Toddlers Gonna Toddler

This is what you need to know about parenting #5.
I have exactly three diapers to last until my Amazon delivery comes tomorrow. Three.
And I am totally taking that gamble. Because taking a one year old to the store to purchase more is the actual worst.
Just last week, I had a lapse in judgement…because my mom and I traveled to a city that has Costco. Because I love Costco more than I hate grocery shopping with a toddler, I decided it was worth the risk.
If nearly fourteen years of parenting has taught me anything, it’s that nothing with a toddler is worth the risk.
Not only did I walk out of Costco with about $500 worth of stuff I didn’t even know I needed, I also walked out with a screaming toddler and a diaper full of poop.
Apparently after fourteen years of parenting, I still severely underestimate the amount of diapers necessary in a given situation. It’s my spiritual gift if you can’t tell.
As I did the long walk of shame out of what I think is the largest store in the universe, I realized how much I’ve changed in those years.
The first time I left a store with a screaming toddler, I cried the whole way out, hugged a stranger who followed me to make sure I was okay (I wasn’t), and spent the rest of the day (maybe the month?) lamenting over how unqualified I was to raise children.
This time, I walked out without caring much what anyone thought…occasionally making eye contact with a sympathetic mom who was probably relieved it wasn’t her child and thinking out loud, “Toddlers, am I right?” I changed her diaper, strapped her into her car seat, and didn’t give it a second thought.
It turns out that my child’s behavior doesn’t get to disqualify me as a good mom.
That is true of toddlers. That is true of teens. And every age in between and beyond.
Let me say it again for the cheap seats: Your worth as a mom is not determined by your kids’ behavior.
Thank goodness.
Because I gotta tell you…my kids can be realllllly awesome. And they can be reallllly terrible.
However they decide to act in that particular moment is not necessarily a reflection of you. Sometimes it is, of course. I think it goes without saying how important it is to model strong faith, good character, contributing well to society…and all of the positive attributes of being a decent human.
But when babies act like babies and toddlers act like toddlers and teens act like toddlers, their brains are still developing and working out their big feelings in a big (and often embarrassing) way. They’re pushing the limits and pushing your buttons to figure out how to survive in this huge, scary world.
But it’s not personal. Not even 1%.
You are their softest place to land. And humans inexplicably act the worst around the people they love the most.
Following that logic, a tantrum should actually be a huge compliment.
I mean, how awesome would it be if our brains computed behaviors in that way?
My preteen is yelling that I am the worst person on the planet?? “Why thank you for communicating you are loved enough to express that!”
My child irrationally explodes when I tell him to put his plate in the sink? “Wow, you must trust me with those feelings you’ve bottled up all day at school.”
My kids fight and fight and fight and fight. “Isn’t it crazy how conflict serves to strengthen relationships? I bet they’ll be good friends one day.”
Unfortunately, my brain is the meanest member of my family…and rather than computing the truth, it spits out the narrative that my kids’ behavior is somehow a reflection of what a terrible parent I am.
Is the same true for you??
Well, I am here to tell you. You’re a good mom. You’re a really, really good mom.
You show up everyday. You love well. You mess up but you fix it. You do the absolute best you can do. And give all you can to your family. Times infinity.
You’re a good mom.
And that doesn’t change just because the tiny people are acting like the imperfect humans that they are.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about this. And it probably won’t be the last.
Because in a time when moms are working extra hard to give their children their very best but somehow end up feeling completely inadequate most of the time…I will never quit beating the drum that YOU ARE ENOUGH JUST AS YOU ARE. You are a good mom because you are a good mom.
And maybe you’ve had a day where you just need to hear that one more time.
I certainly know I do. Because as of the completion of this writing, we are down to two diapers. And tomorrow when I have to create a makeshift diaper using a t-shirt and a maxi pad (this isn’t my first rodeo), I will need to hear it again.
Because what kind of mom forgets to buy diapers for her precious babe??
Oh yeah, a totally good one. Who happens to have such a full plate that things just fall off sometimes. Thank you, brain, for computing that accurately for once.

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