November is all about gratitude. A holiday focused on giving thanks will do that to people. Toddler parents—frustrated, tired, and unhappy though we may be—are constantly grateful, not just in November. Why?
Because the rapidly developing and changing individuals we are raising keep gratitude front and center in any household.
But don’t worry. This isn’t another sentimental soliloquy waxing rhapsodic about how thankful I am for my health, my family, my job, my security, blah, blah, blah. Those are things for which I am grateful everyday; I don’t need to proclaim that during a specific month. Instead, this list is about what parents of toddlers are grateful for all year long.
1. When your child finally poops after being constipated.
Eesh. Nothing makes you send up a prayer of thanksgiving faster than when your poor child finally relieves himself. At two months old, my son started on soy formula, which threw his entire system out of whack; he didn’t fill a diaper for almost a week—not to mention this all happened over his baptism weekend. I was a nervous wreck for two reasons: 1. the obvious…that he hadn’t pooped in so many days (was something wrong with him?) and the fear that he’d end up blowing out a diaper in the dapper white outfit my mom sewed for him. I cheered doubly loud the next day when he finally unloaded…even if some of it ended up on me.
2. Sleeping more than 2 hours at a time.
Your sleep, your kid’s sleep—doesn’t matter. After you become a parent, you become acutely aware of how much (nay, how little) sleep everyone is getting. Whether dealing with newborns who sleep constantly yet at wildly varying times, to having a toddler who decides the day starts at 4:30 a.m., parents are constantly grateful when everyone in the family is finally able to get a little shut-eye. Even if you have to snag your few minutes in the car during your lunch break. (It’s glorious, trust me)
See number two.
4. Getting rid of the pacifier. Yes, pacifiers themselves are a source of gratitude for any parent who’s been in a public place with a screaming baby. Nothing shuts that kid up faster than sticking that piece of plastic in his mouth. Alas, that also means that nothing shuts that kid up faster at 2:30 AM than sticking that piece of plastic in his mouth. My husband and I have worn a path in the carpet from our room to our son’s due to the frequent trips we’ve made in the middle of the night simply to pop that paci back in his mouth. (Double-edged swords are great, aren’t they?)
We finally ditched our son’s pacifiers just before his second birthday. We thought about lighting them on fire so they couldn’t come back to haunt us…
5. Falling off playground equipment and NOT freaking out about it. Playgrounds are a danger zone. It’s all slippery surfaces and high heights. Kids love them. Parents fear them. Kids are going to fall off of them; it’s inevitable. But the first time your kid falls from playground equipment and doesn’t flip out allows parents to see a glimpse of freedom not enjoyed since B.C. (before child). It’s just a glimpse, but it’s all parents of toddlers need…
6. Getting dressed solo. We’re not there entirely, but in the last couple of months my son figured out how to put on his own pants, socks, and shoes. What a help! Now instead of wrangling his squirmy body to stuff his appendages through some arm and leg holes, I get to ask him to put these things on himself each morning.
Of course, the double-edged sword here is that he also knows how to take those things off. Shoes off? Great! Socks off? Okay, fine. Pants off? Jeez, not in public! Especially considering that he also figured out how to take his diaper off (but doesn’t know how to put one on)…
Also included in this—gloves. Do you know how hard it is to get five wiggly little fingers in a glove?! Probably more difficult than catching a greased pig. Clothing companies shouldn’t even be allowed to make gloves for children under the age of five…just mittens. For the love of God, only mittens.
7. Using the toilet. This pretty much goes without saying, but let me elaborate. In a child’s first year of life, he or she will destroy nearly 5,000 diapers. My son turned two in August. We’ve only started to dip our toes (not literally, gross) in the potty training realm, but I cannot wait for the day when we no longer need to stock up on diapers at Costco. I’ll be a thousand times more thankful on that day than any fourth Thursday in November. Turkey day happens every year, but learning how to control your bodily functions is a once-in-a-lifetime event. At least we hope it is…
Parents, I know I’ve missed other milestone moments for which we are eternally grateful. What have you experienced as an important moment of gratitude in your parenting journey?