I don’t know where the last 18 months have gone. The teeny, tiny 4lb preemie that was in our arms seems like just yesterday, while at the same time it feels like it was another lifetime ago! Facebook memories reminds me on a daily basis where I was ony a few years ago, wasting as much time in the mountains as I could, but as much as I miss that lifestyle, I wouldn’t want to swap this one for the world – and I miss the little lady when I’m only away from her for 2 minutes!
The phrase “I love her more and more every day” seems a cliché but I think motherhood is filled with clichés because there’s no other words that can describe the love you have for your own child.
But enough of the sickening words, motherhood doesn’t come without its trials and tribulations, and just as you think you master your baby, toddlerhood comes and smacks you in the face!
So I thought I’d share some of those trials with you, although I don’t really know where to begin…!
She has her own mind now, and doesn’t she let us know it. One minute she’s giving you a cuddle, and the next she has an absolute meltdown because she wants to wear her dinosaur rain mac.
It’s like she’s going through some kind of teenage-month angst, or remembered Trump is President, and nothing can console her (except maybe a few Organix puffcorns if you are in a public place and just desperately trying to avoid the meltdown – the wrong thing to do I know, but it happens!!)
Meltdowns can be about anything, and as a parent you can slowly understand the cause of 90% of those meltdowns in an attempt to avoid them, however there are times when she’s so exhausted that nothing can change it… she will breakdown over the fact you haven’t given her that piece of air she can see, because she just doesn’t want to wear shoes today!
“No”, is definitely her favourite word!
When you’re battling to get her in the carseat at 6.45am on an ice-cold rainy morning, or back into the pram when you’re in a hurry to cross town but she’d rather walk, it’s not always easy to stay calm, and there are times I’ve been near to tears myself, but I think it’s more out of frustration and helplessness on both sides.
She is 90% of the time a really happy child, entertains herself, runs around giggling, singing away to herself, dancing, exploring and loves other kids, but there are times (particularly when she’s tired) that she can’t control her emotions, and I know that’s because she’s still learning to understand herself and how to communicate too. It will take time, and I know when this stage has been mastered, another will come along!
I pride myself on being on early for everything, and always have done, but there are times with motherhood that this really is not possible, no matter what. When mornings take 10 times as long because you’re suddenly chasing a naked, giggly toddler around the living room because she finds it funny not to get dressed, or perhaps she’s run full-pelt into the doorframe 2 minutes before you’re about to leave… or most recently, suddenly thrown up all over herself in the car 2 minutes before arriving at a friend’s. No matter how organised you are, the unexpected will always come along!
Shopping isn’t what it used to be. You can no longer ‘nip out’ as you need to ensure you’ve chased the toddler around the house to get her shoes/coat on, packed a variety of emergency snacks (thanks Organix), have all the Peppa pigs that she wants to take with her (sometimes she insists on all 3), and ensure it doesn’t collide with busy times in the shops (remember, you want to be quick!), nor be close to nap/feeding time (or you’ll be battling the grumpy toddler). Remember, you only want milk, but she’s insisting you need this week’s Aldi specials of a new fireplace, greenhouse cleaning spray, and a selection of horseriding equipment!
Then there’s celebrations to contend with. Valentines day involves hundreds of balloons in every shop window/grocery store, teddy bears winking at your little bundle, and hundreds of pink, sparkly chocolately treats. And I thought getting through the 4 month Christmas festivities, with all that tinsel, lights, and toys in every aisle, was hard enough! Not to mention Easter and mother’s day are coming. You end up compromising, and end up buying something you had never intended, just to make it out the store!
Well unless you’re heading out for a very quick coffee, the whole process of going for a restaurant meal or afternoon tea isn’t as relaxing as it used to be.
With a toddler who just wants to explore, you’re either continually picking up dropped food/ crayons/ toys, attempting to stop her destroying all the condiment sachets/menus/salt pots, or finding various ways to keep her entertained while the waiter is taking far too long to bring your food.
She usually ends up eating more of your ordered food than you get to (or dissecting it before throwing it on the floor) or she spots something she really wants, but really can’t have – like the overly-expensive array of homemade jams. It’s not to say we don’t take her out, it’s just we think carefully about where we take her and the timing of it…for our sake, her sake, the café’s, and the other customers – we don’t want to be that parent!
I’m pretty sure she’s been 100% well in some form or another for about 2 weeks since she was about 8 months old. If it wasn’t the 4 months of continuous teething, it’s been sickness, diarrhoea, endless coughs and colds… and regularly coughs so bad she just throws up everywhere.
She gets clingy, which results in full meltdowns if I even look like I’m moving an inch from her (even peeing is near impossible as she not only insists on being in the bathroom, but wants to climb on you too!).
The worst thing about it (aside from the sudden excess laundry, nasty poop explosions, or having to collect her from nursery in emergencies and leave work in seconds – not easy as a teacher!) is not knowing how to help her. You know she is poorly and just wants a cuddle, but you just wish she would feel better to help her sleep. She doesn’t understand what’s wrong either, so when she’s feeling sorry for herself, it makes your heart break too.
