There is an initiation process into the training years. It all starts about the time babies decide they can and shall have their own opinions. Opinions arrive like baby teeth, except without warning and there is no pharmaceutical (or natural for that matter) remedy.
It all started here one day when, during a diaper change, the soiled party decides that he or she doesn't want to lie still. He or she tries to roll away doing a full-body-leg-over-bowed-back thing while screaming in disapproval and then finally --- the big finish--- sticks his or her hand in the offended part of the diaper. And then the next in line follows suit. Then the next.
Then there is mealtime. After chopping enough bite-sized food for three and dishing it up, each baby moves to dropping it on the floor... because it just looks so nice down there:) And then they scream when they realize there is no more food left to eat on the table. Have I mentioned that these babies can eat!?! Oh my. They love to eat. When they are finished inhaling everything in sight, any food remnants are stuck to various parts of their bodies. So I clean each baby. And then the floor. And the highchairs. Three times a day.
Then they play--- or more like they move around the play yard in a herd after the exact same toy. Next, someone gets stepped on (more about that in a minute), while another gets whacked in the head by some educational, plastic object. At this point, they all take a vote and decide collectively that play yard time is over, stand at the edge, and scream. One guy even tries to climb out. Settling a full-blown, triplet tantrum is sometimes like trying to get three cats to take a bath in a whirlpool.
Just in case you are concerned, I am not new to all of this. I know how to teach baby signs, discern childishness verses foolishness, and kindly give a cue when faced with unacceptable behavior. This stage is fairly straight forward. Knowing what I know from first hand experience about future stages makes "Stop" and "No touch" seem pretty simple. The thing that is the kicker is that I now am doing it three times more than I am used to. It is quite taxing.
But it isn't always like this. When I take a break and sit in the floor with them, they one by one, pull up to my face and tell me something they think is completely fascinating. It may be a syllable or even part of a word. Sometimes it is "MaMa" which makes me melt. The cherry on top is that they all have begun laying their little heads on my lap or shoulder with an audible sigh.
They also copy each others' movements, clap, high-five, and wave. They give the sweetest kisses, even though it looks more like they might want to bite more than kiss. They all pull up on everything, stand strong, and dance when they hear music. Eliana says, "Baaaaay-beh!" (as in Chantilly Lace by The Big Bopper).
And yes, Isaac is walking around like he has been doing it his whole life. He giggles when he makes it a couple of feet and makes himself fall down.
Then there is nap time. They are the best sleepers I have ever known. And I absolutely love walking into their room after a nap and see each smiling face peering over the side of each crib.
There are the moments I allow myself to look at them and think, "Just two years ago, you were frozen... in a straw... in a lab."
There are a lot of things I don't know about mothering three littles and two big boys at these stages. There are many things I am learning. But one thing I do know, I want the babies and their big brothers to come to me as Mommy with hands spackled with smashed peas, ready with slobbery kisses, sweet smiles, tantrums, and all. They all ~every day~ show me tangibly what it means to be made in the image of God and very much in need of Him. Then I am reminded that they are a picture of how I am as I move toward Jesus as He bids me come. And it is beautiful.