So, this post isn't to trivialize being a mother to a newborn. Oh no. I still think mothers deserve an award once they've completed that first year--you know, a Nobel Peace Prize or something. All I do know is oh how I used to fantasize what it would be like to have a toddler. I pictured long afternoons in the park, conversations at the table drinking hot chocolate, baking and making arts and crafts...And who knows? Perhaps those days are still coming...but they're not here....YET.
Yes, for me, age two has its own challenges. Oh, my back might not be sore from being hunched over from breastfeeding anymore, but trust me...it's still sore for other reasons, such as lifting an almost 40 lb. child in and out of his car seat. You see, I thought being a mom would become miraculously easier once our little ones turned two, but instead, I learned that there are new struggles to face in this uncharted territory. Here are ten of them...
10. They are stronger, faster and heavier. (Yes, to complete my thought from the paragraph above, my little boy is all of these. When I'm struggling to put my almost 40 lb. child in his car seat, I'm not only struggling because of the weight...I'm struggling because he is now using all of his 40 lb. strength in his arms and legs to resist my hold and keep me from buckling him in. Of course, that's already after my ten minute sprint where I'm chasing him to get in the car first.
9. They are picky eaters. (My little guy loved his peas and carrots as a baby. In fact, there were very few foods that he wouldn't eat. Now let's fast forward a year where my little guy knows how to open the refrigerator, pick out treats, and verbalize what he wants. Every day, without fail, he's in the cabinets looking for either cookies or toast. If he can't find either, and mommy doesn't let him have either, I have a mini temper tantrum on my hands.
8. Potty training. (I still haven't entered this phase yet, but I've heard some difficult stories from other moms. You know the accidents out in public, the accidents in bed, the public restroom challenge, the camping out in the bathroom, etc. etc. Yes, I foresee a lot of days spent by the toilet in my near future, and they won't be from going out with my girlfriends the night before.)
7. They have more stuff. (The amount of toys in my house has close to tripled in the past year. Oh, I thought life was going to be better once we got rid of the Exersaucer and the Jumperoo. Instead, we found large cars, trucks, bicycles, ATVs, (and pretty soon a train set) to replace these items. Plus, we seem to have thousands of smaller items--blocks, people, Lego's, matchbox cars, crayons, balls, etc. that always seem to find my bare feet during midnight bathroom visits.)
6. Nightmares. (Every few weeks, the teachers at our daycare place an article in our box that they find interesting. The last article spoke about nightmares and how toddlers not only have them but often find it difficult to distinguish between them and reality. Great! So, now when my child wakes up screaming bloody murder and refuses to let me touch him, I now know that my little boy thinks I'm a monster in real life.)
5. Language Acquisition. (Oh how I longed for the days when my little boy could finally say the word "Mama" or "Mommy." It seemed to take forever, and now, "Mommy" is used all the time in varying contexts---"Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!" as in it's two a.m. and I need you because I just had a nightmare, or "Mommy!" as in I want you to give me the Binky "NOW!!!!!" Oh, but my little darling knows how to say other words. He's very good at yelling "no," "mine," and "cookie." You see, I thought all of these words would be cute until I started hearing them one hundred times a day.)
4. Tantrums. (This was going to be the first item on my list, but I didn't want to be too predictable. Yes, depending on the day, we could have just one tantrum or twenty tantrums in varying degrees. Just a few days ago, I learned what a two year old tantrum sounds like in public when it's combined with hunger and exhaustion. Since I'm still trying to erase this memory from my mind, I'll let you picture it on your own.)
3. Your perceived independence. (This is a much larger hurdle than I originally imagined. You see, now that my toddler is able to get around more and seems to have learned "right" from "wrong", I start to feel more confident about leaving him alone for a minute or two here or there so that I can do laundry, wash the dishes, etc. etc. I place this as a challenge because the temptation is there to leave my little boy to his own devices while I straighten up the house; however, it only takes a second for him to find a bead and stick it up his nostril, take the milk out of the refridgerator and spill it, or grab a marker and color the kitchen table...so in reality this perceived independence is just plain torture.)
2. Your child's perceived independence. My little guy can turn into another child at the flip of a switch. He's sassy, and oh, how he likes to test. Somewhere between the walking and the language acquisition, my little guy has decided that he knows what's best, and he's constantly pushing the envelope. If he doesn't insist on feeding himself, then he insists on walking in a parking lot full of cars without my hand or he insists on going outside without mittens. Oh joy!)
1. They are growing up. (Yes, this is probably the hardest reality for me to wrap my head around. My little boy is growing up and so the nursing, the bottle feeding, the cuddling in my lap, the reliance on my hand to help keep his balance. All of that is gone or else fleeting. I've now entered the stage that everyone forewarned me about...the stage where you look at the baby clothes and wonder where the time went. Unfortunately, this reality will not be going away any time soon.)
So, in conclusion, having a two year old brings many new challenges...new challenges that I thought I could somehow bypass. (Not a chance!) It's certainly a transition, but I'm up for the task...