I love these toddler times more than I ever thought possible. When my tiny newborn son was placed in my arms after his birth, my gas and air fuelled stating the bleeding obvious ('it's a baby') quickly gave way to a wash of pride and adoration which filled me to the very brim and made me feel like a queen. I never thought I could top that, I never thought my heart could swell more than at that moment. But then he smiled. Well, not right there in the delivery room of course, weeks later. Long, sleep-deprived weeks. Then he cooed, he crawled, he spoke, he walked and now every day I see my little red-headed baby become more and more his own boy.
I am no longer Mama, or Momma, but Mummy. Mummy, I'm someone's Mummy! T can follow instructions, and express himself. He can count to three. He has new words every day. We're currently going through a food explosion, in the last few days he's asked for cheese, curry and jelly. Not together though obviously, that would be rank.
It seems almost cruel then that this magical transition from dependent baby to independent child is accompanied by toddler tanrtums. These crisis level situations are the cause of such bone-shaking, heart-wrenching tears that of course they are not irrational to him, only to me.
For months T and I have showered together every morning. As a tiny babe I held him and dipped us under the stream of water to get rid of the sour milk smell that seemed to follow us both like a tail. Later he crawled at the end of the tub with his toys. Now he toddles up and down the bath, sticking his foam letters to my legs and admonishing me to wind up the clockwork flapping dolphin 'again, again, again'. The routine at the end of the bath is always the same. I get out, wrap in towel, fetch his towel, rub his hair, wrap him up and we sit on the loo (lid down) he on my knee, to clean our teeth. This morning though there were big, fat, screaming tears. T was heartbroken, clutching at the trickle of water running down the plug hole, trying to hold in in his fat fists to prevent it from draining away. At that moment to him it seemed like there would be no more baths, or showers, ever. No more drinks, no more swimming. These were the last drops of water in the world and he, their protector, had to stop them from escaping. I picked him up, wrapped him gently and sat him down. I demonstrated the tap. Look, there's more water here! I promised a splashy bath with Daddy before bed tonight. I wet his toothbrush, and my own, and even allowed him to 'brush' my teeth.
My boy, finding his way in the big world and learning how things work. There are obvious ways I know to protect him, he wears a coat in the cold, has a car seat the size of a small tank, a Little Life backpack to prevent him from running into the road. But how can you protect a child from the heartbreak of something like this that to me isn't even an issue? I thought the newborn days were hard, and they were of course, but so are the toddler months, just in a very different way.