- pick my battles more wisely: let Tiny be a toddler and don’t expect him to grow up too fast;
- remember that Tiny is only 23-months-old: because his language is phenomenal, I often forget that he’s still so little, and need to adjust my expectations accordingly;
- discuss parenting with Tall, rather than dictate: trust his instincts and let him do things his way, not mine;
- do something special for Tall: show him and tell him how much he means to me; and
- spend time creating special mummy-and-Tiny memories: when Pickle arrives, we won’t get these opportunities again.
The first two are hard to quantify, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say I have been making a real effort to let Tiny be a busy, bustling, occasional-tantrum-throwing, affectionate, playful two-year-old boy. I’ve found myself sitting patiently with him while he picks at and plays with his food before eating it, and haven’t felt the need to rush him. I’ve let him try to do things for himself, and learn from his own mistakes and limitations, because now I know he’ll ask for help when he needs or wants it. I’ve been patient (most of the time…tiredness causes a bit of frustration at times!), and I’ve enjoyed just watching him be a little boy. It hasn’t been easy all the time, but our days have been so much fun since I’ve stopped and really not been worried about the mess or the time or how long something is taking. In fact, I’ve enjoyed letting some of my OCD-neatness go, and in doing so, Tiny has become really good at tidying up his toys before bedtime!
I didn’t tell Tall that I was going to sit back and let him parent instead of do what I told him to do, but he has noticed that I have been asking his opinion, and saying, “What do you think?” instead of just telling him that my way is the way that works. We’ve been sharing putting Tiny to bed at night, too – we alternate nights with who takes him through and tucks him in, and also who responds if he grizzles during his nighttime wind-down – and I think Tall has really enjoyed being part of something which, for the past 23 months, has been solely my domain. I have bitten my tongue a couple of times, and let Tall take the lead with making decisions, and it feels like we’re really doing this parenting thing as a team. I’m conscious that when Pickle arrives, I won’t always be available for Tiny, and it’s lovely to see Tall’s confidence growing with the decisions he makes regarding our son.
With regards to telling and showing Tall how much he means to me, my approach has been little and often. Like letting him have two sleep-ins on the weekend, instead of us having one day each, because he works blimmin’ hard during the week and deserves to take it easy. Or making his favourite meals and ensuring there have been leftovers for his lunch at least four days a week, and encouraging him to organise playing squash with mates. He’s also in the process of organising a poker night at our place, and I plan on making the boys some manly food, and making myself scarce so they can have a really good boys’ night in. These may sounds like insignificant things, but they all add up to me ensuring my beloved is happy and getting the time to do the things he enjoys.
Lastly, Tiny and I have been having lots of mummy-and-son dates, at home and away. We’ve got a new tradition now: after one of our regular weekly activities, we go to a cafe for a hot chocolate and a scone. Sounds simple, I know, but Tiny gets so excited about these little excursions, and the other day, on our way home, his little voice piped up from the back seat of the car: “That was a nice cafe, mummy! I loved our scone.” We’ve had some fun around home, too – spending loads of time in the sandpit and digging in the garden, kicking and throwing a ball around, and sitting down for morning and afternoon tea together. We’ve also done some arts and crafts which has been fun, and I’ve got loads of ideas for things we can do when the weather turns nasty. He may be too little to remember it all, but I know that taking the time to spend doing things with him is well worth it, whether the memories are long-lasting or not.
I really feel like I’ve achieved what I set out to this month, and it’s been awesome. I already knew I loved my boys more than anything, but focussing on it has made me appreciate them even more, and now they know it on a daily basis. I also now know that when our second very-kicky-right-now son arrives, we’ve built an even stronger little family unit for him to be born into.