Do Not Put that Phone in the Toilet: And Other Truths About Toddler Life

My little angel turned 14 months the other day – and I’d like to pause for a moment and reflect on all that has transpired since we celebrated turning one.

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14 months old. I never thought I’d be one of those people celebrating in months until forever, but, c’est la vie – I promise to stop when she’s 2. Maybe.

Since I was still deep in 1st-birthday-party-recovery-mode last month when this nugget turned 13 months, I forgot to take a pause and reflect on all the changes that have come about since my daughter propelled herself out of infancy and into another stratosphere of growing, learning, loving … and exerting her independence/destroying my house.

It’s true – I have loved motherhood more deeply than I have ever imagined. I have cherished each moment, become infatuated with each milestone and smile and learning experience. But if I had to sum up my feelings about toddler life, a stage I know I have only just recenly entered, the expression would be:

“Holy Shit.”

As in, “Holy sh$%. Bella! Don’t touch that!”

or

“Holy shhhhhhh-OMG Bella, DO NOT put Daddy’s iPhone in the toilet!”

and sometimes

“Holy shhh-aww – these hugs are better than anything in the world.”

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But really – this whole time since someone sent the memo to my daughter that she has passed the innocent, cooperative, infant stage and started wreaking havoc on my home and the rate at which my hair turns gray, has felt like someone hit the target on the dunk tank – and I was the one on the plank.

Sure, I knew that once this princess was on two feet I’d need a bit a more energy.

Of course, I was aware of the rapidly-fluctuating emotions.

No, I had no clue, my home would become Ground Zero for my toddler tornado and I would need to contemplate purchasing a crash helmet for my child. But it has, so here I am, in my unmade bed covered in baby socks and puzzle pieces telling you all about it.

This weekend, instead of posting the typical, “Aw, my daughter is 14-months-old post and loves to give high-fives and say lots of words” post, I decided to keep it real.

So yes, while she’s smart (she already says over 10 words!), engaging (she smiles at, says “Hi!” to, and waves at everyone she sees), and extremely loving (the hugs are strong, intentional, and filled with gratitude) – she is inevitably, a toddler on a mission.

Here is what is really going on in this toddler world of mine, and all of the toddler homes around you – quite possibly with details no one else is sharing:

My Toilets are Now Entertainment

Yes, we put on toilet locks once we discovered our daughter’s penchant for splashing toilet water about, but fear not, she’s figured them out. She not only sticks her hands in there, she’ll throw anything in her sight into the bowl, including, but not limited to, expensive shampoos, makeup brushes, shoes, and an entire trashcan.

My Beautiful Coffee Tables and Couches are Now a Jungle Gym

Hell, so is my bed, my dining chairs, and the dryer. Now that she’s walking more steadily, climbing has become her party trick. I turn my back for 20 seconds only to find she’s made her way to the top of the coffee table, TV remotes in hand, and ready to cause serious harm. She’ll leverage a dining chair and battle her way to the top of the dining room table, knocking over flower vases and stopping my heart. My couches need cleaning, since these are her new trampolines, my bed has led to the need for multiple ice packs, and taking clothes out of the dryer turns into an all-out battle to try and remove chickadee from inside the machine.

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Food is the Enemy

And so is the high chair. I have been kicked in my stomach, a boob, and my lip trying to prevent this little monster from weaseling her way out of the chair – which is so shocking considering how much she loved this damn thing 3 months ago. All food that I try to feed her ends up on the floor or in my hair, since we’re currently on a quest to feed ourselves. I waste countless hours and endless amounts of money on food she’ll eat one day but not the next, and my dog has gained 15 pounds.

Car Rides are also the Enemy

Which sucks considering this used to be a time of peace and quiet, back when each car ride produced the miracle of sleep and a break for me to answer calls, listen to voicemails, or listen to anything other than Elmo. Yea, this is no longer the case. Cue Elmo’s songs and bring along a baggie full of goldfish because this is going to be one hell of a ride.

Independence is her middle name

If she can’t do it herself, she’s not doing it at all. This goes for much more than just meal time. This goes for putting shoes on and taking them off, washing her hair in the tub, pushing elevator buttons, removing diapers, and oh so much more. Who needs a mom when you have a control-freak for a kid and a weak personality.

