8 Life Lessons I Learned From My Toddler

DSC_0403 (2)I now have a three year old!  I can’t believe it!  Sometimes I feel like I am looking at someone else’s life. I honestly was never the girl that dreamed of the kind of kids she would have, and even if I would have kids. I never thought about what kind of mother I would be. I honestly really never liked kids, and if I’m being honest, I’m still not crazy about other people’s kids (I do like most of my friends’ children, most of the time). Sometimes I wonder if I am a good enough mother. Sometimes I’m lazy. Sometimes I get impatient or frustrated and yell or say things I shouldn’t say. In spite of all that, I believe I am the perfect parent for my children. And more and more, I understand a little of the unconditional love our heavenly Father has for us.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11

God has a plan for me and for my children, this I know. I have to remind myself almost every day. There are days when my beautiful Sophia is very tiring and challenging and exhausting. She is headstrong and fiercely independent. (I can’t imagine where she picked up that personality trait!.. Must be from her daddy. 🙂 )   She has taught me so much in her short 3 years of life!

Lesson 1: Sometimes you need to just be silly.

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Sophie is a jokester. We used to ask her, “What color is this?”  For awhile, the only thing she would respond with was “Orange!”  She knew the colors! That was her 2 year old self teasing us!  Another joke she says, “I’m BeBe”, or I’m “Uncle Matt”, and then now she follows it with “You’re Daddy”, or “You’re Max” (Max is our dog!)  She has a mischievous little glint in her eye while she’s saying these things too. Sophie loves to be tickled. She loves being thrown up in the air, loves hide and seek. If we can’t go outside, she will run in circles around our dining room table. She makes me laugh.

We need to let ourselves laugh. We need to remember what it was like to just be silly.

Lesson 2: Be Persistent!

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This past summer, we made the transition to a big girl  bed. Now that she can get out of bed freely, she will literally knock or bang stuff on the door. It’s really quite funny and difficult to not go back to her room. She is a world champion at bedtime stalling!  I have to give her props for creativity. “I need some water!” “Lie down with me!” (with big blue pleading eyes!), “I need to put my babies to sleep”. “I need to read” . She even uses prayer time as a means to stall her bedtime. If we have taken away story and song time because she is not listening, then she pulls the prayer card. She knows mommy wants her to pray!

The point is: While we don’t need to  give in to our children’s every demand, we can learn from their persistence.  If you want something, keep trying! Don’t let a few no’s (or a few hundred) stop you from pursuing your passions or dreams.

Lesson 3: Sometimes you just need to let it out!

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Oh, we have had our share of tantrums and fits!  Screaming in a restaurant, screaming in the store, you name it, we have had it.  How about the time she laid down at the train station, no wait, the cell phone store, no, the consignment store, and just had a textbook tantrum and sit down!  Oh, yes, my Sophie has a temper.

And talk about drama! Once, after a trip to the community pool, Sophie fell and scratched her knee while walking back to our car. Drama central!  After the drama settled, she wanted a Dora band aid, but when I tried to put it on her knee, she screamed. Then she just held it the whole ride home.

Okay, so maybe you and I are past the tantrum phase, but don’t you want to just let it all out and scream and stomp your feet and cry sometimes?!  Well, maybe we can’t scream and stomp our feet (unless you are completely by yourself, then I say, go for it!). However, it is  probably not the best example to teach our children in order to launch them into functional adults.  However, it is okay to accept a hug or want someone to kiss your hurt away. It’s okay to dry your tears on someone else’s shoulder. The point is: Stop being so independent! It is OKAY to ask for help. It’s okay to cry.

Lesson 4:  Sometimes a girl just needs to look good.

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Sophie  loves trying on shoes. I can’t tell you how many times I would walk in her room after nap time to find shoes and clothes, and toys EVERYWHERE!  She would take hair bands and use them as necklaces or for awhile she was attached to hats. She would wear them constantly, even sleeping with them.

Sometimes you just need to dress up a little. We should dress up, not to impress others, but just to remember how beautiful we are.

Lesson 5:  Life is about what happens everyday in the little moments!

