Parenthood is the worst kind of time warp. The now sometimes tests my nerves, with sudden demands and tiny fits, messy diapers and spilled juice. This “baby” is a toddler and will move through this phase quicker than I can blink.
A week and a day before his second birthday, my baby boy climbed out of his crib. It was an out-of-rhythm bedtime ritual, with an extra rocking chair session and lots of pitiful calls for “mommy.” I put him in the crib to try a do-over, and by the time I’d walked the 15 feet down the hall, he’d scaled the side-rail and was standing somewhat disoriented in his bedroom.
The next morning, Robb converted the crib to a tiny bed that my toddler can climb in and out of safely. And like that, from one day to the next, he’d grown from a baby-sleeper to a child-sleeper.
Bedtimes got hairy, once he realized he could get out of bed, walk to the door, rattle the knob and yell for us. We’re all trying to figure what the new normal will be, which has been a constant state for the past two years: “What is normal for us right now?”
Lately, he likes to play the role of the big bad wolf, and he is constantly telling us: “I’ll puff, and I’ll poof, and I’ll blow this house down!” The assertion is followed by vigorous blowing. Sometimes he blows down mommy, daddy, cell phones and other inanimate objects. Nothing is safe from his puffing and poofing.
A few days ago, he grabbed a raw head of broccoli and ate it caveman-style for a few bites. He often demands candy corn and cookies, and fruit snacks are bribery currency when we need to shape his will to ours. We made the mistake of giving him Babybel cheese (the tiny, individually wrapped orbs), and now he demands RED CHEESE. Pickles: HE LIKES THEM. Clementines: Eaten two or three in a row. Waffles with peanut butter: Reliable breakfast.
Even now, almost two weeks after Halloween, he frets playfully about ghosts, monsters, and spooky jack-o-lanterns.
He sings Twinkle Twinkle and Itsy Bitsy Spider loudly and with no sense of pitch, which makes me question my never-terribly-confident singing skills.
At some point in the last few months, I’ve reached total saturation on first-person parenting essays. I’d followed a slew of blogs, parenting communities, podcasts and other seemingly helpful sources, only to find that I don’t have the energy to read about someone’s breastfeeding struggles, their guilt (or joy) going back to work after maternity leave, their loss of identity (or pride) at staying home with kids, the injustice of unpaid American parental leave policies. It’s not that I don’t think these topics are important; the opposite is true! But I read too much written by strangers, and it all blurred together. I love to talk about these topics with my friends, but there’s a particular type of modern essay that has wiped me out.
My life is so deeply influenced by a toddler that the idea of spending my precious decompression time absorbed in EVEN MORE parenting topics leaves me mentally spent. I’ve found myself turning to reliable internet favorites that don’t have anything to do with kids: literary magazines, longform journalism, local news, weird podcasts and photos of baby giraffes. (You might say that a baby giraffe is a kid. But you’d be wrong. It’s a calf.)
So here I sit, admitting that I’m sick of parenting essays, writing an update on my kid. What can I say? Parenting makes you crazy. It makes you love-blind. It makes you say simultaneously opposite viewpoints in the same blog post.
Two years into this journey of motherhood, I am looking back with nostalgia. The baby years are already fading into soft memories. The toddler years are here. The big-kid years are soon.
Yesterday I asked him if he was my big boy or my little man, and he said he was my little monster man. Two years old, climbing out of his crib, puffing and poofing, eating cheese and pickles. That sounds about right. He’s my little monster man.