When you have a baby, or possibly even beforehand, you are bound to hear comments about toddlers. You might hear about, “The terrible twos,” or what it’s like having a “Threenager,” in the house. For the first 18 months of my son’s life, I lived in ignorant bliss, unaware of all of the rumors about our son’s impending stage of development. Suddenly, however, we had a capital T- Toddler. We were smack dab in it. While I was busy denying that he was growing up, he had plans of a different nature. Apparently, he decided months ahead of age 2 to get started being a toddler, and we have had no choice but to roll with it.
Being a toddler mom can be wonderful and challenging, and it certainly feels, at times, like you’re on an emotional roller coaster.
Just in case you’re not sure if your child is a toddler, I’ve developed a checklist to help you determine if you’re a toddler mom. Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list, but I hope it will come in handy nonetheless.
You might be a toddler mom if…
#1 – You can’t remember the last time you ate a meal without someone sticking their finger (or fingers) in it.
Now that they’ve mastered the words, “hot” and “cold,” these words are always at the ready, prepared to test any food or beverage that comes their way. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this means they will eat said food. More than likely, they would just like to put a finger in it and then move on. But rarely, they will surprise you by taking it for themselves altogether. If this happens, back away slowly and don’t make any sudden movements. Your toddler is actually eating something. You can only hope that if this happens, it’s not with your favorite dish, and it’s not the last serving in the house. But to be safe, be prepared to give up anything you enjoy eating.
#2 – The knees, shoulders, and hems of every item of clothing you own have had yogurt (or cracker crumb) fingerprints on them at one point or another.
In our house, we use cloth napkins. Like, really nice ones that have lovely designs on them, that I handmade. But if you saw what I’ve been wearing these days, you might think that I’m the walking napkin. I don’t get dressed for work until after breakfast because, if our son is awake, I will soon be wearing his food. I’ve made the mistake of forgetting this plan, though, and discovered midway through the day that I have a yogurt smear on my sleeve. To my colleagues, new and old, I say this:
I am not a slob, I promise. I just have a toddler at home.
#3 – You find yourself saying, “You’re so sweet,” and, “You’re in timeout,” in the same breath.
With toddlerhood comes big emotions and the greatest, sweetest moment can go sour on a dime. Part of being a toddler means testing the waters, and a wonderful hug can quickly turn into my toddler smacking me in the face. A quick look at his face will tell me that he is trying to figure out if it was a good idea or not, and if I say “ouch,” he will usually get really sad and say, “Owie boo-boo” in solidarity. He’s really a sweet kid, but he’s trying to figure out the boundaries, and sometimes, that means putting him down someplace safe and taking a break from each other.
#4 – You find yourself singing the words to a song from Moana or Frozen, as if it’s totally normal, when you’re out in public.
If you are at your desk at work, singing, “Hey, it’s okay! It’s okay! You’re welcome!” you are not alone. I’m doing the same thing – if not that song, then I’m going on about how, “Everybody on this island has a role on this island.” I used to sing Nickelback and Weezer under my breath, but now all I can think about is, “Whatever snow does in summer.”
#5 -You are never alone in the bathroom. Ever.
If you’re in the same 100-foot radius as your toddler and they are awake, you are not in the bathroom alone, sister. One of our bathrooms has a door that doesn’t latch properly, and my son will open it to inquire about my activities, regardless of who may be a guest in our home at the time. If I’m not 100% on my game, he may take the opportunity to grab the end of the toilet paper roll and run away, going around and around our center staircase until I’m left with an empty roll. Our dog is also a pro at opening the door, and then it’s a full-blown party in the bathroom. Which brings me to my next point…
#6 – You may hear yourself uttering phrases such as, “Please don’t eat off the bathroom floor,” and other gems. “Please don’t put that in the toilet,” is another personal favorite.
#7 – You may have discovered, at this point in your life, that the line between positive reinforcement and bribery is very, very thin.
We have a star chart for behavior in our house, and while I vowed never to hold that over his head while he is acting out, I don’t recall signing anything saying I wouldn’t bribe him with promises of chocolate or fictitious cookies. You know what I’m talking about.
And lastly, you may be a toddler mom if…
#8 – There are tiny socks everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
They are between the couch cushions, they are in the toy box, between the sheets (of your bed, not your child’s!), they are in your purse, and they are in your car. And yet, somehow, there are none to be found when it’s time to get your toddler ready to leave the house. How is this possible?
Again, this is not a comprehensive list of signs you might be a toddler mom, but if you have been in denial like me, I apologize for bringing the harsh reality down on you. Try as we might, toddlerhood is unavoidable and probably un-ignorable. We should probably form a support group for this, as long as no one has a problem with my crumby-yogurty sweater and the fact that my kid is only wearing one sock.