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For all of Sophie’s challenges and tantrums, there are more than enough sweet moments. Like the time when she handed me my tucks during my pregnancy with our son (both embarrassing and sweet), or how she is with her baby brother, constantly loving on him, kissing him, and helping me mother him. Or when she spontaneously gives me a kiss or “helps” with chores (she can help unload the dishwasher and put clothes in the dryer! Sometimes she even sweeps! She loves to hold the dustpan for me!). Or how she “cooks” with her pretend food. How she loves to make baby brother laugh and share stories and tummy time with him. Or how she tugs at our heart strings every time she asks us to lie down with her. Or the times when she asks for a “big hug”.  Once, after I gave William his  bath, I turned my back for one second, and next thing I knew Sophie was bathing her baby dolls. All Ican do sometimes is laugh.

For all the bad moments there are 10,000 more good ones. We  can learn from the bad moments, but we need to cherish the good moments. After all, people don’t usually take pictures of the bad moments (although I think that is warranted sometimes!). Our pictures are of the happy moments. You don’t usually remember the tantrums and attitude between the pictures.

Lesson 6:  Life is Messy!

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Life is Messy.  From throwing up in the doctor’s office and in the car and all over me. (all three of these happened last year!), life is messy. From snotty noses and ear infections, life is messy. From spilled drinks and dumped over cheerios, life is messy. (thank goodness for dogs!). From tear stained faces to skinned knees and new scars, life is messy. From emptying out all the drawers to emptying the toy boxes, life is messy.  Life is Messy! Let it go and keep making messes!

Lesson 7:  Celebrate the little successes!

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My Sophie finally went poo in the potty! It has been a long time coming! I dare say, we may be done buying pull-ups! (at least day time ones) If you are a mom, you know how exciting this is! It was all I could do to restrain myself from posting it all over social media! I did text almost all my close friends and family! We celebrated this feat with ice cream and a toy.

That’s how toddlers are, they celebrate little things, like putting their shoes or pants on all by themselves. Or finally figuring out how to open the doors! Or putting that last puzzle piece together. Let’s take a lesson from our toddlers and celebrate the little successes. Like doing prayer/bible time even once or twice a week. Or maybe it is making it somewhere on time! How about getting noticed for a job well done. Picking up a few pieces of trash (that’s one less piece of trash!) Or finally learning to parallel park. Perhaps, it is making one person smile. Or making it to bed on time. Or making it through the day without killing your children.

Little successes add up to make a big difference!

Lesson 8: You are capable of so much more than you realize!

Do you know how many times Sophie has done things  I didn’t think she knew how to do?  Like the time she opened our screen door and walked outside, BY HERSELF with the dog! (we have no fence and we live on a steep hill!) Or the time she started drinking out of a regular cup.  Or  the time when I walked into her room and she had figured out a way to pull off items from the top of the dresser!  They are capable of so much more than we give them credit for!

And so are you!  Don’t sell yourself shot. Believe in yourself!

 

Yes, this year has taught me so much. It’s taught me that this parenting stuff is hard, that life is hard, and marriage is hard As the cliché goes, anything hard is worth doing!  I said at the beginning that I didn’t really like kids, but I LOVE my children. I love my Sophie and everything she is and everything she stands for. I love her just because. She is a gift. One that I do not deserve.

To my Sophia: rbp-42

I love you and everything you are and everything you have taught me, and everything you stand for. You have taught me so much more about love and life than I ever imagined.  You are uniquely wonderful and beautiful. God has a plan for you! I don’t know what it is yet, but it will big! Bigger and more wonderful than I or you daddy can imagine!

 

What are some lessons you have learned from your life experiences? I would love for you to share your stories!

Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, don’t forget to share!

 

 

 

 

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What You Don’t Know About Your Mother: Five questions you may have never thought to ask

bjwpf 025Being as it’s Mother’s Day, it is only appropriate to remember all mothers, not only on this day, but every day.  While the holiday has been commercialized, it is important to note that it was originally meant to celebrate mothers and their sacrifices for their children, as well as to celebrate family relationships. (http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mothers-day)  As part of that celebration, I would like for you to pause and think about your own mother. Think of her as a person and woman, not just your mother. Yes, she raised you and undoubtedly gladly sacrificed for you, but she is still a woman and not just as your mother. Before you, she had her own life, her own dreams and aspiratons, her own likes and hobbies. Perhaps she shared those with you, but if you are like me, you were too self absorbed to consider that part of your mother’s life. So here Is a list of questions to ask your mother, to learn about her and celebrate who she is as a mother and a woman:

1. If you had one day to only do what you want to do, what would it be?  (when you find out the answer, remember the answer, as it would make a wonderful gift for mother’s day or any day!)

