I’ve always been a baby person. I LOVE babies, the littler the better. I love to sit and hold them. I’ve always wanted one (actually, several) of my own. Whenever I “only” got to hold a baby for 10 minutes even though I wanted to keep him or her for hours, I said “someday I’ll have my own baby that I can hold as much as I want.” Finally, I was ready. I had a college degree, a good job, a wonderful husband, and a new house. So I had a baby. It was harder than I thought (sleep deprivation!), but it was magical. I got to sit and hold my baby ALL DAY. And I got to do it while watching Law & Order! It doesn’t get better than that. But my baby didn’t stay a baby. She grew up and is now a toddler.
To be honest, I’ve never cared for toddlers. They usually can’t communicate well, so you never know what they want. They’re eccentric little creatures and if you babysit one, there’s a list of things you must or must not do to avoid rocking their little world, an elaborate bedtime routine, and a list of foods they will or will not eat. I didn’t enjoy babysitting toddlers, but I convinced myself it would be different when I had my own. It had to be different, because I was going to be stuck with a toddler for several years.
I’ve never enjoyed older kids either. Elementary school kids are alright, I guess, but they’re pretty whiny. Tweens are insufferable, and I’ve heard parenting teenagers is difficult, at best.
I always worried. Would I someday hate all tweens except my own? Would I grow to love my own and her friends? Or would I just pray for the tween years to pass quickly? I convinced myself that as each stage came, I’d enjoy it because I loved my kids so much. Sure, I’d like some ages better, but I’d never hate certain age spans in their entirety.
I get more scared each day. Because toddlerhood is killing me. I enjoy Meg when we’re with other people, because she’s usually on her best behavior and trying to be cute (wow, is she cute). But at home, alone, I struggle through the days (although its only two days a week). I keep waiting for the enjoyment. But all I get is incessant whining. ALL DAY WHINING. And I hear it doesn’t get better. It probably gets worse, because now she usually whines because she wants something. Its just hard to figure out what because she can’t talk.
I have been very cautious about saying I wish she could talk. Because with talking comes backtalk, willful disobedience, and constant nooooooooo’s. When all that happens, I figured I’d be looking back on pre-verbal Meg and wishing I could go back. That if I said “I wish she could just talk!” I’d end up eating my words. I don’t care anymore. I WISH SHE COULD TALK. I need her to say “I’m thirsty” instead of whining for an hour, then grabbing my water glass and spilling it.
But I’m getting off topic. Having a toddler is turning out to be very hard for me and it scares me. What if I only enjoy babies? What if I never really enjoy any other ages? What if its always a struggle? I mean, I know it will always be a struggle, but what if I hate it? (I wouldn't say I hate toddlerhood. But I also wouldn't say I love it.)
On good days, I tell myself I can't know I won't like older kids. Maybe I'll love them! Maybe I'll find an age I like almost as much as babies. Its possible!
But today was a bad day. A really bad day. It shouldn't factor into this because Meg has an ear infection. She doesn't feel well and obviously having a rough day is to be expected. But by 7 pm, I was actually curled on the floor crying, convinced I'd always hate parenting. That our best days were behind us because the baby stage is over.
I know this isn't true. Well, I don't know, I convince myself it isn't true. But on days like today, I find myself very scared it just might be.