Before I had children I had an image of what it was going to be like to have kids. My imagination would run wild with all of the things that I was going to do with them. I would see myself sitting at a table with my child quietly doing art projects, construction paper, crayons, glue and pipe cleaners all around us. I saw us taking long leisurely walks chatting about all of the sights we were taking in. I imagined baking cookies with my child with a kind of Leave it to Beaver theme going. Me, happily taking the warm sugar cookies off the baking sheet and my child excitedly decorating the cookie with icing and sprinkles. These were my dreams, dreams of my life as a mother.
Fast forward a few years…I have a toddler.
There is nothing quiet or peaceful about our art projects. Before any art project is to begin I have to ensure all tables and surrounding floor is covered in some sort of plastic or newspaper, otherwise I will spend the entire day/night cleaning paint and glue off of all surrounding surfaces. We may begin with a cheerful “I paint mummy” and end with screaming tears of despair because there is no “lellow” paint and we simply must have “lellow” paint or else “I don’t want to paint” and then all paints end up thrown on the floor. Crayons are all broken and construction paper is torn instead of cut nicely.
The beautiful nature walks I had imagined usually begin with me reminding Mr. T. to stay near mummy and not to run off into the road, traffic, woods or any other unsafe area near by. Why is it that two year olds always seem to be drawn to the unsafe things? He doesn’t notice the kitty until said kitty is in the middle of the road and he simply must run after it. Our walks then continue with me chasing Mr. T., picking Mr. T. up after he’s tripped and fallen…usually in some sort of puddle or mud, wiping off mud and drying tears. Then I have to try to convince him to head in the direction of the park, because believe it or not, he DOES want to go to the park BUT he insists on somehow getting there by walking in the opposite direction. My job is to convince him that we must go right because otherwise we can’t get to the park. Many times our walks have ended with me picking Mr. T. up over my shoulder and carrying him home.
Baking, oh baking is an adventure. Mr. T. loves baking which is something that made me so happy, because I love baking. Baking may begin with us making brownies. Brownies which end up being baked in cupcake tins because Mr. T. has changed his mind and is having a meltdown because he doesn’t want brownies he wants cupcakes. Another meltdown may occur once we have removed the tin from the oven because Mr. T. doesn’t yet understand the concept of patience. Unaware of the repercussions of eating something straight out of the oven without letting it cool down. Unfortunately my job is to keep him safe so I have to suffer through the meltdown until the brownie/cupcake is cool enough for a toddler to handle. Cookies are usually a safe bet. Icing? Check! Sprinkles? Check! I am now used to cookies that have half the container of sprinkles on one or two cookies and then none on the rest because we ran out…which may or may not cause yet another tantrum.
The biggest thing that I have learned so far in my short journey in the mummyland is that my dream of “perfect” toddlerhood doesn’t exist.
Sure my art projects aren’t peaceful and they sure aren’t neat but they are fun! I would cover my whole house in plastic just to see the pride in Mr. T’s eyes when his creation is complete and he sees it hanging on the fridge. When he squeals “look what I did all by myself!!” it makes me not care so much about the fact that I didn’t remember to buy more “lellow” paint. He’s forgotten about it anyway.
My nature walks are by no means leisurely but I love spending the time running around with my little man. Being in the outdoors is his favourite place to be and so it has become mine too. I could spend all day chasing him around in the sun.
Baking is even more fun now than it was before. No matter what happens there is always someone who loves our treats. Mr. T. will gobble up anything with sugar. He’ll drag Mr. C into the kitchen to show him what he’s made…so proud of himself…it’s just beautiful.
Toddlerhood is messy! It’s full of kicking and screaming and tears. It’s soooo dramatic. It is a far cry from the beautiful Martha Stewart/Leave it to Beaver moments of perfection that I had envisioned. It’s soooo much better than that. It’s real. I’m watching someone explore his world. It’s all new and fresh and exciting to him. Everything he sees and does and touches is a wonder to him and I’m learning to appreciate all of these things again through a child’s eyes.
Being a toddler sure isn’t easy and being the mummy of a toddler isn’t any easier. Then again no one said it would be. We will survive this too..I hope. What scares me the most is that when this is over…it’s not really over…Ms. J. will be hitting her terrific toddler years just as Mr. T. is exiting them. Wait a minute…I just realized something….does this mean my dreams of tea parties and dress up aren’t going to be just as they are in my head???