The first year of motherhood can be brutal. Having a baby is a huge shock to your body, mind, your relationships, and your finances. Nothing can quite prepare you for the reality of a newborn. No advice, no anecdote, no story. Nothing. Because there's nothing like the first time you bring your baby home, the first time you try to feed, the first bath, and that first night's sleep. But while the first year as a parent can be strenuous, the second year of motherhood is harder than the first.
The first year of motherhood, while draining, is also often blissful. At least, it was for me. I loved watching my newborn turn into a little human; watching her smile, laugh, crawl and take her first steps was a truly incredible experience. Listening to my baby babble and seeing her become her own person is the kind of joy that can be felt only by a new parent. But hearing your toddler scream "no" and throw a tantrum in the middle of a grocery store? Well, that's the kind of shame that can only be felt by parents of toddlers. And even though it's normal to have a 1-year-old toddler ready to question boundaries, it's arguably a less pleasurable experience than watching your baby crawl for the first time.
I remember when I first realized my babies where no longer babies. It happened early, too, since both of my kids started walking by 11 months. My daughter, the one with a, how do I say, "strong personality" let go of my hand and walked away from me on some random day, without warning. She turned her head, looked at me, and gave me this look that said: "I got this mom, I don't need you anymore." I cried ugly tears that night, telling my husband life isn't fair and that our daughter no longer loves me. And that, my friends, is just one of the reasons why the second year of parenthood is exponentially harder than the first.
Remember that time you were so excited for your baby to take their first steps? Or maybe you were slightly annoyed that your baby didn't walk by their first birthday like "all the other babies." Either way, most new parents impatiently wait for this very cool milestone. And after carrying your kid in your arms for at least a year, you were probably really ready for a break.
But now that the baby is on their own — walking, running, and dawdling their way through your living room — you probably realized a walking toddler is an accident ready to happen. So yeah, I bet you wish you could go back to the days when your kid wasn't quote as mobile. The days when you could sit them down in one spot and that's exactly where they'd stay.
Is it, like, a coincidence that your baby's first word (besides "mama" and "dada") is oftentimes "no"? Like, why "no"? Why not, "Yes, mother. anything you want, mother."? I don't know about your kids, but my kids absolutely love the word no. And before they were able to actually verbalize their needs and wants, they would just shake their heads to tell me they weren't buying anything I was selling.
So yeah, your somewhat agreeable baby now has a favorite word, and that word is going to cause you a lot of grief.
How easy was it to plop your baby on your breast or give her a bottle? Easy. OK, maybe it wasn't always easy, but I guarantee you it wasn't as painful a process as my current "please dear lord child eat" regiment.
I remember trying to research toddler eating schedules and reading true horror stories from parents whose toddlers refused to eat anything but grilled cheese. I mean, I get it, grilled cheese is probably the best food there is, second only to pizza, but it can't be all that nutritious, right?
And, in addition to now wanting to eat anything and making this Jewish mother irrationally upset, they are so messy. After 30 minutes of trying to get my kids to eat a meatball, 90 percent of the meatball ends up on the floor and the other 10 is in their hair.
Once these kids turn 1, they suddenly have, like, an opinion and stuff. They like and dislike things and make their preferences very known. And when they really, really don't like something, they may just drop to the floor and scream and cry and make a scene, and it doesn't even matter where you are at the moment: the tantrum will happen.
Since toddlers have these incredible and rambunctious personalities and feelings they can't quite articulate, they end up seeming rather irrational. For example, one day my son cried for probably an hour because I couldn't give him the car that was just a picture on the cereal box. And I told him it was just a picture and not a car he could actually play with, but he didn't care. Oh no, he wanted that car and he needed that car and I was not able to rip myself into a billion little pieces and give him that car.
After the first year of motherhood, people kind of just stop offering to help. Everyone wants to help when you have a newborn, but by the time they turn 1 everyone seems to think that you've got this mom thing down.
I now have an 8-year-old and a 3-year-old and I still don't have this mom thing down. In fact, I'm not sure I ever will.
Do you ever look at your toddler and think, "My god, I can't believe I used to be able to hold you and smell you and kiss you whenever I wanted and now you pull away from me probably because you hate me"? No? Must be only me then.
Sometime in the middle of the second year as a mom, you realize your baby no longer wants to hang out with you and snuggle with you and take naps with you. Instead, they would much rather run away from you in a crowded parking lot and try to run into traffic. Because toddlers are a walking hazard, you guys. Godspeed.
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