Lord, give me strength: my baby is becoming a toddler.
Homing in on a year and a half, baby is fully into the transition into being a person with her own, fully-expressed, needs and preferences. It’s wonderful. I want to nurture it. I love to discover how she sees the world and what she wants. It’s exhausting. I have no idea how to get done what I need to do while respecting her autonomy.
Her voice is louder now than before. When she’s tired, the melt-downs are a lot more obvious. When she cries, you definitely can’t miss it. When she’s happy, it’s a joy (that hasn’t changed!).
She’s learning and expressing so much. She knows lots of colours, a wonderful variety of other words, all said in her own inimitable style, and a wonderful assortment of other words that we don’t know.
She frequently doesn’t want to put on clothes. Not a problem: unless her extremities feel cold (frequently), or we need to leave the house and it’s not warm enough to go shirtless and pantsless (always). Please tell me pantsless is a word. How are we supposed to manage that? If going cloatheless is an option (I think I just lost my ability to spell) I take it. No problem! I respect her right to choose. If we can delay departure, no problem! I encourage her to keep playing or do what she needs to do until she’s ready to dress and leave.
But, as is often the case, I usually need to get her dressed and out the door far before she wants to go. I can give her minutes, but not hours. Rolling into work at 10 isn’t a great option; and getting home by 7 p.m. is a lot too late to be manageable. So, we give notice (leaving soon, leaving very soon), we model (dress ourselves), we encourage, we distract, we make it a game, we give choices (this jacket, or that?), we inspire (or bribe, or whatever you want to call it: “when you get home, who’s going to be there? Dada!” or “Come play with owl in the car!” or “We’ll walk around outside for a while before we get in the car seat”). For the record, I’m fundamentally opposed to bribing and I don’t think that’s really what we do, but maybe it is.
Husband thinks we need to be firm but loving. I have no idea. I do know that figuring out how to respect her choices and preferences while doing what needs doing is wearing me out a bit. I hope to come up with something principled and useful, but it’s not in sight at the moment.
For now: baby’s asleep, and I’m resting. Aaah.