i'm a baby person. i love babies. i love the weird way they look. i tolerate the weird way they smell. i love the way they do NOTHING and can do NOTHING for themselves. i love that! i don't mind doing everything for them. changing their disgusting diapers. feeding them. burping them. wiping up their spit up. putting them to bed a million times a day. i love it all. unless they are cry babies. then that's a deal breaker.
toddlers think they are the opposite of babies, and that's why i don't like them. they usually look better as toddlers than they did as babies, and they usually smell less foul than their younger counterparts, but they think they can do EVERYTHING. by themselves. with no help. but in fact, they can still do NOTHING (right) and they cry about EVERYTHING, which i mentioned was a deal breaker for me.
but here is the absolute, positively worst thing about toddlers- they bring out the ugliest part of me. the. ugliest.
a good friend of mine told me long time ago that the most successful relationships were ones where each member brought out the best in each other.
case in point- chris and i. we honestly have an incredible relationship that i praise Jesus for daily. sure we disagree on stuff and occasionally annoy each other, but seriously, our relationship is so great. sometimes i feel like the world's best wife- selfless, serving, all that good stuff. but the more i inspect my soul these days, i find very little that is good, pure, and Christ-like in there. my love is not unconditional. it is heavily laden with conditions, rules, and stipulations.
chris works so dang hard, he loves his job, and he is really really good at it. but he loves his family more than anything in this world- more than money, more than football- and that's saying A LOT. chris also happens to adore me, and i know this despite the fact he is not a big words-of-affirmation kind of guy. i feel so secure in our relationship, and he really pushes me to be the best mom, wife, daughter, friend, aunt, foster mom, that i can be. i am a good wife cause he is the best husband!
then you have my kids. namely the toddlers. oh for the love. where do i begin... they make me feel... so inadequate. for example- i have been a mom for over seven years now. sure Lily and Topher occasionally throw me for a loop, but for the most part i know how to deal with them. Mia still has moments that make me question the kind of mom that i am and that i thought i was. i know every child is unique and you can't even parent your children- who are genetically identical, identically. i know this from having had Lily and Topher so close together, and i know this cause Mia is so different from Lily, and Topher, and LilyandTopher. she has suddenly become a not very good sleeper, and is becoming a pickier eater with every passing day. i have moments when i just want to quit, and then Mia says something so sincere, so simple, like: "mom, thanks for making me breakfast" or "mom, thank you for buying me that striped shirt that one time" and then i smother her with kisses and cuddles and chocolates. she's cute, and that's why she's still alive.
and then there's little miss J. we hit the foster kid jackpot with this one- and i am not saying this with a hint of sarcasm. she doesn't have any signs of neglect or abuse, though she has moments when i think it would be appropriate to get 'thug life' tattooed on her neck, but even those moments are so rare now that's she's been here for over three months. the only thing that seems to be 'wrong' with her, is her age. between still getting teeth, and learning to communicate, we've had a couple of rough days and weeks. and by rough, i mostly just mean annoying. this girl can throw a tantrum with the best of them, and whining is a very special talent she has as well. sometimes she just screams in my face and i want to scream back at her: "YOU'RE NOT INVITED TO MY BIRTHDAY PARTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" like i said- these kids aren't bringing out the best in me. they are bringing out the toddler in me.
but the scary thing to think about is- if they don't bring out the best in me- what if i am not bringing out the best in these kids??!?!??
that's the stuff nightmares are made of folks.
there's a verse that gets to me, and gives me much hope. it's from lamentations 3:22-23, and it goes a little something like this:
"The steadfast love of the never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
so, i'm trying not to teach my kids to be like me. i'm trying to teach them to be like Jesus, but the more i hang out with them, the more i realize they have a steadfast and unconditional love much akin to my Savior, and in that respect, maybe i should let my inner toddler out more.