Guest Blog: An Open Letter to Mothers of Toddlers (The Crazy Kind)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Today's GUEST BLOG is written by a good friend of mine, Stephanie. Not only is she an incredible writer, but she is a mama of four! You can follow her talent at A Wide Mercy and visit her Facebook Page to keep up with what's new.

Dear Mother of a Crazy Toddler,

I swear, it's not you. And it does get easier.
It took me a while to have kids. My husband and I were married just out of college, but my husband traveled for work, and we put off children for a while. When we were ready, I had the shock of my life when I realized most of what I learned in high school health class was a scare tactic, and it's actually NOT that easy to get pregnant. A year later I had a miscarriage that shattered my heart. A year after THAT, I found out I was pregnant. Thirty nine long weeks, twelve hours of labor, and one emergency c-section later, I was finally a mother.
My son, for whom I'd dreamed and cried and waited, was finally here.
Eighteen months later, his little brother surprised us all.

All of that to say, I wanted to be a mother. I waited to be a mother. I cried and prayed to be a mother. And when I finally got to be a mother, I was in waaaayy over my head.
All toddlers are busy. It's the nature of the beast. Their little minds are absorbing the world, one handful at a time, just as they are meant to do. But one of my sons was the crazy kind of toddler.  

When he was eleven months old he broke an "indestructible" outlet, pushed aside the plug, and was digging wires out of the wall when I found him (which was probably ninety seconds after I'd left the room).  
When he was three he woke up before dawn, scaled the kitchen cabinets while we were all asleep, and ate half a bottle of Tums. He has played in lighter fluid, been trapped inside a kitchen stool (his grandpa sawed him out while his grandma was on the phone with 911), and jumped headlong into a swimming pool after taking off his life jacket, when he couldn't swim. I used to point out danger to him, but when I realized adventure glinted in his eye any time he said, "I could DIE," I stopped using those words.
For three years my daily goal was to keep them both alive. I still can't believe we made it.
At the time, I wondered what I was doing wrong. Like Emily, I wondered, "Is it like this for everyone?" The answer to that question is no. Not all toddlers are the crazy kind. Some sit and look at books while their mother takes a shower. Some potty train under two years old. Some even know how to use a napkin.
Just not mine.
What I know now, that I didn't know then, is that those crazy toddlers grow. Their strengths become an integral part of your family. Mine is now a little boy. He loves stories of any kind, and will listen to me read until my voice is tired. He is compassionate, noticing how others feel and running ahead to give what they need before they ask for it.  He is emotional and affectionate, and he has a surprisingly developed sense of humor for his age.  
He still pushes every boundary in life, always testing the edges. My pediatrician once said, "He'll either be a CEO or run a meth lab, and nothing in between." I'm afraid she's right. But every day I thank God for bringing me two little boys in two years, and for the richness that once crazy toddler brings to our family.
When your kids are babies, you don't know them yet. You love them, but you don't yet know who they are going to be. Your whole life is about their development. You are running behind them at a pace that feels almost inhuman, chopping food onto plastic plates and changing diapers and averting the next catastrophe, all day long. At night you crash into bed, fall into a dreamless sleep, and wake up six hours later to do it all again. Every. single. day.
Hang in there, Moms of Crazy Toddlers. In a few years you will get to see who they are really going to be. Their development will slow to a breathable pace, and life will be about more than just keeping your kids alive another day.
You may even decide to do it all again. I have four children now, but I still say the toddler years with my oldest two have been the most strenuous in parenting. With my second round of babies and toddlers, I know that I don't know them yet, and that toddler development is exhausting. I know that pretty soon, they will be kids, and we will talk about more than nap time and "no's." And maybe, just maybe, one of them will be the "sit and read" type.  
After all, I've had my crazy toddler. I'm bound to get an easy one eventually, right?


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you- I laughed out loud and thought, of course, of my own crazy 3 1/2 year old boy who exhausts me every day but I wouldn't change a thing.

  2. Ditto thank you! I had a crazy toddler, who is now a crazy preschooler. This was so encouraging to me!

  3. This made me think of my two toddlers (3 and 2, 15 months apart) who are constantly into something. If I tell them no, 9 out of 10 times I'll hear one whisper to the other when they think I'm not in earshot "Let's do it again." My days are filled with keeping them alive. I know they will grow and learn, but it's still nice to hear it from someone who has been there. Very comforting. Thank you.

  4. This brought tears to my eyes because I often wonder what I am doing wrong. I know it's a phase but sometimes it's hard not feeling guilty when I see the sit and read kids. Thank you, I will keep the hope alive!


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