My last post was about coming to grips with the fact Zelda is changing. I couldn’t quite articulate it last post, but the change can be summed up in one sentence:
Zelda is no longer an infant, but a toddler.
I guess you might be thinking DUH. I mean, she’s practically one and a half now (where did the freaking time GO?). I think the delay in that AH-HA moment is a combination of being a first-time mom and full-blown denial. I mean, motherhood is so subjective. That seems to include having blinders on when it comes to our own children. We’re so proud of how they grow, yet we’re so sad to see it happen. It’s more “I miss those baby snuggles!” than “Oh shit, she’s climbing the cat tree!” It’s when those two are reversed that you’ve accepted the inevitable truth: you have a toddler on your hands.
Here’s some other signs that snapped me out of denial:
1. I can’t stand the smell of her poo anymore.
I used to think, “Hey, the smell isn’t so bad. I can handle this.” Nope. It now smells like straight-up human feces.
2. Trips to Target/the grocery store/the mall are much more stressful.
We (well, let’s be real here, I) used to love the occasional spur-of-the moment tripto Target or the weekend visit to the mall. We’d take our time, stroll around, and push an indifferent Zelda around with us. Now she wants to walk EVERYWHERE and inspect everything. I honestly don’t mind it until she pulls a display off the shelf or tries to steal an item someone else is holding.
3. I start randomly singing songs from the shows she likes.
Right now it’s “Little Baby Bum,” a show from the U.K. We let her watch a little in the morning so we can get ready for work, and a little in the evening so we can get dinner on the table. And the song have penetrated our brains, even when she isn’t around. Just today I caught myself singing, “Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me,” when I was driving to the dry cleaners.
4. She’s discovered whining—and tantrums.
When Zelda cried, it usually meant she wanted something: a diaper change, food, a snuggle. Now she cries when she is denied something: getting picked up, a piece of food, or re-reading a book that’s been read twenty times. It’s not real crying, but it is loud, desperate, and pathetic. I now understand why parents will do anything to get them to stop doing it in public, because man o man you suddenly turn into the worst kind of nuisance. When she has a tantrum, she drops to her knees, then collapses forward on the floor until she’s facedown on the ground. It’s almost cute because it’s so dramatic. I usually tell her that life isn’t that bad.
5. Words are emerging from the baby talk.
Right now her vocabulary consists of up, dog, apple, mama, dada, and water. When I say “vocabulary,” I mean that she not only says those words, but knows the meaning attached to them. She’s starting to catch on to other words, so Matt and I really need to start watching what we say.
6. Eating is gross—and maddening.
I’m not a fan of mealtimes anymore. Food gets everywhere. Sometimes she chews up a mass of food and spits it out in her bib (we have one of the kinds that catch everything, which is a lifesaver). Sometimes she throws it over the side of her high chair, much to the delight of our dog. Sometimes she mashes it all up into goop and tries to offer it to me or Matt. It’s cute to watch her try to feed herself, but it’s no fun to clean up after. Especially on days she has fruit.
7. Her rate of growing is speeding up exponentially.
She’s on the lower end of the percentile spectrum, but I suspect that will change soon. Her appetite is huge these days. Her body is filling out more, and her weight is noticeably rising. It’s to the point Matt will get her out of the crib one morning and will ask, “Did you grow overnight?”
8. She’s a master manipulator.
I like to joke that I have nerves of steel and that Matt is a pushover. Zelda knows how to play him like a fiddle. For instance, she knows when he’s irritated with her—like when she’s throwing food over the side of the high chair—and he tries to be stern, but she turns on the charm and acts irresistibly cute. If she cries at bedtime, Matt will always go get her, but she ends up with me. When I say, “time to go back to bed,” she starts acting charming, and Matt will say, “oh, look at her. Just a few more minutes.” I have to admit, it’s worked on me a few times as well.
9. Miss Independent
Zelda’s starting to forge her own path, and it’s becoming more and more apparent. When I’m pushing the stroller, she’ll get in front of me and push it from her much lower vantage point. Just recently, when Matt and I were at the MGM casino in Maryland, she had to go up and down the stairs with little to no help. She’ll bat away our hands if we try to hold hers, and she makes it a point to only indicate a need for help if she is stuck. As Matt is fond of saying, “She’s an independent woman who don’t need no man.”
10. She picks things up FAST.
Zelda can now turn on the TV, get to Netflix, and navigate to the Little Baby Bum show. She can swipe on a phone to her Wheels on the Bus app and start playing it. She smashed her fingers in a drawer once by accident, and the next time she started to move her fingers out of the way when closing it. Matt’s dad got her a kiddie drum set, and she picked up how to change the beats and tones within a short amount of time. She holds the sticks and hits the pads, then shares one of them so Matt and I can play with her. I know every parent thinks his or her child is amazing, but her ability to learn straight up awes me.
I’m sure we have many more wondrous things in store for us, good and bad. Being a mom is so amazing, yet so heart wrenching at the same time. Nothing anyone says really prepares you for the journey.
Now what’s the phase after toddler? Full-blown kid? Heaven help us.