Last Updated on January 7, 2020 by World’s Okayest Mom
Some women swoon over babies. I was never that person.
And honestly, even as a mother, I could have taken or left the newborn stage.
I think a big part of that was conditioning myself. When The Husband and I started the adoption process, we were planning on adopting from Ukraine. Most likely, we would adopt an 18-month to three-year-old little boy. So maybe it was self-preservation that I decided the newborn stage wasn’t for me. I know it was self-preservation that made me decide that pregnancy wasn’t for me.
But when life does as it does and completely changes, The Husband and I ended up with a four-hour-old baby girl. Enter My Girl. God knew what he was doing even though we definitely didn’t.
While I would never in a million years give up the newborn time with My Girl (and I regret woefully the four hours that she was alive and I wasn’t with her), when The Husband and I batted around adopting a second time, I was pretty adamant that I was ok with skipping the newborn stage.
Newborns are not for me
Little swaddled babies who coo and poop that black tar are not what give me phantom ovary pains. (Phantom pain since the ovaries are non existent. Check out the painfully honest post about my hysterectomy that made it possible for me to have a baby.)
Quick side note: Since My Girl was in the NICU for a few days, The Husband and I never had to change a gross tar diaper, but I still have nightmares about it. Let me explain…
When Edith (check out Cast of Characters to keep up with the family members) was born – pre My Girl years – I was in the hospital with The Sister. Her husband was in Iraq (thank you for your service!) and My Mom (I guess Our Mom) is a little queasy at the sight of blood, or needles, or pain, or stretching cervixes. Plus, I was never going to experience a newborn baby or delivery, so I was excited about my delivery-room role.
Anyways, fast forward to The Sister and I bringing Edith home from the hospital. The Sister immediately leaves to pick up Meg from daycare and I’m home with two-day old Edith, who was already a troublemaker (which I say with complete affection). Edith, knowing that a novice I am, saved her tar-like diaper for the second The Sister walked out the door.
Let’s just say no one prepared me.
The Sister received this phone call from me:
“First, everyone is ok. Second, what the hell is wrong with your baby?!??!”
Every baby wipe. Every changing table pad. Two outfits. Those were the casualties in my fight against meconium. I honestly can’t say who won.
Thus, my phantom ovary pains start, not from those innocent little poop machines, but from the rough and tumble toddlers.
That’s my age. They are this perfect mix between completely reliant on momma, but have a bit of a mind of their own – emphasis on “a bit” — just enough to be cute and curious.
Yes, it’s fun to snuggle a newborn, but they have no choice. When a toddler dips her head into your collar bone, fitting like a perfect puzzle piece, she does it because she loves you and feels secure right there. How are your ovaries not aching right now?
Other things I love about toddlers:
- Their utter lack in the correct usage of pronouns. Monica and I agree it will be a sad day when Little LuLu starts using “I” instead of “me” for all references to herself.
- The full baby toothed smile. All their tiny teeth are in and are beautiful. And those little toddlers are so proud of the result of painful teething. Who doesn’t melt when they see a toothy toddler grin?
- Toddlers love everything! I remember last Christmas when my three-year-old niece opened her Christmas presents. Every time she exclaimed: “I’ve wanted this my whole life!” Her whole life! All three years of it!
- Their limited vocabulary. My Girl, for a long time, thought all bad guys were called “Roberts,” which, to this day, I’ve done nothing to correct, and all crayons were called “yellows.” Along with not knowing the correct terms, toddlers don’t say it correctly either. My Girl would say “yewoows.” Little LuLu called candy canes “candy cans” all the Christmas season.
If you want to truly torture your ovaries, check out this list from Romper on why toddler years are magical! I absolutely love it!
There’s a reason they call it the terrible twos
But just like newborn-crazy people forget about the meconium and sleepless nights and teething and worrying about whether you should lay Baby on her stomach or side or back or head to prevent SIDS, I often delude myself into remembering only the good times with toddlers.
A little time with the toddlers in my life usually brings me right back to reality.
The Pains of Potty Training
For example, The Sister’s youngest, Boo (named after Boo from Monsters Inc because she’s adorable with those doe eyes, but somehow is able to command all the monsters – aka her three older siblings – around her), stayed with us for a lovely weekend. Even after all her shenanigans, my ovaries still hurt for this brown-eyed beauty. But she put me in my place when taking her to the potty at a local restaurant.
