I thought that life with two toddlers (and a preschooler) was, quite possibly, going to be a nightmare.
There. I said it.
I love my girls – don’t misunderstand me there. I was just scared out of my mind to have them actually move. They were so lovely and contained in their bouncy seats, their swings. I could always see their hands.
Fear had me imagining how one would be splashing in the sink, and the other would be heading for the basement stairs. Or one would be noshing in the flour tub, and the other would be climbing into the dryer. Or maybe they’d both make a pact to destroy the only houseplant I’ve kept alive for over a decade.
Perhaps that’s a fear of every mother with multiple children. A mama can only be in one place at one time. But children don’t abide by those rules. Toddlers run all over like the butter you were only supposed to soften in the microwave. Preschoolers slather themselves, and the surrounding walls, in vaseline because they have an owie. On their toe.
Meanwhile, in the middle of me trying to figure out how to quit being afraid of calling my girls toddlers, Gabby got off her knees and balanced on her heels, arms held wide. She was slow and methodical, and immensely pleased with herself. Lucy joined her after a month, and immediately, life changed. Thankfully, it changed in a very good way.
Here at 18 months and fully mobile, the girls are happier. More self-directed. (My three and half year old included.) They are less apt to scream for things they can’t reach, whine for something across the room, or cry because they need a change of scenery.
Along with the physical steps, they’ve started making verbal strides as well. Words are still sparse, but every day I hear them say something new. I also now catch them singing, talking on the phone (any object with buttons), and jabbering to their stuffed animals. They’ve also mastered the art of yes and no. Specifically no.
But by far the best thing I’ve noticed this month is their level of affection toward one another. I’m friends with a lovely group of twin mamas on Facebook and Instagram, and I’d always feel a twinge of jealousy when I saw their twins hugging one another, kissing each other, or sleeping side by side.
Then a couple of weeks ago, I noticed something new. Lucy rested her head on Gabby’s shoulder in the shopping cart. It was the first time I’d seen them intentionally take comfort from one another.
Since then, I’ve seen all three of my girls venture into the territory of sisterly affection. I caught Ellis holding Lucy in our old blue rocking chair, singing you are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Gabby has started giving kisses on demand. Lucy is always game to snuggle with any of her sisters that are sitting down.
It’s nothing short of amazing to me. All of it. The walking. The attempts at talking. The affection.
In all my fearful wonderings about how it was going to work managing two toddlers and a preschooler, I made a big mistake. I didn’t temper my fear with any daydreams of how awesome it was going to be to see my girls grow. (Or in today’s case, how interesting it would be to type with a baby sitting on the desk in front of me, randomly poking at the keys.)
That sounds so rote. I know. Don’t worry about the scary stuff!! Think about the good stuff!! Smiley face!! Hearts!!
But please. Promise me something. Promise me you’ll try envisioning your children growing up. Not because I said so. Not because you need another piece of advice to pin, or something to write on your chalkboard, or another link to store in your phone. Try it because if you’re anything like me, it’s simply too easy to lose sight of the big picture.
We are raising our children to be people.
Imagine your daughter sitting at the piano. Your son designing his first science project. Your teenagers sitting down at the table for pizza night. Think about the first time your child tells you they’re in love.
Fear doesn’t deserve as much space as we give it in this life- motherhood or otherwise. But growth?
Growth deserves all the energy we can give it.