We were almost done with his bedtime routine: my son’s teeth were brushed, his truck pajamas were on, books had been read, and prayers were said. However, as I picked him up to put him in his crib, he slowly tucked his head under my chin and laid on my chest. “More” he said in his sweet, soft voice as I carried him towards his crib. He wasn’t quite ready for me to put him in bed yet. So I let him keep his head on my chest, sat back in the rocking chair, and sang him worship songs. As most toddlers experience, he’s teething right now, so while I sang, he had his eyes closed and his little finger in his mouth rubbing his sore gums. We rocked and I sang to him for an extra ten minutes. When I finished, he sat up and stared at me with his big brown eyes. Then he leaned forward and put his tiny nose to my nose and gave me a nose kiss. As a smile spread across his face, I was reminded of how precious these moments are.
Is this the only stain on my shirt today?
Nope. Actually my shirt is covered in an array of stains. Toddler mom life at its best. There is a little spot of avocado on the front of my shirt from my son’s lunch. Powdered cheese handprints are on my leggings from the flavor blasted Goldfish he ate as a snack. On my sleeve is milk from his sippy cup straw that shot out in an arch when he played with it instead of drinking it. And now I have this spit stain.
Why am I talking about stains on my clothes?
Because I cherish these stains. Yep…you heard me right…cherish. Everyone warns you about how quickly kids grow when they are babies, and the same thing applies to the toddler years. Unfortunately, most people have a negative outlook on toddlers. The “terrible twos” is a phrase that parents have said so much that we can start to see toddler years as something to “survive” rather than something to cherish.
Now, do I miss the days of having clean clothes at the beginning AND end of each day? Absolutely! But these stains remind me of the very short, precious time that I get to spend with my toddler. The spit on my shirt reminds me that there are only a few years that I get to spend rocking and singing to my son while showing him unconditional love before he goes out into the world. There are only a few years that he will reach for my hand when the ground looks uneven. So I cherish these moments with my sweet toddler. Every time he falls to the ground crying when he doesn’t get to drive the car is an opportunity for me to teach him about his feelings and how to express them. Every piece of, inevitably red, food that he throws onto our tan carpet, is an opportunity for me to teach him boundaries. And every time he wants just a few extra moments of cuddling before bedtime, I will oblige him happily.
Because toddler years are short…so bring on the stains!