Dear Emily – What My Two-Year-Old is Teaching Me About Life

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Dear Emily,

I need to talk to you.

I see the hesitation on your passionate little face. You’re expecting me to warn, “We don’t…” or “What do we say?” or “Stop…” or “1…2…”

It’s been a challenging month. From misplaced my-little-ponies to jellybeans of inappropriate colour, it ain’t easy being two. Between your emotional outbursts and a run of nasty viruses, I’m tired. Your little sister’s been keeping me up at night and my patience is stretched thin during the day. I’m more prone to snap at you instead of speaking kindness. It’s easier to cave in to Curious George on TV instead of discovering him in a book with you snuggled on my lap.

Yesterday, Auntie asked, “Who’s your best friend, Emily? Is it Karsten or Audrey?”

And you said, “No. It’s Mom.”

Mom. Grim, snappy, irritated Mom. And my heart just about caved in. I thought about it all night. This mom cloak that fits too overwhelmingly tight but that I miss when I take it off for even an hour.

My sweet girl, tears brimming in blue eyes, lip protruding, with your infectious laughter and insatiable eagerness… I need to thank you.

Thank you. You light up immediately in response to these two simple words. They buoy you up. You’re delighted. Radiant. You erupt forward in a tousled ferocious hug. You forgive instantly. You love crashingly. Emphatically.

Sometimes I get all tangled up in correcting you and I forget to see that in your exploring and expressing, your outbursts and your gentle sweetness, your observations and your queries, all you’ve been teaching me.

Like to feel all the feelings, then move on.

You laugh. You cry. You dawdle. You wonder. You ponder. You pout. You remind me to savor it all, be completely present in the moment, then shake it off and carry on.

To do small things with great love.

You run to find your sister’s soother and toys to keep her happy. You reverently carry me the dead ladybug discovered by the front door and solemnly ask me her name. You observe everything, you listen hard, and you understand that everyone is intrinsically valuable.

To never ever stop exploring.

You find wonder everywhere. You want to know everything. How many feathers will stick in your hair? Why were there feathers in that pillow? Why does the dishwasher wash spoons? Where do unicorns live? Who is Santa’s grandpa?

Sweet girl, this toddler stage is a huge learning curve for both of us but your sweetness, forgiveness, kindness and creativity keep teaching me more than I’m able to impart. I don’t want to miss one lesson, little Ems, because I know that the time is coming when you grow to see that I’m not your best friend, but I am your boundary setter, your biggest cheerleader, your forever ally, your prayer warrior, your sounding board.

And slowly but surely, I’m growing into the role model you call mom.


This article also appeared on Grumbling Grace and Huffington Post