Now honestly, if someone had told me that a year ago I'd have smacked them upside the head. I was a parent the day they handed me my son all bundled up in bloodied hosptial receiving blankets. I was a mother the day I felt him kicking in the womb. I may have even qualified, depending on your point of view, the day I saw him on an ultrasound. Yes, I was a parent long before he hit two.
But did I parent? Sure I was his caretaker. I taught him. I guided him. I kept him safe and well nourished - both body, brain and soul. I comforted him. I humored him. But did I parent him. I used to think so...then came two.
Now I don't want to dimish the work parents do prior to the 2nd birthday. Its all incredibly important and wonderful stuff. Its all part of being a parent. . . all the stuff we do to help our children find their way to milestones, all the sickness we cuddle them through, all the boo-boos we kiss and the wobbly steps we help support - its all important work of a parent.
Two years old, however, is all they say it is and more. Now honestly, for the most part I love two. I love watching my son learn because when a toddler learns its so very clear what's happening - you can all but see the connections meeting up in those little heads. The Aha! moments are written all over their faces. I love listening to his throught process because when Logan works his way through a problem he often does outloud. I love having conversations with him. I love having to figure out ways to stiffle my laughter when he expresses his deeply profound two year old logic. I love hearing the little misprounciations that disappear quickly. (Although he's had trouble saying Yogurt for the longest time. It always comes out Yodurk) I love when he really gets a concept and shows he understands it by expressing it through his words later. I love when he hugs my legs and says "Mommy, I love you so very much." or "You're my best friend."
What I don't love is the other side of two. The testing of limits. I don't love when I tell him not to "Cook" with the dog's food only to watch him reach back into the bowl saying to me as he smiles "No Mommy, its good. Its funny." I don't love the incessant paging for me for no real reason:
"Logan, what do you want?"
"Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy"
"Mommmmyyyyyyyy, mommy! MOMMYYYY!"
"That's it, I'm ignoring you."
I don't love the mischief even though I know its part of a necessary evil - a part of learning his limits, learning what is acceptable and learning there are consquences. I don't love feeing like a kid that can't even tie his own shoes can push my buttons worse than anyone else. I don't love having to be the heavy that sends him to his room. I don't love knowing that part of it all stems from a physical inability to control impluses that all two year olds struggle with.
Parenting begins at two. The part of the job that means setting boundries and enforcing them comes at this age. Yes, this age ushers in the serious issuing of consquences when the borders are breeched. I've sent Logan to his room to 'ponder' his actions more times in the last week than I think I've ever had to do anything to correct his behavior in the last two years. Sure, part of it stems from adapting to a new family member...but most of it is just that he's two.
I find myself doing those things I used to just read about in parenting type magazines as I thought "Gosh, how hooky. Do I really need to sit down and bear hug my child at a playdate?" Yet just last week at the Mom's Group Halloween party I found myself in someone's den sitting on an overstuffed couch and holding a hysterical Logan on my lap hugging him tight and whispering in his ear "Hush now, you're ok. Just relax. That's not your toy. Its Billy's toy. Its not yours. You weren't even playing with it when Michael took it. Logan, honey, I know its hard, but we have to take turns." Of course when you're two everything IS yours and sharing just sucks rocks.
That's when parenting comes in. Its when you hold your child tightly knowing that a small part of you just wants to go tackle Michael to get the toy for your son and yet you tell your kid that he just has to let it go and share.
Parenting is when your kid is standing in the center of Toys R Us on the verge of a tantrum because he really, really, really does NOT want to leave the train table and you manage to pick him up and distract him with carrying your bags from another store. Parenting is when he's about to smack some other kid upside the head with a friend of Thomas the Tank Engine and you whisper in his ear with some bite to your tone "We do NOT hit other people. Put that down right now, I mean it Logan Daniel!"
Parenting is when you have a "discussion" with your child over the merits of not sticking dog food in his infant sister's mouth and manage to control yourself long enough to keep from raising your voice too loudly or using words the FCC forbids use of in broadcasting. Its when you tell him not to climb up on his stool that close to the countertop and then resist sticking out your tongue or saying "I told you so!" when he smacks his head on the edge of it (which is what you have done in the past to your kid brother when he did similar things.)
Parenting is also the good stuff though and perhaps, as I let this fall from my finger tips, the truth is only "I have to displine parenting" starts at two. Real parenting is also when your child succeeds at a task and you puff up with pride. Its when he tells you he loves you and you manage to hug him tight saying "I love you too!" without melting into a ball of tears. Its when you get excited about a holiday you've not been excited over in more than 20 years because its his first (and this would refer to Trick or Treating on Halloween...) Its when you're more excited about seeing him open his gifts at Christmas than getting yours.
Parenting is knowing you can only drift off to sleep tonight when your children are tucked in snug and you've looked in to make sure they're breathing and safe. Its when the thing you miss the most about not being home are the little arms that wait to wrap themselves around your neck - the soft breathe that falls on your cheeck as they nuzzle into you. Parenting is about loving enough to know that its more about being Mom than being that best friend. Parenting is knowing that sometimes scolding makes you feel worse than it actually does him - but you do it anyway. Its knowing that there is nothing that little person can ever do to make you stop loving him. Its knowing that a piece of your heart walks around on its own two legs outside your body with its own little mind.