I am the mom of toddler. That’s right, Bernadette is 2 1/2. I honestly can’t even believe it. It seems like just yesterday she was cocooned in my tummy, safe and sound, and there I was, feeling completely unprepared for the unknown journey that lay ahead.
Yet, here we are. Two and half years after her wild birth. And let me tell you, we are in full on toddlerhood.
The two’s with the other girls weren’t much different than Bernadette’s. Two year old meltdowns occurred with them also, even if they may be a little more frequent with her. Food refusal and throwing things has become her norm as she tests the waters and proves her own independence. And while sometimes I want to literally pull my hair out when I see her dinner plate flying across the room, food flinging off the plate hitting the white wall I just cleaned a few minutes before, I find myself smirking and thinking oh yeah, she’s a TODDLER. Why does it surprise me that she would have typical two-year old behaviors.
I think I have realized on this journey with Bernadette only a couple of years in that yes, there are a lot of differences. She works a lot harder to accomplish her goals. The milestones she has set out to achieve are taking her a little extra time to master. Her days are filled with therapies and there are more appointments etc. She is finding her own way to communicate as she builds her language skills with both words and signs. But, at the end of the day, she’s still two and she is letting me know it.
Of course it makes sense that she would have similar behaviors based on her age as my did my other girls. I am quick to assume the food refusal is a regression with her food intake instead of chalking it up to her age.
My oldest gagged on every new food she would ever try for awhile. It was so hard. I could never anticipate what would trigger the gag reflex. Sometimes it was even on foods she loved. Her gag reflex was super sensitive. Her excitement sitting down to dinner would quickly dissipate after she picked up the fork and shoved that first bite into her mouth. Because of that, she would refuse food. She got over quickly though. I tried to be as accommodating as I could be with offering other foods to her to ensure she was getting the nutrition her body needed. I find myself in a very similar place with Bernadette. Although she’s not gagging, she’s throwing food. So I find other ways to help her eat, whether that be putting on her favorite soundtrack for the thousandth time or offering her a pouch filled with fruits and veg. All to ensure she continues to grow.
The season is tough. I’m not going to lie. And, it also is so good. It’s been amazing to watch her grow. To start showing interest in things like various activities that she enjoys doing, taking more steps, attempting to climb out of her crib (luckily she’s short, but I know it’s only a matter of time!).
I’ve also recognized in this new season we are entering in with Bernadette, I’ve wanted to pull back a little. To really savor the time with all three girls. I think it hit me a couple of weeks ago that this is it. She has a few more months of being at home before preschool. It was such a wakeup call for me to stop and take advantage of the time I have with her. It’s exciting what lays ahead for her as she begins her educational journey and equally terrifying in my eyes.
So many mothers with grown kids have said to enjoy this time while they are young because it is fleeting. Already, I wonder how it’s possible I will have all three kids in school next year. Are they old enough? Am I old enough??
Taking some time to be more inwardly reflective has been good for my own soul. It’s helped me to understand my own life motivations and my aim on this journey of Motherhood. I know my primary ministry is my own children, my husband, and then it moves out from there. And, thank you to one of my dearest friends who reminded me the importance of sharing of our story with others who maybe haven’t been a part of the Down syndrome community prior to Bernadette.
I am excited for what the future holds after feeling like I have a renewed excitement for writing my thoughts. I know these posts will be so special to me one day when Bernadette is grown. I wonder how much I will laugh and cry as I go back and read through all the ups and downs we experienced together.
So, here I am, after a long pause, ready to keep calm and carry on. Isn’t that a great British saying! It reminds me of the three years we spent in London and my first time ever seeing that phrase. It’s on everything over in London. From t-shirts to tea towels, mugs and tote bags, it’s everywhere.
The calm for me is walking confidently and steadfastly in the pure love of Jesus. Fully knowing He is my source of hope. Carry on, reaching towards the goal, which is Him.