My dear, sweet toddler—I just wanted to say, I’m sorry for not listening to you.

Earlier today, I was standing at the kitchen sink elbow-deep in dishwater and thought, when you bounded over to me with a grin plastered across your face. In an excited heap of words, you spouted something about a dinosaur and a baseball bat.

I’m not really sure what you were getting at. Instead of stopping what I was doing long enough to ask you to slow down and repeat yourself, I gave you a nod and a quick, “Oh, cool!” before turning to continue my scrubbing.

For just a split second, I caught a glimpse of emotion flicker in your bright blue eyes. Was it hurt? Confusion? Annoyance? Frustration? As quickly as it appeared, it was gone, and off you ran to play in the other room.

That moment stayed with me into the evening hours, and I just wanted to say . . . I’m sorry.

I’m sorry, because it wasn’t the first time I didn’t listen to what you had to say.

I’m sorry, because I dismiss your toddlerisms more often than I’m proud to admit.

I’m sorry, because you are so, so very important to me, but I don’t always show you that.

Sometimes when you hit me with a rapid-fire string of questions, the way three-year-olds do, I zone out. I start giving you generic responses of, “Uh-huh,” and “Oh, I don’t know.”

Or when I’m in the middle of something, I pass you off with a, “Why don’t you go tell your daddy about it?”

There are times when I’m so preoccupied scrolling through my phone that I nod my head and pretend to hear you, when really—I have no idea what your sweet little mouth is jabbering about.

I get on to you for “NOT LISTENING TO ME!” . . . and then fail to do the same for you.

I’m sorry for how seldom I get down on your level, look you in the eye, and listen—really listen—to what you have to say.

That moment earlier today opened my eyes and, to be honest, it stings a little bit in hindsight.

Our days of dinosaur talk are numbered.

This phase when you think I know it all won’t last forever, and rightfully so. There will come a time in the not-so-distant future when you’ll begin to keep secrets and you’ll roll your eyes as I try to give you my two cents about much of anything.

But right now, for just this sweet season, you seek my undivided attention.

I don’t want to waste these opportunities to listen to you while they’re here within reach. I want what’s important to you to become important to me, too.

I want to listen to all of the little things you tell me, so that we’ll both be ready as those things grow bigger, deeper, heavier. If I show you I’m invested now, maybe you’ll still believe it when you’re sixteen.

So I’m sorry, sweet toddler, but I want you to know I’m going to try to be a better listener.

You mean the whole wide world to me, and my ears are finally ready to prove it.

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So God Made a Toddler

Dear Toddler, Thank You For Loving Me at my Most Unlovely

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Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the beauty and chaos of life through the lenses of motherhood, marriage, and mental health. To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward