Recently my sister-in-law gave birth to her second baby. Holding that behemoth – 10 pounds 12 ounces – brought back so many fond memories of the baby days, and I may have gotten a bit misty-eyed as I rocked that bundle baby rolls. I wasn’t all teary because I want another baby. That ship has sailed, thanks to some well-placed snips in my husband’s nether regions. No, my eyes started sweating because I remembered just how fucking easy babies are compared to toddlers.
I have a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old and I would gladly trade them in most days of the week for a newborn baby — even a baby that cries all the time. If a baby cries, it’s for a legitimate logical reason: they’re hungry, tired, or sitting in their own filth. I can understand and empathize with these reasons, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t cried for the exact same reasons. (You ever get up the nerve to exercise during shark week and then pee all over yourself while doing jumping jacks? That’s a damn good reason to cry.)
Toddlers though? The reason for their cries make zero sense. None whatsoever. Today, my daughter cried because my son took away her imaginary rocket ship. That’s right. She was crying over something that does not exist. The What to Expect books do not cover this shit. No one warns you this will happen, that they’ll literally cry over spilled milk, spilled cereal, or because their cereal is in the wrong bowl. That they’ll shed tears because they asked you to help them put on their shoes and you helped them with their shoes. The horror of doing what they asked you to do brings out the most vicious screams.
And you know what babies do for fun? They lie in their bed or on the floor or in someone’s arms and stare quietly. Maybe they drool if they get really excited. That’s it. Give them a wall, a ceiling, maybe a neon-colored dinosaur to fix their eyes on and they are stoked beyond measure. They are the easiest creatures on the planet to entertain. You don’t even have to be looking at them most of the time. They don’t care. They’re just taking in the world around them. Quietly.
Little kids are the complete opposite. It physically pains them to sit still for more than two nanoseconds. It’s like they live in fear of their muscles rupturing should they not be in constant motion 24/7. And even when they are sitting, they can’t even do that quietly. I didn’t know you could loudly sit in a chair all by yourself until I had kids, but as it turns out, you can. I’ve seen it. And those days of getting away with not paying attention to your baby are over, because every seven seconds one or both of my kids are yelling, “Mom! Watch this!” They expect your eyeballs glued to them all day, every day, and it is exhausting.
Finally, I miss the ease of feeding babies. Give them your boob, a bottle of breastmilk, or a bottle of formula and move on with your day. That’s all they need. They don’t complain that it’s icky. They don’t throw a fit because all of a sudden they don’t like it. They don’t chuck the bottle at your face and scream at you that they hate it and it’s disgusting and that they’re never going to eat anything ever again. Nope, they just suck it down, give a satisfied burp, and move on with their baby day.
I love my kids, and I do love the fact they can do things and play and talk. There are pros and cons to all of it. But, damn, there are days where I’d chew off my left arm if it meant I could hold a baby in my right. They don’t talk back, they don’t argue with their siblings 400 times a day, and they certainly don’t have daily arguments over who gets the last strawberry yogurt. They just lay there and drool — not unlike me after my toddlers have demanded that I “watch this!” 26 times before I’ve had my first cup of coffee.