21 Parenting Experiences & Realizations In The First 3 Years – Z is 3!

3 years old

Z is now 3 years old. 3 years old!! Can you believe it?!


Often, a child starts out as an idea. A wish and a hope. An unknown that you want to find out. Then it becomes a seed, growing into an existence first felt by the mother. When the child finally joins you on the outside as a newborn baby, the unknowns become realities and we wade through the intensely demanding and rewarding process that is raising a human being. We hope we can be the parents we thought we would be when that child was but an idea in in mind of familial bliss. What seemed so simple as we judged the parents who were in the thick of it, while we watched in ignorance from the sidelines, suddenly becomes an immense challenge to navigate the needs of both parent and child, and hopefully make it through without “messing them up too bad’. Without losing ourselves in the process.

Today, my baby – who is no longer a baby, but will be forever my baby – turns 3 years old. To commemorate the fleeting moments of the one and only childhood in which I’ll ever play the role of Mother, I’m going to share a few memories I’m holding on to from the past three years. If you are just starting out on your parenting journey, these may be some of the moments and realizations you have to look forward to, or are perhaps already enjoying.

3 years old parenting experiences

Looking Back As Z Turns 3 Years Old

Bouncing up and down, walking the halls, desperately trying to figure out the off switch on my squishy new baby.

The extreme power with which a newborn can expel feces, rocketing from window to wall, ceiling to floor, and all over everything in between. Then helpless laughter of “Oh my gosh, now what?!”

The tears of relief and happiness flowing, as you finally grasp success in breastfeeding. Trust me – it doesn’t always come naturally for baby or mom.

breastfeeding motherhood mom

Realizing that, now that you’re responsible for something 24/7 who needs you mentally and physically at all times, getting sick or becoming injured is a serious problem. Keep well, mama.

Watching my little one learn to walk just before her first birthday (and in our case, taking her first real series of steps around the pool table in the local pub. Parenting at it’s finest, ladies and gentlemen). Now she can run, jump, skip, dance, roll, flop, and boogie all around with her “crazy tricks”.


Hearing my baby call me mama for the first time, then quickly gain an impressive vocabulary of words between her second third birthday.

Swelling with joy as I listened to my daughter make up and sing her first original songs as we sat around our fire pit.

Experiencing the heartwarming that happens when your little one can physically and verbally express her love back to you. Oh my heart!

Watching her bond with her father, and getting to see a new side to the man I knew before her. Something about a man loving and caring for a child makes my heart swoon.

Realizing that you can’t control it all. There are an indefinite number of other people in her life that will introduce her to all kinds of things you wish they wouldn’t, and she will eagerly express her own independence. You actually have very little control as a parent, so use your powers wisely, and learn to let go of the little things. You baby will not die because she crawled on a floor cleaned with non-green cleaners. It will be okay. I promise.

Being present for the growing and curiosity of a human being who is experiencing so much newness. You will be asked questions you never considered, and wonder about things like “Do slugs puke?” right alongside your children. Curiosity is catching.


Noticing more about yourself and your interesting mannerisms, when you watch your child and wonder “Where on Earth did they pick that up?”, then realizing they are mimicking you. Oh, the things you never knew you always do.

The immense relief (and slight sadness) when you realize that they can survive without you (and happily, too). That first day, night, or even hour away by yourself is a whole new experience after having children. Freedom never felt so good! (But I do wonder how they’re doing right now…)


Feeding your baby their first “solid” food. The journey of eating can be such a joyous and frustrating experience. You will lose far more food to the floor than you imagined, and you’ll probably end up feeding them the exact things you said you never would, since you were going to be the perfect parent with the perfect child. (Ha!!)

New and old has even more importance and excitement now that you have fresh eyes to share it with. Whether you’re wandering your neighborhood, or on the other side of the world, life becomes so much more exciting and interesting than ever before. There is so much to share!!

Hannah Spray mom and toddler

Stepping back and realizing that they are still so little, despite how they’ve grown, and that you are the adult. Take it easy. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Respond with kindness, honesty, and humour rather than getting all worked up because they don’t want to wear pants (or any of the other million disagreements you’ll have with your child). Remember how little they are, and how much they still have to learn and grow before they are as capable of quickly following along with all of your expectations.


Hearing your little use common expressions and big words, adding new ones nearly daily, will blow you away every time. One such comment of recent was “Ummm… Daddy. We have a small problem here.” (Our cat was on the table in his spot while he went to get something from the kitchen.) Trying not to laugh right at them for being shockingly adorable is the tricky part.

Seeing your child’s tastes and preferences emerge. At the moment, “Booty Swing” is Z’s big-time favourite song, her favourite only show is Paw Patrol, and the absolute most interesting thing to watch, do, play, talk about is taking care of babies (especially diaper changes).


Watching Z make friendships, share, communicate, and show affection for her peers. I squeal at every friendly hug she gives and receives, and every kind effort she shows.

Pros to raising an only child

Witnessing the delight in her eyes as she receives a tasty treat, then watching as the flip switches and our daughter turns into a sugar monster, incapable of handling her own self with all that sugar running through her veins. It is amazing the difference you can see in behaviour immediately.


Experiencing the constant changes and challenges. No matter how awesome a new technique for eating/sleeping/whathaveyou is, it seems to be our general rule of thumb is that it will work 3 times, and then be useless. Keep trucking, parents. The more we’re challenged, the more we grow, right? Right?!


There are oh so many wonderful memories and important realizations I could share from these first three years of my darling Z’s life, but I think I will cap it off there, or we’ll be here for days. I’m looking forward to what new experiences and challenges lay ahead as we journey through the next year of life with a 3 year old.

Happy Birthday Little Miss Z! Enjoy your precious time being 3 years old!

What have your favourite memories and most important realizations been in parenting? I’d love to read your comments if you share in the space below. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Make sure to say hello when you add me! I love to meet new awesome humans. You can also sign up here for my short and sweet weekly newsletter to stay up-to-date with all the awesomeness I share here.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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