I am Mom to two boys, ages seven and eleven, and they were the cutest and sweetest babies. They were cuter and sweeter than all other babies. Did you feel this way? That euphoric, sleep-deprived feeling that they were God’s greatest gift and could do nothing wrong? It didn’t matter that they didn’t always sleep through the night or eat on a schedule or that they took a long time to potty train. BUT at the time, I could overlook all of those things if they smiled or reached up for me to hold them. They were still cute and sweet as toddlers. They were more mobile, fun, and full of personality. They were all about Momma or Daddy and maybe Elmo. And then, that was gone.
If you’re like me, you have daily reminders on your phone of your social media pictures and posts from past years. These memories of their births, that one time they slept through the night, first steps, first broken bone, etc. put you right back to where you were and what you were feeling at the time.
I’ll be honest; those memories don’t always bring back that euphoric feeling. Sometimes I’m like, “Oh, gosh. I’m so happy we don’t have to deal with that right now.” Today’s memory showed me a cute 21 month old in a red bandanna. Yesterday’s memory showed me a baby with fever and an ear infection. So, I started to think about all of the things I miss about the toddler years and things I was SO happy to leave behind.
Things I miss about the toddler years
- Cuddles and hugs — When my boys were little I used to hold them and sometimes even rock them to sleep. We (mostly Dad) would also read to them before bed. I miss them needing to be close to their parents, and I’m sure Dad does too. But then again, I love that they’re independent, can put themselves to bed, and both even like to read before bed. They still hug me occasionally, but it’s never a “Let me sit in your lap” hug.
- Learning to talk — When my 11 year old was little he created his own words for things. At first it was just sounds and then words. “Runch” was “lunch.” Eventually I learned his language when my husband said, “Think about the context of what’s going on.” Aha! We called it Caleb-ish. I miss both their sweet, little voices and those days of trying to figure out what they were saying. A friend told us we should record them so we’d always have that memory.
- Being short, little people — I know they have to grow. Being little meant they were small enough to hold my hand and it wasn’t uncool. Being little meant their shoes fit for longer than six months. Being little meant your 11 year old, with a dry sense of humor, doesn’t say, “You are not my mother. I have never met my mother. You are a nice lady who drives me around and you have a mean husband.” Okay, first: If you know the makeup of our family (one biological child and one adopted child), rest assured it was the child that shares my DNA who said this. So, do not call a therapist. We good. And second: Why am I never the mean parent? They’re both very funny. I do look forward to more big boy funny.
- Honorable mention: Elmo — Only because Elmo is better than Fortnite.
Things I Was Happy to Leave Behind
- Diapers and potty training — Does this need any explanation? Poop is gross, and diapers are expensive. We were in diapers with both boys past age two. Cleaning up after potty training accidents, setting the timer on the potty watch, finding them in their poop hiding place . . . it was a lot. I was happy to buy more “Underoos” and put away the diapers for a rainy day.
- All the toys — This one is fresh in my memory because we just recently cleaned out the toy room (when they weren’t looking). Gone are the days of Lightning McQueen and every single car from every single Disney Cars movie. We’re holding steady with Nerf guns, soccer balls, footballs, and Madden21.
- Tantrums — Maybe they’re just called something different at ages seven and eleven, but no one is falling out on the floor kicking and screaming. Perhaps now they’re called emotional outbursts? While kids’ initial reaction at this age is still emotional, in our experience they’re less physical in nature. These are easier to manage but not any more pleasant. Small victories.
- Honorable Mention: Elmo — Did you have the Elmo CD that you could program to say your child’s name and sing him or her SIX songs? Then, you know.
What do you miss about the toddler years, and what were you happy to leave behind?