The Ten MumDamnMents – The Toddler Years
1 – Thou shall spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about whether your little treasure is hitting their ‘developmental milestones.’ This is only exacerbated by the 45 page questionnaire sent by your local health visitor, which you will take more seriously than your University application.
You will lose this document daily, then once located will use it as a basis for panic and disbelief. Why can my one-year-old not stack and count 7 blocks, thread the eye of a needle with their toes and perform a near perfect Paso Doble yet?
Half of the NCT toddlers have already aced this questionnaire and you’re struggling to get past page one. You feel judged by the health visitor, your NCT friends, your Mum and even your toddler, who cares not a jot about any of these milestones as they’ve learned to blow raspberries and that’s all sorts of fun.
2 – Thou shall not have a sweet clue what is going on with your toddler’s milk consumption now food has become more established. Too much milk and no food will go anywhere near your toddler’s chops. Too little milk and your child might not be getting the calcium they need for strong healthy bones and teeth.
You will be an active participant in multiple discussions about ‘dropping the bottle’ and moving onto cups. Your internal monologue will go something like this:
“Little Jimmy from next door is the same age and he’s been drinking from a Tommee Tippee cup for months, surely my boy should be at the same stage? Is his reluctance to part with the bottle indicative of his future life choices? Will he end up being a parking warden? Shiiittttttttttt.”
3 – Thou shall not be able to wait for your child to walk, as you’ve spent a year:
- watching them flail on their back and commando roll around the room
- developing pretty severe lower back problems from retrieving them from crawling into a table leg
- baby proofing the room after they progress to cruising around your furniture – including removing photo frames and other previously innocuous objects which suddenly pose extreme DANGER. Who knew a remote control could be used to bludgeon a Sophie the Middle Class Giraffe?
Again the comparison monster comes along and leaves a paranoid trail of ‘why hasn’t my baby ran on tippy toes across the room yet’ as friends regale you with their toddler’s agile larks. “Don’t worry,’ they’ll say, “I’m sure they’ll progress quickly in other areas.’ By which they mean “I pity you. And Sophie”
4 – Remember to sign up for as many baby groups as possible. This might require some serious monetary sacrifice and forward-thinking as these groups are pricey and more popular than Glastonbury tickets. Course leaders will laugh RIGHT IN YOUR FACE when asked if there are any spots left but do not despair, there are a million and one options and you will settle for the right one based on availability and desperation to get out of the house and engage in adult conversation.
Options include Monkey Music, Jo Jingles, Heart Beeps and Baby Sensory. You will mix with lots of other Mums and some childminders who all have fixed smiles and are clearly riding a caffeine high to get them through the next 30-45 minutes of distraction and Twinkle Twinkle.
At some point your toddler will do a massive shit requiring you to miss the popular ‘bubbles’ section, resulting in meltdowns and crying in the toilet. Mainly from you. You will return to the fray with a tear-stained face and to pitying glances from other Mums who busy themselves with glitter and avoid speaking to you in case you infect them with your emotion. Who can blame them, they have their own shit to deal with.
5 – Honour your toddler by sharing their finest moments on Facebook and other social media platforms. These will include documenting first shoe purchasing, a first steps video, lots of pictures of them eating, black and white selfies of you both smiling, and coffee cup close-ups to illustrate how tired you are. All will be arty and invite comments such as “cute!” and “yay for coffee!”
Not one of these photographs will illustrate how batshit tired you are, how alone you feel or how many filters you’ve used so you don’t resemble your natural self – who looks like a big bag of dicks.
6 – Thou shall not be allowed to drink a hot drink EVER AGAIN. Well maybe not ever. But for the next 5 years at least. You will boil the kettle 24 times before pouring a drink, then you will forget where you’ve put it. Two hours later, you will find it and attempt to reheat it in the microwave before again erasing it from your memory. You will discover it’s hiding place only when you come to reheat the next drink you’ve made/ lost/ located.
The first few years of parenthood will be consumed with this hot drink amnesia which would be much easier if you just drank water but sod it, caffeine ‘cos tired.
7 – Thou shall not be able to stop annunciating words loudly to your toddler to encourage them to talk. You will surprise yourself with your tenacity as you repeat every syllable slowly – in the hope that they learn ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ before inevitably repeating your favourite expletive – ‘balls.’ In front of the health visitor.
When they do start talking, you will rejoice in every attempt to form a word and convince yourself they are a genius for learning the word ‘Mummy.’ Fast forward 18 months and you will have lost the ability to hear silence due to Toddler Induced Tinnitus (TIT). You wish you could build a time machine to travel back and tell 18-month younger you that you are a twat and should enjoy the relative silence while it lasts, and before your eardrums attempt to spontaneously implode to avoid any more incessant chat about bum bums.
8 – Thou shall not be able to stop yourself attributing every gripe and whinge to teething. Everything will be explained away with that solitary word, often accompanied by an over exaggerated roll of the eyes. Toddler won’t sleep? Teething. Toddler won’t eat? Teething. Toddler keeps hanging off your hair laughing wildly and refusing to let go? Teething.
You will wait for those tiny little pearly whites to poke through for justification that your motherly instinct is right, and despite saying the same thing for months with gums firmly remaining intact, you will be Smuggy Smuggerson when finally that first tooth cuts through. Until they clamp down on your hand. When you will have to scream into a pillow and drink half the bottle of Ambesol to numb the pain.
9 – Thou shall not be honest with yourself or others about how hard this is. Becuase that would mean giving yourself a break, and when you feel like you’re failing on every level that’s near to impossible. But you will one day. You’ll get there.
10 – Because eventually, Thou shall not give one shit about what others think or do, and just do what works for you. Eventually, you will realise you are incredible as you grew and nurtured a human. Eventually, you won’t give a damn.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Mums. You’re awesome.
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