The other day I was bemoaning the fact that I didn’t have a tiny toddler running around. Or a small newborn to rock to sleep. Or a huge rotund belly full of squirming baby. (My huge rotund belly is merely full of popcorn. Which mercifully doesn’t squirm.)
In fact, I may have grumbled because I only seem to have a gaggle of pre-teen lawyers-in-training to argue with. Pre-teen lawyers-in-training who no longer want to snuggle or watch The Backyardigans on t.v. or say the word ‘spaghetti’ in cute ways. Nope. My pre-teen lawyers-in-training insist on pronouncing every single syllable correctly.
Frankly, I was missing a life filled with this:
And then a friend of mine called, who has a toddler. An adorable, chubby, mis-pronouncing toddler with blue eyes and beautiful hair. A toddler who says the most ridiculously cute things. A toddler that insisted upon cuddling, and often.
So, I’m ashamed to admit, I was filled with toddler envy when I answered the phone.
But my friend had called to vent about the unsanitary working conditions she endured while mothering that toddler. All the poop and the vomit (hello stomach flu season!) and the gratuitous eating of all items found in the couch cushions.
Then, as my friend was spilling out her overburdened soul, I could hear her toddler in the background whining “NOT THAT WAY! NO! NO!” A few minutes later I heard, “I need to go potty! NOW!” And the rest of our adult conversation was peppered with repeated loud demands for string cheese that were never answered satisfactorily in the eyes of her two year old.
Our conversation ended and after hanging up the phone, I may have raised my arms, high in a victory salute and shouted, “Thank every last angel in heaven, I do not have a toddler!”
You see Gentle Reader, in the course of only a few short years, I had completely blocked out the seedy underbelly of the toddler world: the excessive dirt clinging to tiny child crevices that has to be removed daily, the constant power plays, the incessant whining, and the eternal weariness that comes from dealing with all of the above twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
I had forgotten about potty training and waking up to find puke in the crib. I had blocked out tumultuous bath times and car-seats with twisted straps that refused to buckle correctly. I had dismissed the eating habits of these small people that mimic those of ravaging wolves in the wild: food flung about without regard or concern, periods of bingeing quickly followed by the refusal to eat at all, and the ever changing dietary whims of miniature dictators.
Oh how quickly we forget. How quickly I forgot. And I think it is deliberate, this motherhood amnesia; either to keep us sane or to ensure the continuation of our species, I’m not sure. Maybe we simply remember the best moments- the most important parts. I simply don’t know.
However, I do know this, for all you parents out there stumbling through the labyrinth of early childhood: It gets better. It really, really does. So do your best to survive, keep your chin up, and look to the future.
And even though you don’t believe me now, one day you will look back and miss it.
(Which only goes to prove that raising children drives all of us clinically insane.)