According to ancient childbirth lore, legend tells us of how moms mystically forget the pain of labor almost as immediately as the nurse puts her newborn baby in her arms. Like magic, in but an instant the pushing and contractions and ring of fire are a thing of the past, because now the universe is all about baby.
This theory holds at least some water because if we moms didn’t forget, we could otherwise never potentially be tricked into doing it again. I never really found that mantra to be true in my case, however. My pain didn’t evaporate once baby was out because I was still using a catheter to pee, and it was an excursion akin to the Alaskan Iditarod just to stand upright after delivering, because hello, C-sections.
Then again, maybe this legend actually does have some merit because I’ve willingly ridden in this rodeo three times. You know what they say: Women are sometimes daft when it comes to their children.
Or something like that.
Of course, it isn’t just the pain of labor and delivery that you forget about when you’re raising tiny people. Once you’re through them, you forget about those first bleary days home from the hospital. In fact, with each ensuing phase of your child’s life, you seemingly forget the one you just went through, and it becomes buried in the back of the deepest recesses of your mind.
Whether it’s the fog of the first several months of baby’s life or teething, their earliest days of being mobile or when they are going through a phase where they only want to eat blueberries, there is always something challenging about each phase that we are eager to let go of.
Though it was only three years that passed between my middle and youngest daughters, one would have thought it was actually several millennia with all of the stuff I forgot about when it comes to having a toddler.
Here are 25 things I forgot about having a toddler in the house:
1. Feeding them takes forever, and not in the same way that it takes my older children forever because they aren’t always enthusiastic about what I cook. It takes my youngest child “forever” because I have to actually sit in front of her, scoop food into her tiny mouth (since she hasn’t entirely gotten the hang of it) and make sure she is actually eating and not slathering food all over everything. Never mind how long this process takes when she is feeling picky.
2. You cannot trust them. Like, seriously, you cannot trust them. Just when you start getting used to being able to turn your back without someone causing trouble, you realize you are back to not being able to trust a tiny toddler with Legos or pencil erasers or anything small enough to fit inside the cardboard of a toilet paper roll, which, when you have older children running around, is almost everything in existence.
3. They touch everything. EVERYTHING.
4. They eventually figure out how to wiggle out of those straps on the front of grocery store carts, thus ruining the bliss of having to take only the baby with you to Target. You’ll be minding your own business, bending down to grab a jar of spaghetti sauce off the bottom shelf, only to turn around and see your child standing upright in their seat, smiling and waving at you. Don’t worry—those chest pains caused by panic will fade with time. Those new gray hairs you now have won’t, sadly.
5. They like to whine, sometimes. Oh my, the whining.
6. They twist and roll around when you’re trying to change their messy diaper that was sent from the pit of Hades.
7. They start expressing their opinions, like when they want a bath right now. And then it never stops.
8. They are a menace when you are at any adult gathering because they are too big to sit still and stay nearby once they’re mobile because there is treachery to be had, but…
9. …they’re still too little to play with the bigger kids with only minimum supervision.
10. So, then you have to follow them everywhere, because, as previously mentioned, they will touch EVERYTHING. *Bonus points if you’re at a house that is neither baby-proofed nor kid-friendly. Because your tiny love angel better not even look at that set of precious golf putters your friend has been collecting. (*Just kidding. This is actually not a bonus.)
11. I forgot about the eternal heck that is living with baby gates everywhere. You should see all of our shins.
12. And the eternal heck that is manipulating car seats and strollers. Shoot me now, please.
13. We must live in a constant state of lockdown. The bathroom door must be closed behind you. There are hair ties holding together cabinets filled with small toys and craft items, and I’m considering just nailing the medicine cabinet shut to be safe. Despite our efforts, sometimes the bigger kids forget to close the bathroom door behind them, so I find my toddler playing happily in the toilet or with the plunger, ’cause that is a thing we all have to worry about again.
14. Once they’re mobile and busy, it’s sometimes a wee bit harder to find a willing babysitter.
15. They mess up/touch/move/spill/knock over all of the things the older children are playing with, thus inducing panic/hysteria/fits of shrieking from said older children.
16. They must empty all of everything.
17. They don’t care about anything. For example, they will push past anything and everything that stands between them and their Fisher-Price Little People. Last night, I watched my youngest strong arm a ginormous basket of laundry I had just folded on her way to the toy basket. I’m still crying.
18. Teething. Sigh.
19. It is depressing to take them to the doctor for their shots. I live my life in 6 to 12 week increments for the first two years, hating myself a tiny bit more with each visit.
20. They have an almost divine attraction to the dog’s food and water dishes. I’m pretty sure that lamb and rice kibble can count as her daily protein, right?
21. Since they’re just getting their bearings with this whole walking thing, they fall a lot. But never on soft carpet. No, no. They always fall and land on the worst place possible, like a bookshelf, consigning you to a fate of having a child who always has bruises on their face, making sure the strangers at Target give you lots of side eye about whether or not you’re abusing your child.
22. You can’t set anything of monetary value down near the edge of a counter or tabletop, because apparently toddlers are miniature terrorists with the budding skills of a cat burglar.
23. There must be a 3-foot ring of dead space around them at the dinner table so they don’t dump the bowl of mac and cheese in someone’s lap. You will have to remind every waiter of this fact for the next two years.
24. You will still constantly forget about either one of those two previous things, and end up with a bowl of mac and cheese in your lap, and a missing pair of car keys…
25. …that you later find in the toilet, because your older children didn’t close the bathroom door again.
Most importantly, I forget about how fast all of it goes.
Seriously, is there anything more tedious, and more fleeting, than toddlerhood? Am I really doing this for the third, and possibly last, time?! Is there such a thing as a world without milk bellies and chubby baby hands and toddler kisses?
That’s what I really forgot. I forgot what life looks like without finger paintings on the fridge. Or the regularly scheduled readings of Goodnight Moon.
I forget what my life was like before children come.
But I’m kind of OK with that.