For about five spectacular days right after we moved to Tennessee, the moons aligned and both of my children were at the perfect age, the sweet spot, where I could spend more time enjoying them than redirecting or reining in their personalities. Ella’s teething and Carson’s tantrums were forgotten and giggles and glee took over. I don’t know if it was their insecurities at living in yet another new place or if they could feel my tension and knew that they needed to be good. Typically they rotate days, sometimes minutes, when one is on their best behavior, with all of their most wonderful toddlerness shining through, while the other one reminds me that intertwined with sweetness is powerful and sometimes earsplitting emotion.
Sure there have been moments where each one is being sweet in their own right, but in the time I’ve been BOTH of their parents, there has never been a string of consecutive days of toddler adoration.
I didn’t write about these days while they were happening, even though I was aware that they’d reached that sweet spot in their ages. I knew that if I wrote about it, the time would surely come to an end simply for the fact of having shared it. Instead, I folded up the experience and put it in my pocket and kept the little, warm secret all to myself. It is so rare for me to feel complete contentment in parenthood that I took those few days and absorbed their wonder.
At 18 months old, Ella is finally walking and charming me at every turn. Her tiny curls that rest on her neck and pink, sparkly shoes are a stark contrast to her love of being as messy as possible and making car noises. Of course, she can also be the quintessential toddler girl, choosing her outfits and playing dress-up with mama’s red shoes. Then there’s her sweet voice, constantly calling, “Maaaaama! Maaaaama!” as she toddles around, wearing one red shoe and her hands full carrying a Thomas train and a dish towel she’s found in the laundry.
Carson is a full-on three years old, but for those precious days he could not have been more lovable. The way he loves his sister and spontaneously tells her how much he loves her while looking in her eyes with much seriousness and conviction, it gives me hope that I’m doing something right. “I wuv you, Mommy,” he’d say sweetly while asking to help wipe off the counters in the kitchen. At bedtime, I could hear him singing himself to sleep, “Hit the road, Jack. And don’t ya come back, no more, no more, no more, no more…” or “Ba-ba-ba Ba-barbara Ann, Ba-ba-ba, Ba-Ba-Barbara A-an, ta-ake my ha-a-and…”
People often ask, or rather seem shocked, when I explain that my children are 18 months apart. I always find myself assuring people that we purposely had our children close together. I’m met with reactions of both relief (thank goodness it wasn’t an accident) and further shock that ON PURPOSE I’d put myself through the agony. I’m certain that whether they were nine months apart or four years, or any difference in age, there would always be difficult times.
Oh, these two toddlers of mine, I’m so thankful for those precious, perfect days. The sweet spot. Especially now that they’re back to their regularly scheduled teething and other sanity-draining behaviors.
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