Lessons from My Toddler: Moving On

Let me paint the picture for you.

I’m running about 15 minutes late to put my daughter down for her nap. A meeting I was holding remotely ran over by about 10 to 15 minutes. My father was watching her during this time and she was a perfectly content little toddler. I would have heard her if she wasn’t!

Once I finished my meeting, I followed our routine, I nursed my daughter and laid her down in her crib so she could fall asleep. I sit next to her crib while she dozes off and then sneak out like a ninja once she is asleep. Usually I wait a few minutes after she falls asleep before I leave so I don’t wake her when I get up. This particular nap I thought, “Well she’s going to fall asleep fast since we are running a little bit late. She probably could have gone down about 20 to 30 minutes ago.” So I give her a big squishy kiss on the cheek and lay her down and she shuts her eyes within a minute or 2 and seems to be dozing off.

I had yet to even attempt to leave and those beautiful blue eyes pop back open. “No big deal” I think. This isn’t out of the ordinary for her to start to sleep and wake back up for a second. She’s fine at first, she’s not upset she’s just moving back-and-forth a little and saying, “mamma,” “mamma,” “mamma” over and over. I smile at her and just gently lay her back down the crib with a little pat on the butt.

Oh boy, things take a turn when she gets past her sleep window. This continues, now 30 minutes later she’s very upset and fussy and she’s asking for teta. This is Spanish for breast and what she says when she wants to nurse. So I think, “Ok, if that’s going help you, then you know what, at this point forget what I needed to get done during your nap, I’ll just let you lay in bed with me and take your nap.”

You are currently thinking, “This must be where this boring story ends.” NOPE! I’ll fast forward for you though. Nurse. Cuddle. Time keeps ticking, she can’t fall asleep and gets to the point of exhaustion where she is screaming and crying, absolutely hysterical. Nothing I’m doing is helping her she’s just getting more worked up and more worked up. This went on for well over an hour. I tried all the things. I knew she needed to fall asleep, by this time her eyes were closed she was so exhausted and the screaming just exhausted her even more.

I am past stressed and frustrated to full blown anxiety over what to do with this precious child. I decided to just get her up after all the failed attempts to soothe and cuddle her back to sleep. Then, the lightbulb moment! I thought, “Ok let me try putting her in the stroller and will just go on a walk and hopefully that will calm her down so she can take a nap.” Praise the Lord, she calmed down within a minute or two. It took her a bit to fall asleep, but she was CALM! As a mother it is so hard to see your child completely hysterical and upset Although she isn’t the best sleeper, behavior like that is not her normal.

Now, why did I spend so much time describing this horrible no, nap situation? To help put you in my mindset of frustration. I was so tense and upset by the time she was asleep. I was frustrated with the things I knew I wouldn’t be able to get done since I was spending her nap strolling her instead of working. I was anxious about why she had such a big meltdown. I was tense from trying to calm down such a high level of emotion for so long.

As I was walking there was an older woman out sweeping her driveway and she saw me and smiled and said, “It is such a beautiful day, I just love days like this!” Even though Adaline was calm at this point, my mind was still spinning. All I wanted to say to this lady was, “Do you have any idea what I just went through for the last hour and a half?” But of course I didn’t say that I smiled at her and said, “Yes it’s gorgeous out!” What a blessing I ignored in that moment. I don’t know what I would’ve done if it were a rainy day. I was too focused on being upset in that moment to recognize this.

After we finished our walk Adaline was still asleep and I wasn’t poking that bear, so I continued to let her sleep in the stroller. When Adaline woke up I was tentative at first because I didn’t know if my sweet daughter was going to be waking up or the tyrant toddler!

Well. The sweetest little girl is who woke up. She opened her eyes and immediately smiled at me like nothing had happened. Mind blown. We can learn so much from our children if we allow ourselves to. She had completely moved past our little fiasco. She wasn’t upset with me for not being able comfort her when I was holding her. She just moved right on from this moment. She doesn’t let one negative moment, even though it was a very lonnng moment, affect the rest of her day. What a beautiful ability to have!

When she woke up I was still tense. My jaw was clenched, my shoulders were still tight. I can’t help but laugh at myself and laugh at how we tend to just take our kids for granted and ignore the lessons they can teach us. We’re so focused on what need to teach them, that we forget to allow them to show us what a blessing it is to just appreciate the simplicities in life and live in the moment.

The moral of her lesson today was to move on. We may have stressful situations everyday, but we need to leave them behind, once we are past them. Why do we continue to stress about events once the moment is over? (I’m obviously referring to mundane stresses and not traumatic events). What a precious little gift she gave me, what a precious little lesson.

Once I I recognized that she had completely move past it, then I was able to relax. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Not today. This momma learned a lesson from her toddler!

We can all take this lesson with us and try to remember it as often as possible. How many times in your week do you get a snarky look from somebody in the store when your child is being loud or you have a coworker make a passive aggressive comment towards you. We tend to just obsess about these moments and go over them again and again and again. Once the moment has passed, it does us absolutely no good. What my daughter taught me today was a great reminder to have your moment, but when it’s over, it’s over, move on with your day.

I hope we can all remember this lesson so we can appreciate the good in our days and not get stuck on the stressful moments. Seeing the world through the eyes of a toddler is such a blessing. It strips us back to our core. It allows us to see things as they are in black and white again, without having to muck up the picture with all the grays.

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