2. What is your least favorite chore to do?

3. What are your favorites in everything? (food, flowers, color, hobbies, etc…)

4. What is one thing that you wish you had accomplished before children that perhaps you were not able to achieve for whatever reason?

5. What are some of your favorite memories? (either before having you or after!)

There are countless questions you could ask. I learned the following lesson from my mother: No matter your age, remember to try and seek the other side. There is always a reason that people are the way they are or do the things they do. Sometimes we just need to ask and try on the other person’s shoes.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there and mothers to be!

IT ONLY TAKES ONE

2012, Three Amazing women standing next to me . Expecting my first child.

2012, three AMAZING women standing next to me , expecting my first child.

One of my original goals for this blog was to interview every day women in order to inspire and encourage all of us living our extraordinary ordinary lives. For my first extraordinary story, I think it would be best to start with those who inspire me on a daily basis. To start within my circle of friends and family and move outward is an obvious choice for me. I am very fortunate to have a loving and supportive family and in-laws. I know not everyone is as fortunate. So who is the main woman in my life, present, past, and future. That constant has always been my mother.

Here are some of the extraordinary things you may or may not know about her:

She traveled abroad as a teenager.

She raised three children with ages between 1 and 4 years on a very tight budget. We were never without, but I do remember her having to put things back in the grocery store. As a mother myself now, I can only imagine how stressful that would have  been.  We never had name brand clothes.  We didn’t go on lavish vacations or have a lavish house. We had three bedrooms and one shower for five people (four being female!) But we had a home, and that is where my many memories lie. I only mention these things because as a mother myself now, I realize how easy it is to overlook the most important thing in our lives: GOD  That one word encompasses the rest of the world: our families, relationships, jobs, and everyday lives. To truly understand the importance of the listed things, one must have God. For without God, there is no love.

When my mother was in her late teens or 20s, she moved to a small town in Arkansas, hundreds of miles away from her hometown. That is always brave .I have done the same thing myself. I have never regretted my decisions, but there are definitely times when I wish all my family was closer.

My mother was the oldest of 6, the youngest sibling being 18 years younger than her. (I think that one may have been a surprise). I fought with my two sisters, I can’t imagine fighting with 5 siblings.

She led girl scouts for years, of which many of my most joyful memories and friendships were developed.  She was also a Sunday school teacher for years. I know she imparted so much joy and memories to so many young girls. That’s a hero in my book.

One of the most admirable things she did was moving away from her childhood home. To choose a different life than the only one you have ever known takes bravery.  It is on that point that I wish to expand. I hope her story inspires you to be brave and to take that unknown step if that is what is called for in your life.

Have you ever felt alone or that you didn’t fit in anywhere? Have you ever had a stirring in your heart, but you don’t know what it is or where it is coming from? Have you ever wondered if there is more to life? That’s where this story begins:

There was once a young college lady living in a small town. She had lived in that town her whole life, that is the only thing she knew. Then her life started changing. She had just broken up with her fiancée. Her heart is breaking, she’s confused, there is more to life, there has to be.  A friend who left for a far away college comes home for a visit. She tells you how great things are at her college, the friendships, the fellowship, the distance. Oh, the distance. She thinks to herself how that distance might just be what she needs. Her friend tells her to pray. PRAY? What is that, I don’t know what that means? But God knows her heart and her prayers.  “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do no know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26 -27 NIV

With unknown faith and courage, she takes a step, 700 miles a away. She is already lonely, lost. But there is something compelling her to this unknown place and world. Once there, she finds friendship, and she finds a friend in Jesus. She finds the courage to be different. She gave her life to Christ. The sacrifices are worth it because she understands the value of showing her children God’s love.

Do you relate to this story? Know there is an answer. God made you, he has a plan for you. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

It only takes one person to make a difference in countless lives. We may not always see the effects, but they are there. Think about the friend who shared Jesus in this story. Though she may have thought she only made a difference in one woman’s life, she made a difference in many. You see the woman whose life was changed went on to marry a Christian man, they had three beautiful daughters. Their daughters had children, and the story is not over. That’s not even counting the ways in which she touched young girls’ hearts who then went on to touch others’ lives. In our culture, we like to see immediate results, but that is not always how God works. You don’t always see what he is doing in your life , but he is working. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

I’m reminded of the children’s bible song, “He’s still working on me”:

He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He’s still working on me.

