I read and heard it all before. Toddlers are terrible. They are little dictators who go out of their way to make things hard. The ‘terrible twos’ and ‘threenager’ years made me nervous even when they were only in our future.
And then our son grew into a toddler and I realized that I love being a toddler mom way more than when I was a newborn mom.
You see, I didn’t quite love the newborn days as much as everyone told me I would. Yes, I loved that little squishy tiny baby who would nap for hours cozied up in my arms, but I also felt so isolated from the world, touched out and exhausted.
I really tried enjoying the stillness of snuggles in bed and the smell of the back of his head, but as much as I tried I just didn’t. It was okay—but nothing out of this world like I thought it’d be.
As he started growing and becoming more interactive, I started to enjoy this new stage. Making him laugh would be the highlight of my day and I have endless videos to prove it. We would sit on the couch and make funny noises and he would look at me and giggle and I felt complete. Then he started sitting up and grabbing toys. We could play hide and seek and his face would glow every time I revealed the toy he thought had magically disappeared behind me.
It wasn’t long before sounds that wanted to be words starting appearing in our lives. He knew the cow said “moo” from me reading the same book over and over again so he started saying it with me, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say back then I thought my baby was an absolute genius for doing so.
He learned how to walk and I was so excited about not having to carry him everywhere. Sure, at first we took it very slowly and there was a lot of hand-holding and gentle exploring, but soon he was making his way up and down the playground choosing where we were going next without me making those decisions for him. He was showing his preferences—the slide always wins over the swing set and sitting in the playhouse is way more fun than the monkey bars.
His language skills exploded and he started telling us about his friends—little kids he plays with at the endless playdates our nanny organizes to keep him entertained and social— in choppy sentences. He slowly made up words, like bluebee for blueberries or flyfly or butterfly, that were used regularly in our conversations.
And as all these new things were happening and he was growing into a toddler, my enjoyment of being a mom grew more and more, too.
Don’t get me wrong, not all days are easy. He’s had his share of tantrums, rejecting food he used to love, not wanting to be around one of us (mostly me now that I’m super pregnant with his twin siblings) and keeps taunting our dogs by pulling their tails and taking over their beds. And yet I love it.
I love it because I get to see a glimpse of the person he will be.
I love it because all of those long and endless hours of playing with him—like stacking blocks, practicing saying “please” or even potty training—are finally paying off.
I love it because he can now tell me what song he wants to listen to, even if that song is The wheels on the bus for the millionth time that day.
I love it because I have so much fun playing pretend. We usually dig up sand (our carpet) and put it in a bucket (an imaginary one) and sometimes the stuffed animals come over and eat some of that sand.
I love it because his wild toddler imagination allows me to explore my own imagination, the one I’ve put on pause for so long because I was busy doing adult things, like having a job and paying bills.
His toddler world is so much fun and I enjoy being a part of it, every single day.