If I’ve learnt anything from the past year and a bit of motherhood, it’s that time really doesn’t stand still. Things move and change so quickly. I’m finding more and more that I really want to take some time to document our lives – in photos, in words – because although you think you’ll remember the lovely, trying ordinariness of life with a small child, you most likely won’t. I don’t.
So I’m trying to write about it more. Pictures and videos I have and will always be eternally grateful for. Looking back even six months, Soren has changed so much! Having the reminder of that chubbier-faced little person who was still learning to string sentences together, being able to see the way he moved or said certain words, it’s so lovely. The toys he played with, what he liked to eat… These things change so imperceptibly that often you don’t realise until you look back, and see how far he’s come. How far we’ve both come.
Three and half might be my favourite age yet (I say that at every stage). I used to think I was more of a baby person than a toddler person – I felt like I didn’t know how to play with them or what to say, but I don’t think any of that matters at all when it’s your own kid. It all just fits into place because they are yours and you are theirs.
Getting to know Soren as a toddler – and preschooler – has been a total joy. …For the most part: those early weeks of him being 3 were not the most fun I’ve ever had, if I’m honest. There were tantrums, him rejecting me and choosing his dad or granny (or anyone, it felt like) over me… it felt like every single thing we did was a battle. It’s utterly exhausting, emotionally, especially when you’re parenting solo for chunks of time.
Now, thankfully, we’re mostly out the other side, and on the good days he’s maybe my favourite person to spend time with. I don’t know where he gets his sweet ideas from, but listening to them makes my heart want to explode. He’s funny, and polite, and gentle. He loves made-up bedtime stories, and cuddling in bed together and speaking nonsense at the end of the day is one of my favourite things (except for when I’m really tired and there have been many, many ridiculous stories and he won’t just Go. To. Sleep. Then it’s definitely less cute.)
I love it when he says “Oh! I have a great idea…” before explaining a new game; his new found obsession with Lego; how silly his sense of humour is; how sweet he has been about the idea of a new sibling: accepting it fully and wanting to kiss and cuddle the bump. He’s sociable and loves music, and is always, always singing.
But life with a kid at this stage is far from easy. Learning to navigate both of our big feelings and parent with empathy and patience is something I’m really proud of in myself. I’m not a naturally patient person, but I do (usually) have a lot of empathy, so trying to find ways to understand why Soren is acting the way he is has helped a lot with the difficult times. Acknowledging behaviour and trying to help him understand how he feels has often helped with the big meltdowns. That and mindfulness and meditation techniques, for me! (As naff as it might sound, deep breathing and repeating mantras like “let it go…” repeatedly, while I hide in the bathroom for 5 minutes, has saved me on times I thought I could actually just get in the car and drive off. And there have been many, many of those times).
But there are so many other things I wonder whether I’m doing a good enough job of. Helping him to grow into a kind person, for example; a boy who understands that his gender doesn’t define him or his actions, that he doesn’t have to subscribe to the saying “boys will be boys”, that feelings are good and showing them is healthy.
That girls and women are his equals, and everyone is deserving of love and respect and space. That he can be himself, always, whatever that looks like. I’m sure that’s all any parent wants: to raise a child that has self belief, and is a good human. Ho much say we have in any of that is debatable but I do believe that modelling the behaviour you want to see, and talking – always talking – is maybe the best you can do. Let’s see.
So this, for the moment (before things change and we haven other tiny person around here) is life with a 3 and half year old. I have no idea what kind of person he’s going to grow up to be, but based on the version we have right now, I’m hopeful he’ll be pretty bloody lovely.