“Sweet Pea’s discovery of the day: if you put a bowl of Cheerios on the floor and give it a little kick, a few will jump out. Try it several more times. Then kick it really hard, and the entire bowl will flip over. I watched the entire thing while laughing. I’m a more relaxed mom this time around than I was 10 years ago, lol!”

My journal entry above was a moment of discovery for me. When my children were toddlers, I would have been frustrated by an emptied bowl of cereal. But now I laugh!

God blessed me with a poor memory. Had I remembered how toddlers could be so busy, adventuresome, defiant, destructive … I may have said no to opening our home to a foster baby and would have missed a huge blessing! I have to admit that I’m enjoying Sweet Pea, our foster toddler, much more than I ever enjoyed our older children during this stage. It helps that I have three older children to entertain and help with her — and that so many cool baby products have improved or been invented (Bumbo seat, no-spill snack cups, disposable place mats that stick to the table, to mention a few of my favorites!).

I am also older, wiser, and much more relaxed with this toddler. Experience has taught me not to get my hopes up because she can say the word “potty.” I now know that running to the pediatrician with a minor fever will waste two hours of my time, and the diagnosis will be “ a virus. Push clear liquids, treat fever only if necessary, plenty of rest, call back if more symptoms arise or if the fever lasts longer than three days.” A bath towel placed under the booster seat makes clean-up quicker. A pillow case makes an excellent changing pad in public, is thinner to carry, and is easier to wash. A toddler who gets plenty of rest is much easier to deal with. It’s easier to get out the vacuum at the end of the day than to nag her about every dropped piece of cereal.

Had I stuck by my plans of taking older children and said no to this baby over a year ago, I would have missed out on sticky toddler kisses, laughing at her yelling, “Pizza, pizza, pizza,” when eating lasagna, reveling in her new discoveries, and loving her birth family.

I think God gave us a toddler in our mid-30s to remind us to laugh more, take naps, not worry about our possessions (a toddler will mar them), and  treasure each stage our children go through — regardless of how difficult it seems at the time.

I feel like I’ve been given a “do-over.” And while it includes sleepless nights, spilled apple juice, and tantrums, I realize it’s a chance not many are given!