What two years of parenting has taught me
Our kids just turned two years old. TWO! We’ve officially reached two years of parenting! As in, two years ago we were looking at them through a plastic incubator. As in two years ago, we were new parents trying to figure out what the next steps were. So much has happened in our parenting journey so far. We’ve gone from sleeping for 45 minutes (if we were lucky) and hour and a half feedings to screaming toddlers running around and jumping on the furniture as if there was lava below. That’s of course if they don’t fall and perish in the lava, which is usually followed by more screaming and hugs shortly after.
We had a party for the boys on the weekend and invited pretty much everyone we know who has kids of their own. To our other friends that don’t have kids yet, sorry but we figured you’d be bored stiff and would only come out of obligation to us, which didn’t seem right. You’re off the hook! Anyway, party. They ran and played for two hours straight and by the end, we felt like it was the perfect amount of time for them to know that they had fun. Of course, they didn’t know it was for them but they knew that they got to play on all the coolest toys and eat all the cake they wanted. Oh, Luca learned a new word that day. “Cake”. He learned how to say cake. Guess what he asks for every morning and breakfast now. You guessed it, cake!
The big “Two-O”
On their birthday we got them up, sang to them and had them open some more presents. Sooo many presents and we made them a special breakfast. Okay, that’s a lie. It was supposed to be special but we hadn’t gone shopping yet so it was just a normal breakfast of Coco Puffs, raspberries, and yogurt. Just a few of their favourite things. At dinner, we fed them as usual and then brought out a surprise I had picked up on my way home from work. Two triple chocolate chunk, brownie quake fudge cupcakes. The whole time Jude made one sound. “Mmm mmmm”. It was amazing. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little emotional as we stared at them downing their cupcakes. You think back to all the little moments, right? Changing the first diaper, picking them up and comforting them after their first fall. Their first words, their first steps. It all came back. You also think about how you’ve changed as a parent. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned in the past two years that have helped me survive this thing called parenting.
1. Unconditional love
I’m talking about that kind of love where you’ve told your kid 967,000 times not to put that cable in his mouth cause he’ll get electrocuted and he still won’t listen. Or like when the fireplace is on and they want to touch the glass sooooo badly but you’ll have to take them to the emergency room and it’s Saturday, your day to relax. That kind of love where they’re just driving you up the wall and you look at them with steam coming out of your nose and they look at you and say this one word, “dada”. Yeah, that kind of love. I think, how many times have I done something they haven’t liked? Taken their food away, not let them use the sharp knife to cut their own cheese. Turned off the TV before their show was finished and each time, they’ve forgiven me. They’ve loved me. I’m still there “dada” and there’s nothing I could do (yet) to change how they feel. That kind of love.
2. How to change a diaper in the dark
This one took some time but was a game changer for those overnight feedings and diaper changes. We figured out pretty early that turning on the lights during night feedings was basically the best thing you could do if you absolutely hated sleep and wanted to stay up all night rocking your baby back to bed. Yes, it could potentially get messy but your eyes eventually adjust and before you know it you’re, well, you’re changing a diaper in the dark. Want the details? We’ve covered all of this for you over here.
See 1. In each of these scenarios time and time again you know they’re only going to do that thing that you told them not to do. They will test you and drive you up the wall in frustration but you need to remember that they are small, you are big and you’ve learned all of those lessons already. Take a step back, let them explore a little bit but be there with them. This will go a long way in ensuring they are learning through those experiences and not just learning that mom and dad get mad when they do “bad” things. Take a step back.
4. Let go and let God
For a long time (and even a little bit now) I would worry about every little thing. What if they fall down the stairs, what if their fingers get caught in the door, what if they fall off the couch, what if when they’re 13 they fall off their bike and their teeth fall out. I mean, everything! I never thought I would be that helicopter parent but somehow it happened. For a while, I didn’t know what to do about it. Every time we strapped them in their car seats I would have slight anxiety but Thalita reminded me that despite my best fatherly efforts there was nothing I could do. A few years ago I felt God telling me to stop trying to control everything in my life. He’s in control and when I give him permission to handle the doubts in my life he makes those situations that much easier to handle. I’m still working on it but I’ve found a new hope. Here’s a quote I really like.
“If you treat every situation as a life and death matter, you’ll die a lot of times.”
– Dean Smith
5. It hasn’t even gotten hard yet
I’m no fool. They’re only two! If you’re reading this and you have teenagers than you’re probably rolling your eyes but yes, I know. Wait until they’re (insert age of your child). One day they’ll be in school and we’ll get a call that one of them ate a kids lunch or pushed another child in the mud and we’ll have to parent our way through that. One day they’ll bring a girl home and promptly whisk her upstairs to their room and we’ll have to parent our way through that. (By the way, Jude and Luca, if you’re reading this and you think you’re bringing any girls into your room, you’d better think again 😉 Love you! -mom & dad). One day they’ll come to us and (hopefully) trust us enough to share something they’ve been struggling with and we’ll gladly walk through them with that. All in all, I’m taking each day is it comes and not wishing for anything more. Parenting ain’t Easy.
6. Siblings fight and love each other with everything they have
You’ve seen it before, the kids are quiet, too quiet. You proceed to investigate and find them holding hands and watching TV (Or pulling our the insides of your couch). You embrace your partner and make comments about how perfect your kids are. 3.45 seconds later they’re hitting each other, someone is screaming and then the tears come. You think, what happened? Where did our angel babies go? And then they’re full out throwing elbows, someone is about to get DDT’d when you rush in to break up the fight. Parenting ain’t easy. You force them to makeup and two minutes later they’re back on the couch laughing. They’re insane, we know but you learn something from this. Though they fight, they love each other deeply and suddenly you realize, maybe they need to fight every now and then, (or every two and half minutes).
7. Don’t take any of this too seriously – (your kids aren’t)
This one took me a long time to figure out. Longer than I’d like to admit. It kind of stems from my need to control everything. The days were scheduled and for a long time, I was just going through the motions. Kids wake up, change, feed, eat this much, don’t touch that, read some books etc. After having two years seemingly fly by, I know this – I’m not getting any of that time back. That’s why now You can find us on the floor with them for hours, chasing them around, tickling, using them as weights and working out or just letting them pretend you’re a jungle gym. In those moments, I’m one of them and my mission is to have fun. They need to explore and learn but they also need to know that they are important. They need to know that nothing in the world comes before spending time with them. Take a step back. Have some fun. Parenting ain’t easy.
Wrapping it up
Fatherhood is hands down the best thing that has ever happened to me. Two years have flown by and over the next two I want to take in every single moment – not rush anything and not worry. I want my level of patience to increase and for my love for my children to remain unconditional. They’ve taught me that these things are important and for that, I will be forever grateful.