I touched a little on remembering the toddler years as a step mom, but not really into detail. So here it goes.
I felt like a crazy person, all the time! Most of the munchkins 2’s and 3’s were spent chasing and learning how to manage 2 toddlers. They were developing their personalities but at the same time I didn’t quite see it like that. I thought they were out to get me, to see how much I could handle, to push every single button I had. Obviously they weren’t, they were toddlers for goodness sakes. But I was new at this. I didn’t
understand know them yet. I mean, they were just beginning to make sense when they talked. The pointing and noises were beginning to become words demands.
Going to the grocery store or any store for that matter wasn’t always fun in the beginning. “Give me this. Give me that. I NEED that. I NEED this.” Pouting, temper tamtrums, and stares from other customers. I finally decided I need to step up as a parent and tell them “No” instead of just ignoring it and having hubby deal with it later. I wasn’t going anywhere, so they needed to see me as a parent figure if I was going to get them to respect me. That was my “ah-ha” moment.
That truly changed everything. Hubby and I were parenting TOGETHER. This wasn’t a one man/woman show, we were in this together. We wanted to show the kids we are all a family. No matter whose house they are at, we are ALL family. We might not have the same rules like their mom does, but that doesn’t make her way wrong or our way wrong. Families love and support each other, but they also RESPECT and LISTEN to each other.
Our little family of 4 started making our own family traditions. We would read 3 books every night. Each kid would pick out a book, then they would pick one out together. (trying to teach them to work together) They picked silly books, long books, and even sing-a-long books. But after each book, they would give each other a hug and kiss and off to bed they went. No fuss. It was our thing we did every night they were over. This routine was very helpful to everyone. We all had a break together at the end of the night. Each kid nestled into my arms while Hubby read the books. We should really start doing that again, I’m sad we don’t. I feel like we replaced it with shows we all watch together. Maybe I’ll mention that to everyone next week.
It was hard to always hear the constant comparison to their mom from the munchkins. “Mom does it like this too. Mom showed me that too. Mom likes that show too. Mom bought me that too.” Part of me always wanted to say COOL, but I had to stop and think….and I thought wow, what a compliment. They are seeing me as a mother figure. Apparently their mother and I must be on the same parenting page. I didn’t get to that conclusion easily though, it took me a long time. I think it’s because I didn’t want to be LIKE her. And I’m not. We just do some of the same things with the kids. And she’s their mom. And that’s OKAY. Love, support and respect.
I do miss their tiny voices though. I miss Little Miss’s sweet angelic voice, and Little Man’s “Roars!” For 2 years he thought he was a T-Rex. Sometimes I think he still does. Boys will be boys. That’s another thing I didn’t understand….Little Boys.
Little boys are disgusting. They pee wherever they see fit, they collect rocks in their pockets, fart at the dinner table, burp in the middle of prayer, and to them, mud is equivalent to soap. I had a hard time at first adjusting to all that Little Man had to offer. Full of wonder and disaster, all at the same time. Looking back now, I think I got pretty lucky with Little Man. He has such a big heart, and he understands SO much. He is a GREAT big brother, but he has also become a pro at getting under his sister’s skin. I will never forget the time they were playing downstairs and all of a sudden Little Man appeared at my feet as I was folding towels. “Where is your sister at? Is she hiding?” (they loved to hide and have us find them) Then all of a sudden I hear her screaming. I ran down the stairs and there she lied, on the ground, legs tied up with a jump rope. “What were you thinking?!” I asked Little Man. “She too bossy!“…. But that’s all normal, right? Boys will be boys.
Little Miss is in a category all on her own. She is a spit fire. Full of sass and spunk, she always has been. She does not let anyone tell her she can’t do something. She has been like that since she was 18 months old. I watched her crawl through entire playscapes that were meant for kids who could at least walk before she ever knew how to. Fearless. It use to scare the crap out of me. You know the helicopter moms you hear about? That was me the first year with her because she wasn’t taking “you’re too little” as an answer. I didn’t want her to get hurt, but I also didn’t want their mom to kill me if they got hurt on my clock. I use to be terrified that some thing would happen, and I would be the one to blame because the kids were with us. But guess what I learned, SHIT happens. Kids will fall down and get bruises. That doesn’t mean you aren’t a good parent, it just means you are letting them be kids. I had to have trust in our parenting style and believe in the end, it will make them stronger.
When I first moved in they would stand in their bed/crib and yell for their daddy every morning they would wake up. Same went for nap time. After time went on, my name was starting to be called out. They were asking for me! I was becoming a comfort to them, a constant. That feeling was amazing. I would grab them out of their beds and we would cuddle and watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse until Hubby woke up. It was our special time together in the morning. I wish real life had mouse-ka-tools ready and available like that. Wouldn’t that be nice!
Once Little Man was in Kindergarten, it was just Little Miss and I at home together. She would help me with EVERYTHING. I had a little helper with laundry, cleaning, and other odds and ends. We painted nails, played dress up, and watched girly cartoons since Little Man wouldn’t watch them with her. So not so bad, unless you missed her nap time. Talk about World War III in the house. If she wasn’t happy, no one else was aloud to be happy. Let’s just say we didn’t miss nap time at our house. You pick your battles, and she clearly won that one.
The year they both were in school full time, I cried. I cried and cried. My special times with them were gone. Our extra hours of morning cuddles were gone. Our babies, weren’t babies anymore. They were students. Now I have the whole house to myself during the day, but I still miss those little moments. The toddler giggles, dances, and laughter. I’m proud of how grown up they’ve become, but I will never forget those innocent years. As horrifying as it was, I sure did learn a lot about Family and how we will always be one. No matter what. We will always love, support, respect, and listen to each other. That’s just what our family does.