There really ought to be a sign upon the heart,
Don’t judge her yet, there’s an unfinished part.
But I’ll be perfect just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master’s loving hand

God’s work is not finished. It only takes one drop. We do the sowing. God does the growing. Your don’t always see the fruits of your seeds, but they are there. Know you are not alone. God is with you. He is waiting with arms wide open. Waiting for you.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7: 7-8 (NIV)

Weekly Moments: January 4th – 10th, 2015

So this week to change things up a bit, (and because I was not very good at observing my moments this week; I guess we all have those weeks.) I thought I would share with you 7 of the most amazing women in my life. (not in order of importance)

1. My mom. I would not be the person I am today without her. We’ve had our struggles (particularly when I was a bratty smart mouth teenager), and we still do at times (as I suppose all mothers and daughters do). She is amazing. She raised three daughters (at one point all under the age of 5, two under the age of 3). She moved from Illinois to go to college in Arkansas away from all her family. She then met my dad in college. They provided us with an amazing childhood full of birthday parties, girl scouts, vacations, baking cookies, and many more of which I could write pages upon pages.

2. My eldest sister, Andria. She was my hero growing up, the person whom I looked up to most. At about 4 years apart, I thought she was the most beautiful person; I wanted to be just like her (probably to her annoyance). She has been through so much in her life of which I could  never understand. She has also had some amazing accomplishments: Master’s degree, Nationally board certified teacher, just to name a few. About 6 years ago, She also moved to a new town where she knew virtually nobody but me and my boyfriend (now husband) and her now husband. 🙂 More on that another day.

3. My 2nd eldest sister, Jamie. We are 15 months apart. (I do not know how my mother did that especially after having a baby of my own. I would have freaked!). We shared a room most of our lives and fought like cats and dogs. But when push came to shove, we were always there for each other. Now  she is one of my best friends.  I could not be more proud of her right now. She is about to graduate from college in May. She works full time, takes care of two kids, is married, and is going to school basically full time. She is a living testament to the word determination.

4. My lifetime friend, Amy. Friends since we were toddlers (so our parents say), we were never far apart till I left for college. We have drifted as most friends do, but she is the one non- family member I make an effort to see when I am in my home town. (More a testament to her than my lack of efforts to see other very worthy people). She is,  without a doubt, one of the strongest women I have ever known. I hope to share her story (with her permission) one day.

5. My Grandma Johnson. She passed away April 2013, right as I was driving down to visit and introduce her to her newest great granddaughter. Again, I must cherish our 21st century face-time, as that was the only time she was able to see Sophie’s little face. She passed away before we got to her town. She was an amazing woman with stories to be told that I may never know myself. She lived to be in her 80s. It always amazed me how sharp her mind was and that she was still visiting nursing homes in her 70s. I have some great memories of the pies she made, the games she played with us, and many more memories. My daughter has part of her name. I only hope I can share the legacy of that name.

6. My mother-in-law, JoAnne. We recently lost her to a fight with cancer in late July. It still breaks my heart that she will not be able to be with our Sophie and any future children. She loved being a grandmother. She was a woman of great service, hospitality and love. Even in her illness, she had a servant’s heart.  I can only hope to impart her love to Sophie so that she will never be forgotten.

7. This last one is for my daughter, who I can only pray will be as amazing as our God will allow. She is amazing now in how she has changed my world and inspired me to love more and to be more bold in my living. It is such a huge responsibility to raise a child, at which I am only succeeding  by the grace of God. She lights up a room and fills my heart with silliness and love.

There  are many more amazing women (and men) in my life of which I hope to share their stories one day.  Remember to take the time to tell those that are important in your life how much they mean to you . One day will be our last day. Let them know, either by mouth or letter, but let them know soon.

Matthew 5:16 (ESV): In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

2006, My sister, Jamie, pregnant with her firstborn

2006, My sister, Jamie, pregnant with her firstborn

2012, Three Amazing women standing next to me . Expecting my first child.

2013, Three Amazing women standing next to me . Expecting my first child.