We’ve all been there. Counting down the days till the first steps, the first words. Babies are so FUN to watch develop. And then they become toddlers. Here are a few things you may have heard…
1. “It’s ok, they take all your time now, but when they get older they will be able to entertain themselves.” Yep. They sure will. This isn’t as much a misconception as it is extremely misleading. True, they may not burst into tears when you put them down to load the washing machine. But chances are you will return to the kitchen to find they were filling a cereal bowl with strawberry syrup (and by filling, I mean there is almost as much on the table as in the bowl). Or they may be in the tub smeared head to toe in your shaving cream. (Both true stories).
2. “Once they start talking, they won’t scream so much because they will be able to communicate and won’t get frustrated.” Alright, this one may hold some truth. There is frustration for some, I’m sure, in not being able to get their thoughts out. My older two were very early talkers, and my baby (almost two now, and still just speaks in abrupt, broken phrases) is a very effective communicator. But most frustration in a toddler doesn’t stem from communication as much as from mom forgetting which cup belongs to which kid (according to their codes and standards) or forgetting to wash a special blanket. No toddler, speaking or otherwise, has the initial response ‘Mommy, you handed me the wrong glass, can I trade with my sister?’ Nope. When frustrated, toddlers scream first, talk later. (If you have a two year old who has this one down, I’d love to hear how you managed it!!). You really have to wait till they’re about four to see the light at the tunnel’s end on this one.
3.“It gets better when you have older ones, they help watch the younger ones.” Ok, ok… my oldest is not yet 5 so I may be calling this one early, though growing up, most of us weren’t the best help to my mom in this either. They see the baby getting into something and SOMEHOW assume mom knows and decided it was ok. Below is a classic example, fresh from this week:
Mommy: Where’s Keira?
Monika: She’s got the jam. (slightly more helpful, I know.)
Mommy: Agg!! Runs upstairs and finds Keira on the stairs, smearing the carpet as she tries to scoop it from the jar to her mouth with a table knife…
Yep, you have to teach them to tattle (who knew?), and then HOW to tell without tattling… but that comes later. 🙂
4. “It all goes by so fast!” Let’s be honest, who says this? It’s completely retrospective. Sweet and nostalgic. Never spoken by anyone in the middle of the train-wreck of toddler-hood, full of potty-training and tantrums. For us, it’s one crazy day after another, and most days you drop dead exhausted into bed. You often wonder if they are getting it at all, or if all the training and tears is going no where. But eventually they DO learn to eat without a follow-up bath, the messes and disasters get fewer and farther between, and you learn to forget the tornado after it passes and focus on their cute little faces.
I’m not sugar coating it, toddlers are tough. But I wouldn’t trade mine for the world! These little ones are my life, and while people may sometimes paint a mirage to give you false hope prematurely, there really is nothing like being a mommy. And even if your best white skirt has peanut butter fingerprints and strawberry drizzles on it, there is NOTHING you will find that fills the heart like a little impish mouth lisping “I love you.” Or as my Keira says, simply “too”.
And in a few years when the toddler days are behind me, I’m sure I’ll have sugary sweet things to say about this phase of life too, but today isn’t that day.