So, Noah is turning 2 tomorrow… and while I am so excited that he is growing up, developing into a really cool person, and hitting some pretty major milestones, I am really struggling with the idea that he’s not a baby anymore. I know, I know. He will always be my baby. And yes, we still call him “the baby” and “baby boy” every day. But the fact is, as of tomorrow, he is a 2 year old. He is running and talking and doing things on his own. We are starting to attempt this whole potty-training thing, he wants to put his pants on himself in the morning, and just this week, he climbed the “made just for big kids” ladder at the playground all by himself- although he was wearing bunny ears at the time.
I did the same thing when he turned one. I spent most of the weeks before his birthday crying and feeling like I hadn’t been paying attention for the first year of his life because it just felt like it had gone by so fast. And, as I hung my head in shame for being so upset about such a happy time, I discovered that other new moms felt the same way. I even struggle sometimes now to remember that tiny 7 pound infant that I brought home from the hospital.
But if motherhood has taught me anything, I now know that each stage, no matter how wonderful or difficult, is worth every sleepless night, every ruined sweater, every tear of joy and exhaustion. And, on top of the lovely lessons of motherhood, Noah has taught me more in the past 2 years than I could have ever imagined. While I try to teach him new things every day, it is his infinite toddler wisdom that amazes me daily. So, instead of being sad about this birthday, I would like to celebrate 3 of the lessons I have learned from him and pass them along so that you can also benefit from his genius.
1. “Take Picture, Mommy!” It took a 2 year old to call me out on the fact that yes, I take way too many pictures of my child. I am guilty of missing some pretty great moments because I was searching for my camera or yelling at my phone because it couldn’t take the picture fast enough. But, man, do I have some awesome pictures of my little man doing some pretty ordinary and oh-so-cute things. (I also have some pretty blurry pictures of him running past me, several pictures of his hand trying to grab the camera, and a few pictures of the floor because he had already moved on to something else.) Being a child of the 80’s, my mom has a basket of pictures of my sister and me as children sitting in her basement, probably never to be seen again. But now, in the age of the digital photo, instagram, and Facebook, I have more pictures than you could look at in a year. But man, am I glad I do. The other day, Noah picked up a piece of wood at the park and pretended it was a camera. He kept taking “pictures” and saying “Take picture, Mommy!” It was that moment that I discovered how thankful I am that I have those memories to look at again and again, to share with family, and that he can enjoy one day. No basement basket of baby pictures for him!
2. Your own doggies are never as interesting as other people’s doggies! Matt and I are dog people. We have 2 big rescue dogs that have been our 4-legged children for 9 years. And yes, while they do push our buttons far more than Noah ever has, we love them. However, we realized not too long ago that we really don’t think Noah thinks of them as dogs. He LOVES animals. And I mean LOVES animals. All kids have something that is their thing- Noah’s thing is animals… especially dogs. But our dogs, Kenan and Poplar, who love him and would do anything to protect him, he could care less. He gets aggravated and angry at them. He yells “No!” and “Hush!” when they try to play with him. It’s crazy. But, you show him another dog or he sees one at the park, and you can’t hold him back he is running so fast to run and play and pet that stranger-doggie. I started thinking about this with a bigger-picture mentality and I realized that we all do the same thing. Everyone else’s “stuff” looks so much better and more exciting than our own. I envy my friends’ clothing or houses; I imagine their lifestyles so much more glamorous and exciting than mine; and I think about how much more fun they are having after they put their kids to bed. Noah is a lot smarter much earlier to have already figured out that the grass is always greener. But behind our front door, when Noah is snuggled up on the couch to read a book, sometimes he invites Poplar to curl up beside him. And sometimes he so desperately wants to help Daddy feed Kenan and add water to their water bowl. So, while the grass is a little greener on the other side, we need to try and remember that it’s pretty great on this side too.
3. If you get too hot, find a shady spot and sit down for a minute. Noah is a sweaty, sweaty boy. If there is one thing that I can say about my son, he plays hard. He takes on playing like it’s a serious job. He works with his toys, he never walks- only runs, and if you’re in his way, look out. Whether he is inside or outside, he plays so hard that his head sweats, his feet smell, and his little face turns bright red. But, if you sit back and watch him, when his face gets too red and his head gets too sweaty, he will find a small toy, take it to a shady spot outside or climb up on the couch inside, and play quietly until he cools down. Then, he gets back to business. It is these moments that have taught me the most. When I get all riled up and angry, I rarely think to find a quiet spot and calm down before I get back to business. Noah figured out at 2 years old that you cannot “work” as effectively if you’re too hot and your face is too red.
These 3 lessons (and, trust me, there are many, many more) have helped me to be a lot happier about this birthday. These lessons have also helped me to enjoy the fact that my little baby is such a cool little guy. He is funny and smart. He gets so excited about the tiniest things. He loves dinosaurs and doggies and he approaches every situation with big wide eyes. He soaks up life with a voracious appetite and every time he yells “Oh my goodness!” when he sees something new, my heart melts.