Perhaps you’ve heard that expectant mothers are looking forward to having a baby to coddle, and expectant fathers are looking forward to the 8-year-old he’ll play catch with some day. (Or ride bikes or go camping with, as it were.)
Who’s expecting a toddler? No one.
Babies! They sleep and eat and poop and lay around playing all day. Kids! They go to school and have organized activities.
Toddlers? Toddlers are what age a person.
My child is THE most delightful little creature on the planet. Except when he’s not.
Each day I’m amazed (in a good way) at the new things my 14-month-old is capable of. “Can you please put this saucepan lid into the cabinet where it belongs?” Done. Doing motions to “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes.” Getting safely down the stairs. Picking up the dog’s food dish after dinner. Saying “cheese.” Balancing on one leg. Trying to plug power cords into the wall. Playing kazoo to “Moves Like Jagger.”
I’m also amazed (in another way) at the new things he’s capable of. Climbing on top of toys to see out the window. Manipulating the fridge lock to get inside. Sipping his milk and putting it back, but ignoring my requests to not take everything else out of the fridge. Grabbing things out of the trash can. Putting things into the trash can. Eating bugs. Tormenting the dog.
The books all tell you that these things will happen, but it’s so hard to imagine your teeny tiny little new baby doing these person-like things.
I don’t know if my experience is the same as everyone else’s, but all of this came about around the same time that we lost our morning nap and eight (meanie) teeth started coming in. At first, he was cranky all the time. Now he’s only cranky some of the time. Me, I’m exhausted all of the time.
Once upon a time, maybe 5 weeks ago, he napped two glorious hour-and-a-half long naps. It was hard to get out and about, but we managed. I showered, (kinda) cleaned, pursued semi-intelligent, uh, pursuits.
Many moms say they like the one nap because it’s longer, and the kid goes to bed earlier. Must be nice, I say! In the past month, Wally has simply dropped the morning nap, started his afternoon nap earlier and pushed back his bed time.
Do YOU know what to do with a young toddler for 5 straight hours at a time? In winter? (It feels like we have a year to go before we can do all of those crafty things we keep seeing on Pinterest.)
The silver lining is that I’ve found a gym that runs a creche weekday mornings. There’s nothing more toddler-friendly than a squash court full of toys! We’ve overcome a little separation anxiety (thanks to biscuits [which are cookies and not, in fact, biscuits], I’m sure) and now most mornings when we start to get bored, we make the trip. Endorphins all around!
What I’m learning is that the mischief and crankiness are generally the result of boredom. For me to understand that is as important as understanding the words he’s trying to say.
Of course, then it’s important to do something about it, or we both spend the day in a spiral of yuck. It means that some days I just need to pry myself away from my book or the internet or cleaning up after lunch. Some days I just need to force us out of the house no matter how little I feel like expending the effort to do so. Often it’s just a matter of playing – building a slide out of couch cushions, flipping through picture books, paying attention to what he’s interested in and telling him all about it.
It’s a strange (and challenging) chore, working at being a kid again while also being the mother. And most of the time I really like it.