A few days ago, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when a picture of a darling 2-year-old girl caught my eye. The mother — whom I was acquainted with in college but would probably not recognize on the street — was gushing about how she loved toddlers and wished she could freeze time. Then she posted this (definitely rhetorical) question: Don’t you just love this age?
My gut reaction: Nope. No, no, no. I do not love that age.
My youngest child is around the age of her daughter, and although I just love him to bits, I honestly can’t wait for him to grow up. At least just a bit.
Before I had kids, I remember listening to parents talk about how they couldn’t wait for their child to hit a specific milestone. Couldn’t wait until they could walk, couldn’t wait until they could talk, couldn’t wait until all of their kids were in school. I remember a specific conversation in which a mom declared that she would love to have more children (she had four already) if only she could start parenting at age 3. I wasn’t sure what to make of these comments at the time — I was certain that I would treasure every stage of my child’s development.
But now that I have experienced some real-life parenting, I realize that there are some stages you love and others you just deal with. And I don’t even have tweens or teenagers yet! It’s true that you don’t want to wish away a childhood yearning for your child to learn and grow. But you aren’t a bad parent if you don’t love every minute of every phase of your kid’s childhood.
For instance, I love babies. Love them. I always have. I love their smell, the funny noises they make, the tiny clothes that they wear and even their lamb-like crying. Doesn’t everyone love babies? I’ve discovered the answer to that question is no. Not everyone loves babies. I have close friends who only tolerate the newborn phase. They love their babies, of course, but don’t look forward to the sleepless nights, hormonal chaos and generally tied-down feeling that comes with a newborn. I don’t love those things, either, but I just love newborns so darn much that those inconveniences don’t really cross my mind.
Me, I struggle with the toddler stage. It seems silly to say that, because a lot of people have a hard time with toddlers. (The terrible twos is ubiquitous for a reason). But I really struggle with toddlers. For some reason, my control-freak personality doesn’t mesh well with their do/eat/scream whatever- or whenever- or wherever-I-want behavior. I consider it a major triumph to get through a day with my toddler without a major meltdown – either his or mine. To survive this stage without losing my mind, I’m trying to focus on the positive aspects of toddlerhood, like my boy’s sweet sloppy kisses and his hilarious dance moves.
Even though I don’t love the age, I can deal with it. I know it will get better someday. I remind myself daily: Kids are only young once.
I’ve had fleeting thoughts of having another baby, but then I remember that said child would one day be a toddler. Anyone have a 5 year-old for sale?