I know this is going to get worse the longer she’s at nursery and when she starts school, plus catching anything as her mummy is just a smack in the face as there’s no such thing as sick days when you’re a parent – you just have to suck it up and get on with things!
So your toddler has finally learnt to sleep 80% of the time, but there’s that 20% when they’re poorly or just having a bad night, which means you’re having a bad night too. Or maybe sleep is just suddenly overrated, and she’d rather just sing at the top of her voice.
You may be having to resettle her 10 times that night, ‘sleep’ on the sofa with her, or take her to your own bed (ie no sleep for you, only limbs in your face, no matter how happy that makes the toddler!) then have to work the next day, being in top form for 8 hours straight, after a 2am start… and add the daily routine into it too, as you can’t just head home to bed when you’ve got to be an adult too – cooking, cleaning, laundry, bags ready, clothes ready, bathtime, storytime, toddler bedtime etc etc.
Again, as when you’re feeling poorly, there’s no choice but to just get on with it, and hope the next night will involve a few more hours in your own bed!
It’s not always easy and Jon has to put up with me unintentionally snapping at him when the zombified state has just got too much for me, or continually moaning at how tired I am, but thankfully she does settle after a night/two and I do get more sleep than her newborn days! Plus her cheeky grin, her cuddles and hearing her singing just makes it all better again.
And coffee. That helps too!
She knows she shouldn’t be doing things sometimes. She gives you ‘that look’ when she knows. But I guess it’s just her way of learning her boundaries. You’re thankful crayons are waterproof when she’s drawn all over the window, and you’re sometimes near to tears when you’re absolutely exhausted and she’s shredded toilet paper all over the carpet. She flashes her cheely grin as she climbs onto surfaces you never know she could reach, and there are times you just want to hysterically laugh but have to remain straight faced while telling her she’s been naughty.
We try not to overuse the word “no”, but it is possibly our most used word of the day!! The worst thing is, she knows it, and often says “nooooo” when she’s been clocked being naughty! (*Must keep straight face!*)
I know there’s only worse to come, but her cheekiness does make it more bearable at times! 🙂
The ‘being an adult’
There are days where I find the non-stop routine quite challenging, especially on nursery/work days where you are non-stop from the minute you wake to the minute you sleep, then have to wake up and do it all again.
You are thankful for days when she doesn’t wake before the alarm, so you know you’ve 5 minutes to get washed/dressed for work before embarking on the toddler battle of nappy change/breakfast/getting washed/dressed (another battle!)/ beds made/ washing up done/ shoes on/coat on/ work bag/nursery bag/lunches sorted/ car packed/car de-iced/ car seat battle/drive to the city/pram battle/15min walk to nursery/15min walk to work/start work by 8.30am.
Then after a full day’s work you then have the reverse journey 15 min walk to nursery/coat on/shoes on/sign daily nursery forms/ pram battle/walk 15min to car/pram battle/ car seat battle/drive home/unpack car/unpack lunch boxes/wash up/make dinner/re-pack nursery bag/re-pack work bag/ make dinner/ feed Lily/ wash up/ attempt to feed yourself while entertaining toddler/clean kitchen/ clothes ready for morning for you & toddler/ bathtime/ storytime/ bedtime/ you get washed/showered/teethbrush/ hairbrush/bed. Then wake up to begin the whole process again. One of my students said they can’t wait to get home so they can just go to bed and watch Netflix. Our TV series watching is well behind what it used to be, purely because there is actually no time for it.
There are nights when you’ve got to include putting the bins out or sorting money for the window cleaners, or getting some marking done in bed. Perhaps you’ve spilt porridge oats on the floor so desperately need to get the vacuum out, or Lily wipes so much snot on your work shirt that you’ve got to change. There are times you think “I really don’t want to be an adult today” but then realise if you don’t get the bins out, then who will? I’ve lived away from home for over 14 years, but with a toddler, there’s often little respite – you’ve, again, just got to suck it up!
It’s not all bad…
I’ve made it sound like a pure nightmare, but in reality it’s not. Some days it does get to you, and you feel helpless, or feel neglect when you’re running round trying to get the washing/cleaning done after a long day at work when you should be spending that time nurturing your hyper toddler. I sometimes dream of 2 minutes of peace, but then as soon as I get the chance to grab that time (rarely!) I miss her every second I’m not with her, and wish she was there. We put her in nursery recently to enable us to have a day off to get errands done for the new house, but I missed her being in the car with me and it was the 1st time I’d been at home without her, and I just missed her presence in the house. I’d rather have her hanging off my leg while I’m attempting to wash up any day, rather than being on my own.
Parenthood will always throw hurdles in our path, and they may not always be able to get past, but I know it definitely feels incredible to do so. Recently, Lily copied my bedtime routine of tucking her in and giving her a kiss, by tucking in her piggies and giving them each a kiss before getting herself into bed. My heart just melted.
She’s growing so fast and I can’t believe how much she’s changing and developing. In a few years time these challenges will seem a lifetime ago, but I’ll be longing for just one more snotty kiss, slobbery cuddle or cheeky smile… so maybe I should just let her wear her dinosaur raincoat, if it makes her happy.