I was going to write about some resolutions for the new year, but quickly realized that I still had more than enough left to accomplish from my old list! I decided to review the past year and instead, share 11 things that I learned in 2011.
1. This too shall pass. Like any parent with a toddler/preschooler, we went through a variety of less-than-desirable traits such as not wanting to take a bath, temper tantrums and screams of “Ayaaaw!” among others.
I was always told that these were just “phases” and would pass—with the right disciplinary tactic, of course—but there were times when the “phases” seemed to last a lifetime and nothing seemed to work!
But always (fingers crossed that this doesn’t jinx it), they would eventually get worked out of my daughter’s system (only to be replaced by another new challenge). Whether it really was just a phase or an employed tactic, I don’t know, but I do know that when you want to pull your hair out of frustration, it helps to stop, take a deep breath and repeat to yourself, “this too shall pass!”
2. Not to be too confident about the good stuff. As I mentioned above, the bad moments won’t last forever. Unfortunately, neither do all the good things. I was so sure I had hit the jackpot as I watched my daughter kiss everyone in greeting and walk beautifully as flower girl for one wedding after another. Until she didn’t. With toddlers, keep in mind—tomorrow is a different day, different mood.
3. Clean “liquid accidents” from the carpet. I have not even started trying to potty train Juanmi and already, we’ve had “accidents” ever since he learned how to remove his diapers by himself. For some reason, in the past, all the accidents we had were always on the floors. Now, they are concentrated in the carpeted areas!
Fortunately, I picked up this trick when I had no towels on hand and, so far, it has worked pretty well against odors. The first thing to do is to get toilet paper (a lot) and press it against the wet spot until it “soaks” all the liquid up. Put all your weight on the palm of your hand to make it more effective. You’ll have to do this several times until the tissue you press to the spot comes out practically dry. After, you can bring the Domex and Lysol out to brush the spot and finish cleaning.
4. Cut hair. I used to bring Juanmi to a kiddie salon regularly, but one day, before I knew it, the time had come for the full family portrait and his hair was still covering half his face. Ten minutes before we left for my in-laws’ home, I sat down in front of him, held my breath and snipped-snipped away. What do you know? It wasn’t bad! With a little bit more practice, I might have a new career! The problem is, it seems only my son is willing to trust me with a pair of scissors.
5. Kids will adjust. I had actually forgotten about this little lesson, and only remembered it recently while chatting with a friend who is expecting and worried about how their first child would react to the new addition to their family. I remembered how I used to worry about how Adriana would react to Juanmi’s arrival, and when we had him, went to great lengths to help her get used to her brother.
Eventually, I realized (just as everyone had said) that there was not much need to worry because just like every family with more than one child, children will adjust, beautifully. In fact, Adriana is now the one requesting for a new baby. But this time, she says I have to “ask nicely and say please” so that Jesus sends us a baby girl and not a boy.
6. Give my daughter more opportunities to act like an ate. We call her ate at home and regularly tell her that she is the older sister and thus must act accordingly. But how can she if I’m always stepping in and nipping things in the bud, telling her what to do, and treating her like a baby, too?
In the past few months, I learned to step back and let her handle her little conflicts with her brother by herself to help her develop an ate mentality. I noticed that the more I expect from her (while clearly vocalizing such expectations), the more maturely she acts. It’s not always foolproof—sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I guess being an ate is always a work in progress.
7. Bake a mean apple pie. One day, while at the supermarket, my daughter insisted on buying four apples because she said she wanted to bake an apple pie. I have no idea where she got the idea, but I decided to play along, and I am so glad I did! Now, many apple pies later, we have proudly mastered our recipe, and even better, spent many happy hours mixing and baking together before enjoying the final product with the whole family.
8. Not to panic over every cough or fall. I used to worry that every fall would lead to a concussion and think that every fever was dengue. Fortunately, for my sanity and my pediatrician’s, I’ve learned to relax and learn the real symptoms I should watch out for. However, when I do feel uncomfortable with what my kids are going through, I still don’t hesitate to get a real doctor’s opinion to make sure that everything is okay.
9. Not to compare my kids to each other, and especially not to other kids. During visits to my pediatrician’s office, I used to frequently ask him why one child is such, while the other is not or vice versa. He would always give me the same reply, “First commandment, don’t compare!” I can’t say that I’ve learned this lesson completely but, at least, it is at the back of my mind now.
10. The days are long, the years are short. I got this line from a book I discovered this year called “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. I thoroughly enjoyed her book and even wrote about it here once, but it was this line that struck me the most, and I remind myself of it as much as I can in order to fully appreciate and enjoy every moment I can with my kids.
11. The importance of family. The year 2011 was quite a challenging one for us, and we went through some moments which, difficult as they may have been, only served to prove one thing even more clearly—the importance of family. I learned that though everything may be falling apart around us, as long as our family stands as one and supports each other, is safe, healthy and intact, everything will be fine. And best of all, I learned that no matter how bad a day may be, all it takes is a big hug and kiss from two little angels to make it all better.
When I look back at 2011, I can’t help but wonder at how quickly the year passed us by! There were days I wished would never end while other days, I wished I could simply sleep through. Unfortunately, I can’t make time stop and control my days, but I can make the lessons I learn and the memories we create stay with me every day, and hopefully, apply them all in 2012 in order to have a truly happy new year!