Welcome to the May 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Ages and Stages
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about their children’s most rewarding and most challenging developmental periods. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I have often heard older, wiser mothers tell me that “each stage will be a new favorite” and while I have loved each moment a little more than the last, there are stages that stand out to me as the ones I never want to forget. Liam will be 5 this summer and Sylvi just turned 3, so I don’t have a huge span to draw from, but these are the stages that when my children are all grown up and having their own, I hope to be able to impart my delight for these moments that may seem so small and fleeting, but are just so precious. I cannot say there is one stage that rises above the rest, but I can narrow the choices down to five favorites.
The hidden weeks
Oh my. For me, these weeks were 13-18/20 of my pregnancies. I could feel the baby fluttering and moving, but no one else could. For those weeks, the baby was allllllll mine. My belly wasn’t big enough that people felt the need to touch or comment, but there was enough that at night, I’d lie on the couch and rub it, delighting in the little “bubbles” of movement after. Once these weeks passed, we knew baby’s gender and name. After that point, the baby was property of the world (ok, I exaggerate, but really…people really seem to feel that way about babies!) and I had to start sharing. So to me, those precious moments when I was the only one in baby’s world, those were a favorite.
The first six
Babies never, ever smell that good again. At least not without the help of soap. I mean, in those first few weeks, even their POOP smells good (or at least is barely noticeable in the stink category). And they sigh so sweetly. So if you hand me your newborn, know that I will be breathing deeply… inhaling all that fresh goodness.
At about 9 months, both of my kiddos started being their own person. They moved, but each in their own way. Liam never crawled, Sylvi was a speedster. Liam would carefully pull himself up and then plant his feet firmly, choosing to stay in the same place. Sylvi threw caution to the wind and used pulling up as a method to get to some adventure. Liam never opened my cabinets or drawers — I totally over “baby proofed.” I thought the same would apply for Sylvi only to catch her at 6 months old in the kitchen with all the contents of the kitchen cabinets spread all over the floor. Surprise!
The potty pro
Hands down, potty learning has been my favorite challenge in parenting. I love it. I love that this is my opportunity to teach my child how to actually listen to what their body is telling them. For me, potty learning has been the beginning of my children learning their limits and needs in a new way. Once they start to understand the signals, they are clearer on the other things their body may be trying to tell them: muscle fatigue, overstimulation or thirst. With the mastery of the bowel and bladder, they now know how to not be panicked by what their body may be telling them. Because, if you can hold your pee on the drive home from the grocery, then you can learn keep yourself calm and tell Mama you are thirsty instead of flipping out without knowing why. Learning to listen to your body is one the most empowering skills we can teach! I don’t care about the accidents and laundry, I am just so proud of my babies for each step along the way!
This is where I am right now with Liam. And I cannot get enough. Yes. He asks me zillions of questions every week. And yes, there’s a lot of foot work involved in this stage because with all the questions, I have to find answers. But oh the moment when he gets it. Then the following moment when he applies what he learned. These are the moments that make me excited for Sylvi to reach this stage.
If I am completely honest, I didn’t cherish the little moments while Liam was small. Once the colic took over and the sleep disappeared, it was hard to be joyful. And I hadn’t yet learned to celebrate the little successes in each and every day. If there was nothing else to celebrate that day, he was alive and that alone was a blessing. But I didn’t know it then. And I had not yet the courage to build up a community where I could share how these stages impacted me.
I really think that because I can see these moments so clearly now (some in retrospect and some in real time), I can truly celebrate the awesome and not allow the hard days to overwhelm me. Today, I can tell you that my least favorite stage was my own…. I was awkward and uncomfortable in my own skin, unable to forge friendships that I could be real in and afraid of what others thought of me. Now, my own mama stage is one of growth and strength that has come from the hardships of those first months. This stage of motherhood is making the stages of hitting, whining, and night terrors less overwhelming (although, as I type, they are lying on the floor next to me wrestling and screeching so loudly I’ve written this paragraph over and over because nothing is making sense!!).
Each stage is so different from the one before and even between children, the stages are so different. I am in awe at the newness each day brings me because I cannot get enough of the unique individuality each child brings to our family. Each stage of learning is amazing and I love what I get to experience. I’m just filing away these precious times so that as each stage comes and goes, the joy will remain in my heart to remind me of the blessings in my life no matter where I am in my own stages.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- When Three-Year-Olds Stand Up For Themselves — Parenting Expert Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at her blog, Parental Intelligence, enjoys the stage when three-year-olds dramatically wow their parents with their strong sense of self.
- This too shall pass — In the beginning, everything seems so overwhelming. Amanda at My Life in a Nutshell looks at the stages of the first 1.5 years of her daughter’s life and explains how nothing is ever static and everything changes – the good and the bad.
- Age 5 – Is It Really A Golden Period? — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the developmental norms for the five-year-old set and muses over if this age really is the ‘golden period.’
- How much do you explain to your preschooler when crime touches close to home? — When tragedy strikes someone your preschooler knows, Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings wonders how parents can best help young children cope.
- Thoughts on Toddlerwearing — That Mama Gretchen‘s babywearing days are over, we’re living it up in the toddlerwearing days now!
- Parenting Challenges—Almost a man — Survivor at Surviving Mexico talks about leaving childhood behind as her son turns 12.
- How Child Development Works — Competence Builds Competences — Debbie at Equipped Family shares how each stage of childhood builds on the next. Focus on doing the current stage reasonably well and success will breed success!
- Making Space — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is adjusting her thinking and making room for her babies to stay near her.
- The Best Parenting Resources for Parents of Toddlers — Toddlers can be so challenging. Not only are they learning how to exert their independence, but they simply do not have the developmental ability to be calm and logical when they are frustrated. It’s the nature of the beast. I mean … the toddler. Here are Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s favorite books and articles about parenting a toddler.
- The Fab Five Stages so Far — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen couldn’t choose just one stage for this carnival and is sharing her top five favorite stages in the young lives of her son and daughter at Natural Parents Network.
- The best parts of ages 0-6 — Lauren at Hobo Mama gives a breakdown of what to expect and what to cherish in each year.
- Lessons from Parenting a Three-Year-Old — Ana and Niko at Panda & Ananaso are quickly approaching the end of an era — toddlerhood. She shares some of her thoughts on the last two years and some tips on parenting through a time rife with change.
- Feeling Needed — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders which developmental stage is her favorite and why. She bares it for us, seemingly without fear of judgment. You might be surprised by her answer!