Going from one to two is a funny thing. It certainly has it's trying moments.
Like this one... where she found my mascara and eyeliner and helped herself... Coconut oil makes a great non-toxic eye makeup remover... Just in case you needed to know that for your 2 year old.. :/
It has chaotic moments where everything is unraveling and you just can't do anything except sit back and laugh at the marathon that you just ran. And it has sweet moments where early bonds and budding friendship emerges and you just sit back and watch until your heart is filled to overflowing.
It's been sweet getting to know the little guy that we wondered about for so long. He is a lot like we thought he would be and yet different than we thought he would be all in the same course. I've enjoyed the first glimpses of his personality. It's funny to think back on a time that he wasn't with us. I love that. I love that he fills out our family in just the right ways. I love that he fills up my heart in so many ways.
People always ask how the older kids transition when a new baby is in the house, and all in all Abi Kate really embraced it well. She had a regression with potty training (which we expected) and suddenly decided waking up in the middle of the night was the cool thing to do (didn't so much expect that one ha!). But after he'd been here about three or four weeks, that all stopped and she returned to the potty and sleep. She still has a few more accidents each week than she was having before, but overall, she's pretty much returned back to "normal."
She is full of life at every moment she's awake- busy and bustling about. She truly adores Abram- asking to hold him, asking to nurse him (bless it- I'd share if I could, sister!), and begging me to lay him on his playmat so she can lay with him. After about two weeks of him, every time he cried she'd run to me and say, "Mommy! Abram needs to nurse!" I'd say she definitely gets the newborn phase ;) Most of our reminders have been to not to love him quite so hard...
She's 29 months now, and in all honesty, the last several months have been more challenging-- even before Abram arrived. She pushes boundaries and tests her limits, and she's tried defiance on for size more often than I'd like to remember. Some days the exhaustion of patient correction and consistency catches up with me-- that happens more often than I'd like to admit too. Patience with her and her more challenging phases has usually come easily to me-- I expect little people to do little people things. But that same quick temper that rises up in her is all too familiar for me. It's easy for me to find discouragement in that. I hate feeling like she's inherited some of my ugliest traits. More times than I'd like to remember in the last 3 months, I've snapped at her in my response- and as soon as those words exit my mouth I'm astounded-- not by the words but the tone that I've used to deliver them, frustrated with myself that I could bruise her little spirit in my impatience. If there's anything I've learned in the last three or four months, it's to be quick to humbly admit my error and ask for forgiveness from her. I've had to preach the gospel at myself over and over again-- I will never be enough. But grace bridges that gap. We aren't and never will be perfect parents. I'll make mistakes and regret them almost immediately, and the best thing we can do is drive the gospel home to her-- not through our perfection but through our honesty and our humility. I pray that in our errors and in her errors she sees what grace looks like. That when she errs, I am quick to correct her and even more quick to offer forgiveness. That when we err, we are quick to apologize and correct our errors. She apologizes on her own accord quite often- a lot of times saying "I'm sorry I impatient with you." (I think she's heard that a time or ten). And she is always quick to forgive. "I give you, Mommy." We don't do parenting perfectly, but we do love really well in this home. And "love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8. I hope that stands out to her most.
It's a fine line in parenting, not making my mess hers. At the end of the day, I often find myself unpacking the heavier parts of my parenting. I never want to take myself off the hook in my responsibility to demonstrate patience and godliness to her. I never want to pretend that my struggles can't or won't impact her decisions and responses. But I also don't want to make her messes fully mine. We want to teach her responsibility and accountability for her actions, to train her to choose godliness even when it's hard. There's a balance in there. And striking it is what makes parenting hard sometimes.
But if I've learned anything in the last two and half years of parenting, it's that phases come and go. Some are really easy and some are really hard, but they don't last forever. We just do our best to keep teaching and keep loving and keep offering grace. Almost always, the harder phases push me closer to the Cross, and that's a good place for me to be... especially in my parenting. Tommy is there already- he's normally just waiting for me to catch up!
One day, I believe her strong willed little spirit will grow her up into a strong willed woman, who isn't easily swayed by the culture. Who isn't afraid to question what is mainstream and to stand her ground in doing something different. In the deepest parts of me I truly believe that about Abi Kate. She is beautiful and fiery.. And I know that Christ makes beautiful things out of the wreckage within us-- I'm living proof.
I've looked at my babies more time than I could count in the last few weeks and feel undeniably grateful for them and for all they've brought me. For as trying as many moments have been with our red headed girl, she is the one who turned me into a momma. And bless her, being our first child, she gets all the "guinea pig" learning that we do as parents. Just for that, she' s incredible in her own right. ;) This time with her has really made me consider my position as a child of God- it wasn't when I was at my best that God poured out the extravagance of His love and pursuit of me. It was when I was at my worst. "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:18. I can't offer her any less than what's been offered to me. That verse has been so sobering for me in recent days, in hard moments when two year old behavior is at its highest and I'm frustrated with myself. Praise God for a Gospel that keeps redeeming us.
What is the best thing in the world? Mommy
She can be a handful but she's also so funny. She really talks nonstop, and I love that about her. I like hearing all her thoughts (and she's got a lot of them!). The first time we were in the car together, Abram started crying. She looked over at him really tenderly and said, "Abram. We don't be ungrateful." ;) She also ran into her room the other day and said, "Mommy you 'barass me!" Isn't that supposed to start when she's like 14?!
Most of the things that make me feel like she's a baby are slipping away. She only wears a diaper at nap and at night now. She moved to a toddler bed back in February and loves her big girl bed. And two weeks ago she gave up her paci that she still used to fall asleep with (that went much more smoothly than I anticipated!) She's just growing up.
These moments almost never happen anymore... But I love it when they do. I'm glad Tommy was home and grabbed my phone just in case it doesn't happen again for 6 more months :)
When she was 28 months, I did a little interview with her. I just asked her the questions and wrote down what she said word for word....
Interview with Abi Kate
What makes you happy? Mad (I might've thought this was just a random answer. But on this day, being mad did make her happy!)
What do you want to be when you grow up? I wish I could be a princess. No! I'm not a princess!
What makes you mad? I'm not mad
What does mommy do with her friends? Go bye bye
What is the funniest word? That sounds like a giggle fest
What scares you? Can I hold Abram? I'm hungry
If you had lots of money what would you buy? The caterpillars
What's the hardest thing to do? Hmmm.... I don't know.
Who is your best friend? Abram
What is the best thing in the world? Mommy
See those last two? She knew I needed that... :)