10 Ways Living with a Toddler is Supremely Awesome

The Huffington Post blog had a post yesterday entitled “10 Ways Living With a Toddler Is Like Being in Prison.” Yes, it was mildly humorous, and yes, some of the sentiments will resonate with parents of children of that age, and yes, there is some comfort in sharing stories and jokes about our kids to reinforce that it ain’t just my kid that is doing some crazy, headache-inducing stuff.

The Catholic blogosphere has been abuzz lately about comedian Jim Gaffigan, who publicly admits to being Catholic and to being unapologetic about having five kids. (For my money, Brian Regan is preferable; clean and clearly loves his wife and kids as does Jim, but is slightly funnier.) The bulk of the kid-related humor of both Jim and Brian is the combination of difficult and just plain weird situations in which a parent finds himself. So, I get it; it’s comforting, fun, and funny to make jokes about how raising kids is hard.

Supremely awesome dudes

Supremely awesome dudes

I’m sure I’m being too sensitive, but comparing life with a toddler to life in a prison, even in jest, is sadly unsurprising in a culture that shows diminishing respect for and enjoyment in children. From little annoyances like “We can’t go to the movies tonight because we can’t find a sitter” to the horror of abortion, children are increasingly frowned upon as interrupting the aspirations (be it work, entertainment, or even sleep) of the adults who care for them.

To summarize, raising kids is difficult because they are selfish, loud, always right in their own minds, needy, and thankless; parenting these little beings requires heroic effort and selflessness from we adults. It’s hard not to see the parallels between this and the relationship between us and God. Am I less selfish, thankless, and self-righteous than my four-year-old in terms of my relationship with God? Hardly. And yet God, Abba, parents me with none of the exasperation and all of the mercy that I fail to exhibit.

I’m sure God (and my wife?) could come up with “10 Ways Living with Tim Shaughnessy is Worse than Being in Prison,” but He just doesn’t think that way because there isn’t an ounce of pride or selfishness in Him. For God, the great good of union with the best of who we are, of being with us as He made us to be, far exceeds the pain of putting up with our sinfulness. He wants us to repent, just as I want our sons to stop jumping on the couch, but He models for us the mercy and forgiveness that all parents should show to their children. Because the Holy Trinity is the model on which human families are based (even families with rambunctious toddlers), life with children sanctifies us. No one ever said sanctification was easy, but better to compare it to a masseuse rubbing out knotted muscles to their original shape than to a prison cell.

And so, in that spirit, here is my list of 10 Ways Living with a Toddler is Supremely Awesome:

  1. You toughen up the skin on your elbows and knees from playing on the floor with them.
  2. You build up cardiovascular endurance as you run laps around the house being the Tickle Monster to one child while holding the other child on your hip.
  3. You develop incredible sleight-of-hand skills, making the object of a sibling scuffle magically disappear after a brief redirection.
  4. You are introduced to unique names, like the names my son gave to his virtual hamsters (phonetically spelled as “Ajee,” “Ajudah,” and “Athee”), or the middle name he suggested for a possible baby sister: “Shirkee.”
  5. You increase your agility maneuvering through playground equipment at top speed.
  6. You improve your apologetic skills by having to explain just how strong God is, how tall He is, and how fast He could fly if He wanted to but that He doesn’t really need to fly.
  7. You understand the incredible mercy of God and what it means to forgive “seventy times seven times.”
  8. You realize the significance of job, reputation, and bank account mean nothing compared to the joy of being united as a family in heaven.
  9. Your child tells you at Mass that he wants to receive Jesus into his tummy, too.
  10. You hear an unsolicited “I love you, Dada!”

Feel free to add more in the comments section.

Bonus #11. You become bilingual, trilingual, or (however many kids you have)-lingual. The word “water” can be translated as “wa wa wa” or “oho.” “Milk” is “bop” or “mit.” “Helicopter” is “no-doggies.” And “Grandpa” is “Batman.”

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Categories:Abortion Culture Humor Marriage Prayer Pro-Life Youth

7 thoughts on “10 Ways Living with a Toddler is Supremely Awesome

  1. InGodWeTrust says:

    2 stories from when our son was in pre-school:

    (As told to us by his teacher)–on Ash Wednesday, the class attended mass with the entire school and each student went up to receive ashes–when it was our son’s turn, he put his hand up (like a traffic cop stopping traffic) towards the priest and said, “No thank you–my mom doesn’t let me rub dirt on my face!”

    During Lent, the class would participate on Friday’s in the Stations of the Cross. When he came home from pre-school that day, we asked him, so what did you do in school today and he replied, we went to the “Gas Stations of the Cross!”

    Sweet memories that we will hold in our hearts for a lifetime–children, no matter whether they are babies/toddlers/teens/adults are a blessing from God–cherish them!

  2. Tim Shaughnessy says:

    Thanks, everyone! We ask St. Joseph and Mary to intercede for us, and to strengthen us and all families, especially those facing difficulties.

  3. Alan says:

    Love this! As I swim in the fog of a culture that is anti-family, anti-children and pro- any thing that provides some temporary and immediate gratification, it is indeed gratifying to hear from others the true joy and rewards of parenting. As my family and I anxiously await the arrival of our 7th child (due dated Aug. 22 – Feast of the Queenship of Our Lady) – I am grateful for your article!

  4. Amy says:

    I’m the first to admit that I am one of those moms of twin four year old girls that did not enjoy the first two or so years after they were born. My husband and I were so exhausted and stressed with moving to a safer neighborhood, dealing with extreme colic and incessant crying, diminishing savings, ill and aging parents and all the other mountains to climb in this life that we did not enjoy our girls then. Now that they are four we are having so much more fun with them. They are sponges soaking every morsel we toss at them. It’s not that our life is any easier (husband has two cancers, my dad is very ill, father-in-law passed away, my sister had kidney cancer, my brother just had a heart attack, we have no money) but what we do have is an enormous appreciation for our beautiful daughters. At each family meal they are crossing themselves better and better and reciting Grace with us. And as I watch them with a vision of their first Holy Communion day on the horizon and I see how sweet and innocent they are.
    But this is a concerted effort to really enjoy them. Loving them is easy – parenting is hard. But now we smile and laugh and learn with them instead of just surviving. And most especially thanking God for them every day!

  5. Kate says:

    Mine are all teens now but, I have been “inspired” to create my own list to share with them. Sometimes it is too easy to complain about all the work involved in parenting at all stages… thanks, this week I will be remembering the blessings.

  6. Abigail says:

    Mine’s not a toddler anymore, but two memorable blessings from when he was:
    1) They believe in the power of prayer, and come up with (sometimes comically) profound prayers. He once laid hands on my head, very seriously, and spontaneously offered up a prayer for my headache to go away so I could make a sandwich for him, “and may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen … feel better now?”
    2) Sometimes, they get to be apologists, too! It’s so easy to weave catechetics into the everyday, to feel like you have so much to teach. And sometimes, those conversations are how God speaks some new (at least to us in those moments) truths. All because we actually listen (gasp!) to our children.

    And we keep these things, and treasure them in our hearts :)

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