On this, the eve of my son’s second birthday party, I am reminded of his first few months. Most of the parents I talk to, whether new or old, say infant/toddler growth happens quickly—too quickly. They plump up, they get teeth, they roll over and crawl and pull up and walk, and they fall, and they fall, and the next thing you know, they can open the silverware drawer and come running into the living room with knives. Some parents I talk to say things like, “They grow so fast!” and “Uh-oh, you’re in trouble when he starts walking.”
My son’s first few months were a blur of screaming and an ever-present sense of panic. He wasn’t unhealthy, though he had some physical ailments. So did I. Breastfeeding was such a challenge that I began counting the days until he could be fed solids, until he could take a bottle with less risk of nipple confusion, until I could leave him for longer than an hour. He had colic. He was/is “high need.”
I fell in love with him for real, for the first time, when he laughed. I felt closer to him when he could interact with me, when he started to look like me. His first attempts at words bowled me over with pride—and relief. He was happier and easier with every milestone, especially walking and talking. I spent so much time when he was a baby waiting for motherhood to let me breathe… The things other parents didn’t want to pass, the things they mindlessly told me to cherish, were the very things I hardly missed as he outgrew them. Each new stage, though they all come as a mixed bag, meant my kid had a little more independence, which meant I could too. I am far more comfortable with toddler tantrums than I was with colicky screaming, and I’m pretty sure that’s because now he is communicating clearly, if somewhat irrationally, whereas infant crying feels so mystifying and one-sided and overwhelming.
At two, my son has conversations with me about animals, swimming, recycle trucks, his birthday cake. He likes to affirm everyone for everything. (“Good job singing!” “Really good walk!” “I love that book!” “Good job watching West Wing.”) He recites parts of his favorite books. (“There’s a clatter in the tree.”) He loves all animals, but especially bears, hedgehogs, meerkats, and goats. He likes to hug my waist while he rides in a shopping cart and says, “Aaw. Sweet Mommy.” He likes to make up stories.
In some ways, he still takes up as much of my energy as he did two years ago, but now, he replenishes it with his curiosity, his sense of humor, his sweetness, and how he loves so many things that I love too. So, instead of worrying about the fact that he can now unlock and open all the doors and run out of the house, I’m looking forward to all the new experiences Year Three has in store for us. Bring it on.