Toddlers are a strange breed: mind-bogglingly difficult, utterly lovable and just plain....weird. Or maybe that's just my little rug rat! I'm not gonna lie, as a first time mom I thought the newborn and infant phases were challenging. Man, oh man. Looking back, the first 12 months seem relatively simple and peaceful compared to the chaos of toddlerhood! So, if you currently have one of these little crazies at home -or you think you might some day- let the lessons I've learned this past year remind you that you are not alone in the trenches. :-)
Lesson 1: The days of maintaining a tidy home with minimal effort are behind you (unless, of course, you hire a cleaning service.) Don't get me wrong, you can still keep things clean. You can still get the laundry done. It's just that you'll have a tiny tornado always following in your wake to hurl your freshly folded clothes out of the drawers, smash goldfish crackers into your freshly vacuumed carpet and remove all the garbage you've placed in the bin because it looks better on that floor you just mopped. All in the name of "helping." So yeah, you can still indulge your inner neat freak, but it's going to take twice as long and some days you'll
Lesson 2: You know how you thought it was tough getting your wiggly 9 month old to stay still for diaper changes? Get ready to master diaper wrangling a stubborn 22 pound ninja with a mean roundhouse kick and professional acrobatic skills. Once you've got this skill down you'll feel like mom level: expert. And if not, give your little Houdini some bare-butt time. It's supposed to be good for them anyway, right?
Lesson 3: Chances are at some point you will crave a few moments peace so much that you will let your toddler watch TV in spite of the AAP's warnings that doing so may cause ADD, obesity, at least 30 forms of cancer and brain death. Hey, your sanity is important too!
Lesson 4: Because of #3, you will randomly wake up in the middle of the night with the theme songs to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Miles From Tomorrowland playing in your head on an endless loop. You will actually be able to feel neurons dying. This is the time to bust out your earphones and that death metal from your angsty-er days and play at maximum volume. It's basically Raid for cartoon brainworms.
Lesson 5: You may dream about your toddler taking a poop on the potty and wake up gloriously happy believing that she's now potty trained. In reality she prefers to use her potty chair as either a hat or a toy receptacle depending on the given moment. The disappointment is crushing. Don't let it get you down.
Lesson 6: You will become the kind of person you swore you'd never be. The kind that talks about poop. Accept it. Embrace it.
Lesson 7: You will kick yourself after realizing that sleeping in on weekends, using the bathroom alone and having a quiet dinner out are actually luxuries you took for granted in a previous life. Look forward to enjoying those again in another decade or so.
Lesson 8: You will wonder what you did to deserve the look of utter disdain and dismay in your toddler's eyes at meal time (answer: you had the nerve to offer offensively "yucky" items such as meats, veggies and eggs.) This will cause you to question how a human being can possibly survive and maintain boundless energy consuming only blueberries, the occasional PB&J and those Annie's fruit snacks shaped like bunnies. It's nature's little miracle. And hey, blueberries are a superfood!
|Seriously, mom? No.|
Lesson 9: You will learn how to decipher the meaning behind endless variations of tantrums (The "How dare you tell me not to color on the wall" tantrum, the "I hate this pillow and I don't want it on the couch" tantrum, etc.) You will also learn that you can expect the occasional overly-dramatic public tantrum, especially in line at the grocery store over your refusal to give in to demands for a 4 foot tall mylar balloon shaped like a turkey. You will become willing to endure the scathing glares from the non-toddler havers and the havers of oddly and magically well-behaved children because you are not leaving the store without the bottle of wine in your cart.
|The "How dare you take a picture of me next to this awful tree." This one's a doozy.|
Lesson 10: Speaking of wine, it will no longer be reserved for special occasions. No, I take that back. The calm, quiet and order you've established after putting your toddler to bed is a special occasion and should be celebrated as such. Cheers!
Even more important than all those lessons, you will learn how a heart that you already thought was full grows bigger right along with your toddler. You will melt at "I luff you, mama!" and at the huge, spontaneous toddler hugs. You will have a partner in crime who loves exploring and adventures even more than you do, and you'll get the chance to experience all of it through the eyes of someone who looks at the world with wonder and delight. You will glow with pride at each new word and skill she masters because your toddler is nothing short of genius.
Call me crazy, but the toddler stage is my favorite so far, in spite of the endless shenanigans. Of course, we haven't gotten to the 3's and 4's yet so I have plenty of time to eat those words! Just don't ask my toddler to.