Saturday, April 14, 2012

Toddlers and Teens

I have been given a tremendous gift. A gift that few people have the privilege of experiencing.

I am parenting teens and toddlers at the same time.

When people hear this, their reaction is usually not a positive one; both age groups tend to have a bad reputation.  Remarkably, experiencing the two simultaneously helps cancel a lot of the negative stuff out.

Let me explain...
When my teens are being so awful that I am almost brought to tears, I can turn around and grab a loving toddler and get a whole lot of unconditional love. The contrast of having incredibly adorable people in the same house with incredibly not-adorable people allows me to appreciate the adorable ones that much more.
You see, now as I parent my toddlers, I know what is coming (and lots of time it ain't pretty) and it reminds me to soak up every bit of these little beings. Every. Single. Second.

When I became a mother for the first time I was 28 years old. When I had my twins I was 42. One thing about getting older: you really are so much wiser. Your priorities shift, and for the better. You tend not to sweat the small stuff as much because, to be honest, you really don't have the energy for that anymore. When my first child was born, it took me quite a while to adjust to my new role as a mother. I spend the first few months feeling a tad resentful that this little creature had stolen my life. I mean, what the hell?!
Eighteen years later, that original life is nothing but a fuzzy memory, so I don't feel like I am missing out on a single thing.

My toddlers (and twins, no less) add nothing but joy. A tantrum? Go ahead, give it your best go; I've seen it all before. Belligerent behavior? Go for it. What is the worst that can happen? When you are 3 years old, Mommy does not have to worry about you turning to drugs and alcohol when you don't get your way. That comes later and I am fully aware of the fact.

Let me be clear: I have fantastic teenagers. They are respectful, loving and kind. But then, in a blink, they are not. I know this is totally normal developmental behavior, but let me tell you, it really sucks (and fyi, I don't allow people to use the s-word in my home, but in this situation, no other word is more appropriate).

We as humans are built this way. Teens need to push away to develop their own identity. I get it, but it still feels like a kick to the gut, every time. And if you are bouncing a chubby, drooling baby on your knee as you read this and thinking, "not my darling...", I'm telling you, it will happen. It has to. That is the work of the teenager: to separate and create their own identity (and break their mothers heart while doing so.)
One day I'm conversing with my loving child and the next, a person I do not recognize physically or emotionally is screaming at me.

It happens to all of them and I know it will happen with my babies. This is why I drink every minute with them up and I am so grateful for the gift of them I could just about burst.

One more cool thing. That screaming teen I spoke of? He will turn into putty in the hands of the adorable toddler. Nothing will fill me up more than to see my 15 year old play with his little brothers. My teens love my toddlers with a ferocity. It helps them take themselves a little less seriously. It lets them play. Nothing else in their world gives them full license to act like a little kid again and to have some plain and simple fun.  Mixed in with that is the bonus of a dose of pure love.

It is a beautiful thing. It is a glorious, fabulous gift and I soak it up every time it happens because I know in a blink, my toddlers will be teens.

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