Parenting sweet spots: spontaneous "I love yous" and eating raw broccoli

Updated Oct 12 2015
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This dude volunteered to help me make banana bread today. Photo by Stephanie Kaloi.

Right now we're in the midst of what I like to call a "parenting sweet spot" — those weeks or months in which there aren't any major behavioral problems going on, most-to-all of the balanced meals are being eaten, and my child's general disposition is one of a curious, sweet, and incredibly polite little boy. To me, these sweet spots are evidence that the hard work you put in weeks or sometimes years prior has paid off: your kid has actually learned something from you, and that something is good.

Here are a few examples: my kid recently started a music class, and he's been super well behaved so far. All of the children are adorable and bright, but my child patient waits his turn, says "excuse me" and raises his hand when he has a question, and sits criss-cross without being asked. He totally also nudges other kids to speed up their turns and is way over-eager to touch the instruments, but on the whole I've been super proud of his behavior and interactions with his teacher and other kid.

As far as mealtimes go, he's started eating broccoli completely raw (he says he likes to trap it in his "stomach machine") and will munch on snap peas like they're potato chips. He requests "nice, cool, cheap water" (he gets that phrase from his dad) to drink more often than he'll ask for raspberry lemonade (his all-time fave). He's also filled to the brim with so much love for his family that it's always bubbling out of him: he tells us he loves us and means it, and we're the recipients of so many spontaneous hugs, giggles, and kisses that I can't list them.

Is my kid some kind of magical perfect child who just always behaves accordingly? Of course not. Like I said, we're in a sweet spot. Happily for us, we've been in this one for several months now.

We've been in them before — sometimes, in the infant years, he was too young for me to realize that's what was happening. Other times I was SUPER aware of it because all of a sudden parenting felt like one of the easiest gigs on the planet. It's funny how it's easy to forget how hard many parenting challenges are once they're over, right? It's like, barring all recent medical happenings aside, there's been nothing rocking our parenting boat for months.

I feel like it's important to acknowledge these phases in the lives of children — and in our journey as parents — because it's all too easy to get wrapped up in the hard stuff. My kid has faced numerous challenges each month of his life, and we're in and out of the offices of specialists more than I care to share. Let's just say that you can find us at the office of one doctor or therapist at least once a week. And I know my family isn't alone in facing challenges — sometimes relationships are hard or national tragedies feel too overwhelming or you feel like you really suck as a working parent.

Sometimes your kid won't eat dinner or keeps pulling her brother's hair or you just found out he likes to bite other kids in his class. Sometimes you can't figure out how you're ever going to get to shower or breastfeeding totally sucks or you get cancer and don't know what your family's future will look like. Sometimes your kid tells you you're stupid, pulls away from your hugs, and shuts you out.

But sometimes, in between all of the bullshit and the struggle, you hit a parenting sweet spot. All I'm saying is it's good to know when you're there, and to absolutely relish it.

  1. Thank you so much for this. We're at the beginning of "I'm 18 months old, and I can't talk yet, and I just learned to tantrum yaaaaay waaaah". It's good to remember that this too shall pass.

    • Hang in there! My (almost-two-year-old) daughter was at that stage a few months ago, and my spouse and I kept telling each other that she was just frustrated at not being able to communicate well nor deal with her overwhelming emotions. It was still alarming to watch though, and easy to fall into the trap of thinking "the next YEAR is going to be like this, eek!"

      Well, turns out, a month or two passed, and now she is in the SWEETEST phase ever. It's possible she was this sweet before, but she's had so much language development in the last few months that she's able to express her love more clearly now, and it honestly brings me to tears almost every day.

      I mean, seriously, she will spontaneously run over to me to hug my legs tightly and say "mommy mommy mommy!" before running off to play again. I know this phase will end too, and there are certainly more tantrums in our future, but it's still a mind-bogglingly good place to be for now. You'll be there before you know it!

  2. I really like this, Stephanie. Thanks for sharing.

    I try really hard to keep this perspective — even at times when there are lots of sour spots and things aren't too sweet.

    Whenever I think of the phrase "this too shall pass," I remind myself that not only the hard stuff will pass, but also the marvelous sweet stuff, too. I remind myself to value and treasure those aspects of my children, and not just get psychologically burdened by the hard stuff that I hope we can all get through.

    Enjoy your sweet spot!

  3. Thank you; I needed this today. We're in the midst of whatever is the opposite of a parenting sweet spot, and the reminder is nice.

    • Hmmm. We had a problem with it showing up yesterday, but it's been working fine on my mind. Maybe clear your cache and see if that fixes the problem? If not, let me know! ­čÖé

  4. I love to relish in the sweet spots! Surprisingly we're having a sweet spot WHILE my son has chicken pox. He's been wonderful!

    It's important to ID them and be able to look back on the sweet spots when you are clearly out of one. Thanks so much for the reminder!

  5. This is super sweet! I love the idea of "sweet-spots." It kind of keeps a parenting perspective. . . I am also going to totally steal the "stomach machine"– pure awesome!

    • PS– Have you heard the kids' song "blood machine" by they might be giants? That is one that has been popular in our home… made me think of it when I read about the stomach machine!

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