things are part of a life you broke up with and it doesn’t look like you’re ever getting back together.

But please hear me, friend –

Don’t Give Up.

It’s hard to see this – but the toddler years are God’s kindness to us as parents. Because –

Your Kids Will Never Again Be This Cute

They’ll discover their full volume and use it to express their preferences. They’ll test your limits and embarrass you in the shops and deprive you of sleep.

But oh my word they will never again be this cute. Drink in their adorableness – great gulps! – every moment you can! – until it soaks your weary spaces and you’re grateful again they’re yours to have and to hold.

On a scale of zero to pure poetry, my toddlers were off-the-charts cute. This was God’s kindness to *them* – because they stretched me thin in all the ways toddlers do and if they hadn’t been so cute I may have killed them.

You Get to Repent

It’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. So toddlering is totally His kindness to us, yes? Because small humans will show us parts of our hearts we hadn’t yet had cause to come across. Tender, nurturing parts. Dark, angry parts.

Repent. Be restored. Be free. Be at peace. It’s a brand new day crammed with mercy. It’s never too late to start again.

You Get to Create Culture and Character

The toddler years are hard. So much judgment and comparison and impossible cliffs to climb to arrive at impossible, Pinterest-y, Instagram-able standards.

I remember someone telling me I was too lenient. I gave my toddlers too much choice. I should just TELL THEM what to eat-wear-do-think.

Someone else told me I was too strict. (This may be because I arrived at a birthday party with the wooden spoon still in my jeans back pocket. The comment probably saved me from imminent arrest.)

But at some point I had to back myself. I had to trust that the God who gave me my kids could easily have given them to someone else. But He didn’t. I had to trust He would give me wisdom to shape their souls. And He’d already gone ahead of me – powerful enough to compensate for all my hang-ups and mess-ups.

Parenting is an unparalleled opportunity to channel God’s truth through your family’s gifts and rhythms, to create a culture under your roof that glorifies Him. It’s His Kingdom-building blueprint – for the aroma of our homes to attract and intrigue and lead people to the conclusion of Christ.

Every phase of parenting is tough. They say small feet, small problems… My boys are both wearing shoe sizes bigger than mine, so we’re by no means out of the parenting woods. Indeed no parent should ever be resting on laurels. (Though I daresay, a time will come when you’ll once again be resting on holiday.)IMG-20200102-WA0004IMG-20200102-WA0009But on the days when your little ones have run you ragged and there’s no sign of victory:

Be patient. Hang in there. Keep making deposits of time, kindness and courage. Admit your mistakes – to your kids, to yourself. Lean in with love. Stand firm on the truth.

Before long, tantrums turn into banter. Discipline becomes dialogue. Constant correction gives way to conversation. They’ll be standing on their own two feet – not just stamping them. IMG_20191231_174144.jpgIMG_20200104_101823Consistently and prayerfully, keep watering the world-changing, future-shaping seeds you’re planting.

They’re germinating in the dark.

Before long, you’ll reap.

All my love

Dee

. . .

Happy weekend to you!

Please share this post with the parents of a toddler you love!

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7 comments

  1. Thank you for this. So much truth and so beautifully written. Thank you Mom of older kids for passing us the wisdom you have gained.

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