Valentine’s Day has been the main association I make with the month of February. But almost 5 years ago that changed when my son was born. He’s my third child, my first son after two daughters.
Going from one to two kids was much harder than going from two to three. I also cut back at work when he was born, so all was well.
Life started getting REALLY interesting shortly after my son’s first birthday…when I found out I was having twins. They would be born before he turned two.
My pregnancy was healthy but made difficult because I had three little ones at home, and the two babies incubating were born full term. During that time as I became increasingly immobile, my son became increasingly difficult. He is sensitive, high maintenance, strong-willed, fussy, needy and loud.
I struggled to get him to listen, or eat, or basically do anything. The worst part was not even the not-listening, it was the crying and fussing (i.e. screaming and meltdowns) over, you know… nothing… or everything. It led to ME screaming right back. Demanding unreasonable ultimatums from a two year old and most certainly making things worse.
At some point during this stage I was reading an online article about parenting and toddlers, and there was a particular line: Love them when they’re unloveable.
Those words hit me hard, right in the heart. I started saying that phrase to myself all the time. Whenever I was in that moment, when I just wanted to snap, I would say it. I literally said it out loud to myself repeatedly, like a mantra.
I have strived to put so much thought, effort and “approaches” into my parenting to help me shape great kids who were good listeners, kind and helpful. I want to foster all those important qualities. I want them succeed in the world and be happy. But in the end, my job is to love them. And sometimes that’s pretty much all I can do.
My son will be turning 5 this month. In so many ways he is a completely different child than that fussy two year old. It does get easier and my mantra did pay off. He is still a sensitive soul, but now in such a way that makes me so proud rather than so crazy.
One of the greatest gifts that goes with being a mother of so many children is that I can see the true power of their individual selves. I had 5 children in less than 5 years. My husband and I are raising them in a cluster, all together, all the time, all one routine. Yet their personalities, characteristics, qualities, attributes, challenges….are strikingly different. They all have blue eyes but the look in each one is unique.
It’s the hardest and best job in the world, I just need to love them.