Every single stage. Every single milestone or new word. Every new food or skill she tries. It’s all progress toward her growing up. Which spirals into her leaving me, her going to college, getting married, having her own kids. And then my happiness and excitement about her development turns into sadness about her leaving me. I end up mad at my 18-month old because she will leave me in 17 years (or so I should hope). This is why moms are so so so exhausted. Our brains pinball ALL THE TIME.
Ainsley is officially a full-blown toddler, experiencing our first few meltdowns, later bedtimes and a hangry yelling. I often think about “this time last year,” because that’s when I experienced my first June and July as a mother, my first summer as a mother, my first everything as a mother. I still have a ton of firsts in my life as a mother, but that first calendar year of being a mother is special.
Last year at this time, Ainsley was still a little blob of a human. She would sit quietly, taking the world in. She was just starting baby food. She didn’t need anything except clean diapers, breastmilk and sleep. My mornings are now full of tackling a toddler who doesn’t want her diaper changed, getting her dressed while she yells “shoes shoes” because she wants to wear a certain pair of shoes, and then trying to feed that little chick yogurt or a banana or something so she doesn’t go to school with an empty stomach. She’s usually watching Nick Jr. while eating so I can pack my own lunch. No shame in TV time.
After work, it’s like running a marathon while my hangry toddler whines loudly and yells at me while I try to make the toaster, microwave or oven heat faster to cook whatever I can find. As I put dinner in front of her (after it’s sufficiently cooled down), one of three things will happen – she’ll either love it and shovel it in her mouth so fast that it scares the shit out of me (usually this happens with mac & cheese), she’ll throw it on the floor because she doesn’t even want to try it, or she’s too full from the snacks I gave her while she was yelling at me. My evenings are way more entertaining than last summer, that “summer of firsts.”
So far this summer, I’ve put away Ainsley’s pack-n-play, boxed up all her baby toys and bottles and other baby gear, and even started using a smaller diaper bag. The diaper bag things bums me out the most because I splurged and bought the CUTEST diaper bag in April, and I hardly even use it anymore. Instead I wear a SkipHop backpack with a few diapers and wipes (but man, is it cute!).
Last week we had our first real-deal meltdown. She was playing with chapstick, actually putting it on her lips. Then she took two bites of it and just about ate the entire thing. I took it away. She flipped the fuck out. Stomped around, stood in the corner inconsolable. She dug around my bag looking for more chapstick, so I now I have to keep it out of her reach. And God forbid she sees anything that resembles chapstick, like a battery or perfume roller, the whining begins again.
We have one baby bottle still in the pantry, which we use for water before bed. That’s the only bottle she get throughout the day. It’s a really weird transition, going from baby to toddler. We’re supposed to be brushing her teeth. We have a little potty in our living room so she’s used to being around one. She has feelings and wants, just like us. Like this morning when she REALLY wanted to bring her stuffed dog in the car with her.
Our entrance into toddlerhood started off slow, but man we’re moving now. It’s real!
We shop in the toddler section. We order off the kids menu. We constantly have the “Letter of the Day” song stuck in our head. We keep a La La in every room/car/bag in fear of her melting down without one (La La is the name she gave her wubanub pacifier. It’s adorable and I egg it on – how cute is La La?). We interpret for her (i.e. La La, and all the other wild words she says – like snack, eat, shoe, more, uh-oh…the list goes on). We have a plastic potty in our living room. We read and reread and reread Goodnight Moon and Pout Pout Fish and Llama Llama Red Pajama a lot. We do diaper changes on the floor because she does a fucking death roll like an alligator on the changing table.
But having a toddler also means lots of cuddles. We finally cuddle on the sofa to watch TV. She squeezes my cheeks to pull my face close and gives me a sloppy kiss. She says “love” and “mommy” which literally makes my heart skip a beat. She waves furiously when I leave or enter a room. We walk to the park together, holding hands.
As one of my girlfriends best put it, she is my barnacle. In the best and worst ways. There isn’t much I do without her. But God damn, if I don’t have Michelle Obama arms after carrying her around all day, I’ll be pissed!
I’m the mother of a fucking toddler! I’m so eager to see who my chick grows up to be, but I’m perfectly content with her as my barnacle at the moment.