If there is one thing I hate more than anything it is the just you wait and see smug-mom look. This typically comes from moms whose babies are older than yours. I remember the first time I saw it. I had just joined my Mom’s Group and I naively asked what I had to look forward to. One mother quickly chimed in, offering advice and wisdom, as her toddler carefully sorted through grass and dirt and decided that the grass looked much more delicious. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that if I could go back in time, I’d definitely be the one giving myself that look. These days I have to ask, what in God’s name was so difficult about taking care of a baby? Let’s put the sleep deprivation aside for a moment and pretend that doesn’t exist (which is exactly how second babies are conceived). Babies cannot really do anything and they nap for over half of the day!
Fast forward to full blown toddler-ville, where I don’t have to worry about Charlotte eating grass since she is terrified of it, but she did get stuck in the doggie door today, and she napped for a grand total of one hour and fifteen minutes.
Now, I obviously do know what was so hard about being the mother of a young baby. It was the lack of sleep, the baby's overwhelming dependency on you and the drastic life-altering reality that is new motherhood. With each stage there is a dance and no matter what, you will always feel like you’ve both arrived a few weeks late to the disco. Once you actually get into a groove, you are so gosh-darn proud you may even pat yourself on the back, just in time to watch ‘em hit a new milestone and oh so quickly, paradise is lost. Every stage has its challenges and rewards. I tend to look back and think that one had to be the toughest, then suddenly the dance changes and sure enough, I’m right back in the fetal position on the playroom floor, while Charlotte prances around me as we listen to the Raffi station on Pandora (visualize Max from Where the Wild Things Are). For all our missteps, the way my heart feels when Charlotte shares her joy with me, be it through books, songs, kisses, or her pure adoration of our dogs, it is absolutely worth it. So I can smugly say, with zero percent confidence, to all you moms whose babies are younger than mine, that the toddler dance is by far the hardest and most exhausting.