I’m a Parent Now!
Atlas turned 2 years old in October. TWO!
He is so much fun at this age! Dave & I currently love to ask him random questions about his day because his answers almost always make us laugh out loud. He is one of thee most animated kids I know and I just adore the way he uses his hands and dramatic voice inflection when he’s telling a story. On Christmas morning he shouted “OH MY GOSH” or “OH MY GOODNESS” or “OH WOW! AMAZING!” after every single present he opened. It didn’t matter if it was a giant truck or a pair of socks. The reaction was the same and totally over the top. He gets so incredibly excited over life (and conversely, he can also get so incredibly mad when things don’t go his way) and his bright spirit is infectious.
I have definitely transitioned during this season from being just a ‘caregiver’ to actually being a ‘parent’ to Atlas. By this, I mean that a caregiver serves to meet all your physical needs while a parent goes one step further and helps mold your heart, attitude and outlook on life. Atlas requires more than diaper changes and snuggles at this stage of life. He needs guidance. I’m being stretched mentally as I try to teach him right from wrong & how to treat others. For example, I’m not just trying to teach him to share. I’m trying to teach him WHY we should share – I’m trying to instill compassion and consideration in him now at an early age. Another example is when he gets mad because Andi is playing with a toy that he wants, I have to address the issue and the real issue isn’t trying to figure out how to give both Atlas and Andi a turn playing with the same toy. That’s just the surface issue. The real issue I must address is the ugly attitude rooted in his little heart that doesn’t want his baby sister to have something that he wants. That’s a sin and I’ve got to help him identify that in himself and change his outlook. That’s tricky. And I know this is only just beginning – I’m simply attempting to lay a solid foundation now so we are working on steady ground as the issues we face in the future get bigger and more complex. I find it a bit overwhelming sometimes, but it is causing me to seek the Lord like never before because I know the wisdom and guidance I so desperately need can be found in Him alone. I can promise you I won’t be doling out parenting advice for the next 25 years. This job is tough and I struggle everyday with wondering if I’m doing this motherhood thing right. If my kids turn out to be amazing, perhaps I’ll write a book in 30 years about how to raise awesome humans. And hey – if they wind up in prison, maybe I’ll still write a book – It will just be called, “Parenting gone wrong: What NOT to do.”
All joking aside, I am enjoying the precious interactions that come with having a toddler. From the laughter that erupts during tickle fights and endless piggy back rides to the countless hours spent on the floor playing with choo choo trains – There’s so much joy and so much sweetness to be soaked up. Sure, there are days where Atlas throws giant tantrums and sometimes I respond by throwing a tantrum right back (& my tantrums can surprisingly be slightly more dramatic than his). And then I put myself in timeout by locking myself in the bathroom and running the water so my family can’t hear me sobbing. But even in the midst of all that craziness, there are so many blessings to be counted.
One of the unexpected blessings that has stemmed from this new season of parenting is how God is using the lessons I’m trying to teach Atlas to gently convict my own heart. For example, the other day I asked Atlas to do something and in his little mind the end result of his obedience wasn’t going to be beneficial to him. Naturally, the crocodile tears started flowing. I quickly snapped, “Atlas! You just worry about obeying and let mommy worry about the outcome.” In that moment, the Holy Spirit gently nudged my heart and I felt the Lord saying, “Ashley – you know that apology you still haven’t given? Or that family I asked you to give to over the holidays, even though you’re living on 1 income and you don’t think it makes good financial sense during this season? Shouldn’t you do this very thing? Worry more about obeying and let ME worry about the outcome.” The Holy Spirit stopped me right in my tracks that day. I’m so thankful for how gentle the Lord is with my heart as He guides me. This reality challenges me to try so hard to be gentle with Atlas’ little heart as I guide him. I actually think I could dedicate an entire post to the lessons I’m teaching Atlas that God is simultaneously teaching me. Most recently it has been how to respond correctly when the answer to your request is ‘no.’ Atlas & I are learning that lesson together…mostly the hard way…you know, trial and error.
We are choosing to call this season with Atlas the “teachable two’s” instead of the “terrible two’s” because it is all about perspective, right? 😉 I feel so lucky that I get to be his mom. What a treasure he is to me!
And if you’re a mom reading this from behind a locked bathroom door where you’re trying to muffle your sobs, I’m sending you a big virtual hug and challenging you to get up, dry your eyes, put on some lipstick (because that always makes me feel more put together) and give yourself a truckload of grace. Because isn’t that what we all need as mothers? An outpouring of grace? To ourselves. To each other. Grace that washes away those thoughts that says our flaws are too great and our strengths are too few. Grace that covers us with the reality that we don’t have to try to be perfect at everything everyday. We just have to find rest in the One who is perfect. Press on, sweet sister! You’re doing a great job and God knew your kids would need YOU as their mom. ♥