So here's the thing about having a two-and-a-half-year old: It's quite possibly the cutest stage of all time. Sloan is on the precipice of so much, and watching her change on a daily basis is a thrill. She communicates so well (and when she can't, the way she mispronounces certain words slays me), starts spontaneous dance parties almost hourly, and demands cuddles as soon as she wakes up. There are parts about her that make me feel like she's still a baby—her chubby legs, the way she curls into a ball while she sleeps, and how she nuzzles into my cheek when she's not feeling well. But then there's another side of her that's been emerging with increased regularity. And it's very different.
Everyone has heard about "the terrible twos," and I foolishly thought a good portion of those toddler-aged tantrums had to do with parenting mistakes. Oh, how easy it is to make assumptions until you're in a situation yourself. Like many parents can attest, the emotions at this stage shift on a dime, going from loving angel to screaming demon, and back again. Sometimes there are distinct reasons, and sometimes it's impossible to figure out the source. What we've come to realize is this developmental stage is liberating for Sloan, but also incredibly frustrating for all of us. She's suddenly gained a ton of new skills and knowledge but isn't fully capable of harnessing or managing them.
We've also seen a major shift in her sleep patterns. Whereas she used to go to bed at around 7pm and not make a peep until 12 hours later, she now bellows for us throughout the night. And she's not sad or scared - literally just calling our names to chit chat. Our pediatrician likens it to "toddler FOMO," which I find hilarious. She's so excited about everything she can now do that she just wants to be awake and part of the party. Before she started school, she was painfully shy, and now carries herself with an impressive amount of confidence. Instead of hiding behind my leg when meeting new people, she now saunters up and announces, "Hi! I'm Sloan!" And that kind of assertiveness translates to all of the decisions she insists on making herself - what she wants to eat, wear, and do. We try to balance this freedom of expression with necessary boundaries, but it's not always easy.
The other morning, I was on the phone with my mom and told her how I wished I could pause time because this age is so adorable. Sloan had just announced that she wanted to "wear a pretty dress" and then appeared in the kitchen in a tutu minutes later. My mom and I said our goodbyes and I continued making Sloan's breakfast. She thanked me for her eggs, but when I couldn't decipher her music she requested that I play, she lost it. Eggs flew at my head, she bucked around in her high chair, and screamed for me to "leeeeeave!" I texted my mom back and simply wrote, "never mind." It's almost as if the adorable moments need to be balanced by more challenging times so that parents aren't too devastated when this stage passes.
Even though this stage is ominously known as being "terrible," the bond Sloan and I have has never been stronger. We have funny inside jokes, she sings made-up songs, and she loves with a physical intensity that makes her whole body shake when we hug or kiss. It's easily the most rewarding and heartbreaking stage so far. I've made a ton of mistakes and am learning more about being a mother now than I probably did her first two years, but the best moments we share are some the happiest of my life, and I can't wait to see what comes next.