Life with Toddlers

“Mommy, are you thirsty?” asks my recently-turned three-year-old daughter, Ruby.

“You must be thirsty, Mommy,” she continues. “Where’s your coffee, Mommy? Do you want me to get you your coffee?”

We’re playing outside with Ruby’s younger brother Cyrus, and I’m now curious where exactly my coffee is. Hmm, I could’ve sworn I put it on the picnic table, I think to myself. A second later, Ruby appears with my ceramic coffee mug coddled in her hands, her face beaming with delight and anticipation.

“Ruby, did you hide Mommy’s coffee?” I ask plainly, to which she just smiles.

“Mommy, I made you CHALK-o-late coffee! You like chalk-o-late! Here you GO!”

At this point, I stare down at the pieces of colored chalk strewn about, and decide to skip drinking from my mug.

You’re right, Ruby. I do like chocolate. If only this was real chocolate. I reflect to myself.

This snippet from a recent morning is a good example of the many ways parenting and stewarding two little ones can be a combination of humor, coupled with surprise and sometimes frustration.

Likewise, Cyrus, who is nearly one and a half years old, is learning cause and effect and how he can directly affect objects around him. Just a couple days ago, I looked up from tidying the living room in our sweet little cottage to see him gleefully unraveling the last of the paper towel roll throughout the kitchen.

Paper towels were strewn about everywhere.

For a brief moment I smiled, and then quickly realized that those were the last of our paper towels, and how the floor was somehow wet and dirty and now those paper towels were on their way out. Thankfully, Ruby was quick on the scene and gathered the few usable semi-crinkled paper towels and ran over to give me a “new hairstyle.” (She is really into makeovers right now.) Before I knew it, she completely blinded my eyes with those paper towels and gently told me not to worry about anything, because now I could have “napkin hair.” Somehow napkin hair made everything better, she decided. Being pregnant and moody, I tried not to cry too hard into my napkin hair.

In that moment, I felt like I would never be able to get our house tidy. An hour of work on my part, and these kids can dump their water bottles on the floor and somehow think to play in/near the toilet and pull down freshly-repaired wallpaper and open the fridge and start emptying the water filter jug, all in the blink of an eye. It’s amazing to see, really.

Mondays, like today, tend to be especially hard. I think it has to do with the fun of the weekend ending, and Daddy going back to work. Statistically, the kids cry much more on Mondays than any other day of the week. Pulled hair, screaming, occasional bite marks, bigger messes, and a greater level of disobedience. I find myself grasping for a moment of calm and quiet on these days, if only to pray for more patience and wisdom in how to discipline and love them well. Today was no exception, and by the kids’ afternoon nap time, I found myself incredibly exhausted and on the verge of a meltdown. By the grace of God, I was able to get both kids into their shared room to nap without one waking the other up. At this point, I wearily crumpled into bed, praying for rest. As soon as laid my head down, I realized that Ruby had taken her dirty rain boots, which earlier I had asked her not to have – let alone wear – in the house, and hidden them under the covers, just beside my pillow. I wanted to scream. Instead, I quietly asked God for grace and texted Ken asking for prayer.

Oftentimes, when people find out that Ruby and Cyrus are so close in age and that we have another little one on the way, they think Ken and I are either crazy or incredible, or both. It’s true that having kids close in age can be very exhausting. If you space them three or more years apart, they are more likely to be able to help or can better take care of themselves so you can focus on the younger sibling(s). But Ken and I are hoping that they will also grow up to be great friends, and close allies, thanks in part to their close proximity in age. I remember Ken and I talking about kids when we first got married some eight years ago, how we’d wait a few years, and then try. Beyond that, we didn’t have a set number of kids we wanted or really consider how close they’d be in age. We had Ruby shortly before our fifth wedding anniversary, and in having Ruby, I realized how much I love kids. There’s nothing else like it. I may wake up exhausted every morning and go to bed exhausted every night, but it’s such a gift to have these kids in my life. They are so smart and creative and adventurous.

Lord-willing, our house will be clean again someday. For now, I’ll do my best to put out fires and tidy around the messes, and try to laugh (instead of cry) as Ruby gives me “napkin hair” makeovers. Cheers to getting through another Monday!


Photos taken by Alana Davis Photography

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