This three and-a-half year old did her business – Number 1, in case you were wondering. I handed her the toilet paper, which she promptly handed back.
Me: “I have to do that?”
Boo: “Well, it’s not my job.”
Well. It’s. Not. My. Job.
I think it’s easy to see from this interaction as to how this girl rules her family from her place on the bottom rung.
The overall straddling of potty training and diapers is one of those often forgotten downsides of toddlerhood. Diapers suck, but there’s a convenience with them. Long road trips aren’t this gamble as to ‘will they or won’t they make it.’ Spoiler alert: it’s usually won’t they. Completely potty trained is obviously best. But toddlers spend a significant time in between.
On the same weekend when Boo taught me what my job was, The Sister also had to hassle George (age 5, named after George of the Jungle as he runs around barefoot like a wild man half the time) about potty time.
The Sister: “Did you wash your hands?”
George: “I didn’t even flush.”
Fast forward to me checking the toilets on a regular basis for rest of the weekend. So, yeah, I’m thankful that My Girl is past that stage.
The Bad Side of Biting
After the memory of potty training terrors, B. Swift reminded me of another toddler phase that is better to forget: biting.
She went through a phase where she nicknamed her youngest Baby Vampire. Apparently, he didn’t know Twilight was so 2010, so he would walk up to other children (usually his siblings, so maybe they had it coming…) and bite them on the back, or whatever he could sink his little teeth into. B. Swift, super mom as she is, was at a loss as how to punish. Because that’s the other thing with toddlers – how do you punish them? They pull out one misplaced pronoun and I’m putty in their hands.
But B. Swift attempted biting him back. If someone in her family learned a lesson, it was her oldest. When Baby Vampire took his fangs to Cindy Lou, she turned around and nearly bit a chunk out of his arm. At least one of the kids was catching on…
That leads to the next problem.
Toddlers tell everything they know.
Take for example, B. Swift’s middle child. Seeing the biting going on between Baby Vampire and Cindy Lou, he told his babysitter that his daddy bit him. This was completely untrue, but to be fair, people in his house were winding up with teeth marks left and right. Luckily, babysitter is also B. Swift’s sister, so no authorities were involved.
But toddlers will tell any babysitter, grandparent, random stranger at the Kroger’s checkout line every dirty little secret of the household. True or not true. Complete or incomplete. In context or out.
My Girl went through a period during the toddler years of telling her daycare teachers that “Daddy beat me last night.”
It wasn’t what you think. Or what they thought, as I had to explain to them.
In an effort to get My Girl to eat (there’s another toddler downfall – getting them to consume anything beside dino-shaped chicken nuggets and orange foods, i.e. Cheetos, baby carrots, macaroni and cheese and goldfish crackers), we started “racing” her at the dinner table. Whoever finished their plate first would win. When The Husband was first, My Girl would say with utter disappointment: “You beat me!”
Thus, that translated at daycare into “Daddy beat me last night.”
Lack of Listening
Wait… That’s not just toddlers.
I also forgot about the necessary In Public Toddler Mom Voice. My Girl is old enough that (for the most part, I REPEAT, for the most part) a dirty look that could make a rose bush wither usually gets her somewhat back in line. Or a menacing whisper: “Do you want to go to the restroom? Because there are no witnesses in the restroom.” can get her calmed down enough that we can continue with our public outing. But toddlers don’t have the wherewithal or memory of times when things didn’t go their way to be persuaded by the look or whisper.
I was reminded of this with a recent zoo trip with Monica and our families. As we were trying to herd the children out of the zoo gift shop (a feat for parents of all shapes and sizes), Monica turned on the In Public Toddler Mom Voice:
“Get. Out. The. Door. Now.”
It was so effective that a 50-ish aged couple looked wide-eyed at her and started toward the door. She had to apologize and clarify to whom she was talking.
The strangers moved, but Little LuLu was unaffected.
(And to be fair, the mom voice was also meant for Jane and My Girl, who responded marginally better than Little LuLu.)
With all that being said, I’m still a sucker for that cuddle time with Little LuLu or Boo, but my 8YO isn’t so bad either, even with her correctly placed pronouns and missing front teeth.