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I wouldn’t have it any other way

Yes, with all of this, my very-involved job and mamapreneur goals, and a husband and dog to care for, I am exhausted. Yes, I find myself wondering what the hell I did with all my free time when this kid spend 90% of her days on a tummy time mat staring at the ceiling and kicking her feet. But yes, with every “Mama!!!!!,” big strong hug, hilarious kiss on the cheek/mouth/arm, and giggle that touches my soul, it is all so, so worth it. My toddler boss is my best friend, and I too, am learning everyday right along with her – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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To My Daughter on Her 1st Birthday

My dear girl…

How can it be that an entire year has passed? How can it be that I’ve been this full of happiness, bursting-at-the-seams-with-love, for only one year?

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How did I ever live a life without you?

It has only been a year, but I can hardly remember what life felt like before you arrived.

You entered this world with a force that I could never describe – one that washed over me instantly the moment your 6 pound, 9 ounce body was placed on my bare chest.

You entered this world with eyes wide open, peering into mine as if to say, “I’m here now Mama, let’s do this.”

You entered this world and I knew mine would be forever changed – but was still naive to the details of how.

Well, let’s just say I now understand what my own Mama (your Nonna!) meant for all those years when she would say, “You’ll never understand how much I love you…”

It may not make much sense to you for many, many, years to come, but it’s only fair that I try and describe what you mean to me, and why I owe you the best life possible in return for the one that you gave me, just one year ago.

I love you for the way you made me come alive, and helped me to fall in love with life’s simple pleasures.

I love you for the way you helped squash any of my feelings of self-doubt, and reassured me of my strength with each hug and coo of comfort.

I love you for the way you hold my finger, the same way now as your first day on this planet, tight and with a grip that declares your need for me.

I love you for the way you’ve made me love your Daddy, when I already thought I loved him as much as I possibly could.

I love you for the way you brighten every day, and for the way your happy spirit takes over any stress I may be feeling and washes it away.

I love you for the way you light up any room, and for the way you command the attention of everyone around you – don’t ever stop doing that, it’s incredible to watch.

I love you for the way you make the life I lived before you seem so worth it. Like I’d live through the pain and the loss and the heartbreak a million times over if I knew it would always lead me to you.

I love you for the way you’ve brought out the very best in me, filled my soul with purpose, given me meaning and reason to smile, 100 times a day at least.

There are so many more reasons my sweet Bella, but I fear that by the time you are old enough to read this you’ll be rolling your eyes at me and be too busy getting ready to change the world that you won’t have time to finish my note.

Because you will change the world, my love. There is something so intense about you. The way you exercise your independence in everything you do. The fearless way you approach everything.

So, my love, here is what I’ve got for you…

After what you’ve done for me in only one year, I promise to spend the rest of my life repaying you – with endless love, support, guidance, respect and honesty. I promise to always help you find the best in yourself like you’ve done for me. I promise to give you everything I’ve got, and when it’s not enough, I’ll find a way to give you more.

I promise you will never have to feel the way I felt as a little girl, not if I can help it, you can trust me on that.

A year used to come and go like anything else… but now, in only a year, you’ve given me an entire life’s worth of love.

Happy First Birthday, sweet girl.

Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for being you. Thank you, for this love.

Love Always,

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Your Only Child Only Turns One, Once

I am vehemently planning my soon-to-be ONE-YEAR-OLD’S first birthday.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Almost as ridiculous as having just spent $69.99 (plus tax!) on a “My 1st Birthday” board, that I’m pretty sure no one will appreciate as much as me.

But hey, YOLO, or Your Only Child Only Turns One, Once (YOCOTOO).

What started out as an, “only family, only in our home” affair, has now turned in to the exact opposite.

A great number of our closest friends and family – relatives from out of town included –  at a very chic, VERY beloved locale of my daughter, her baby friends, and my mommy friends.

I was up until 1am last night, scrolling Etsy to find nothing but the BEST and cutest birthday decor, pink and gold, with crowns. Pink and gold confetti. Pink and gold banners. Pink and gold tablecloths, plates, socks for our guests – it it’s gold and pink, it’s in my Etsy shopping cart.

On the Pilates reformer this morning at 7:30am, I thought, “Am I crazy or just really cute and detailed?”

Don’t answer that.

So, as I am clearly not phased by the thought of being crazy, I keep planning away.

And the tears won’t stop coming.

She IS only One ONCE.  She IS my first baby – the game-changing factor in my life that made me fall in love with being alive, with being her mother, with the person that I am.

She WILL be celebrated. It WILL be as special as I can possibly make it. There WILL be tears, and cake smashing, and matchy-matchy themed decor.

There WILL be memories made, maybe that she won’t be able to remember,  but with pictures that will tell a story to my Bella that strongly and proudly says,

“You are your parents EVERYTHING Bella, and this party is evidence of that.”

So on that note, it’s back to planning. And shopping.

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