Dear darling toddler offspring,
Good morning! I’d like for you to know that I have great plans for today. Tons of meal prep, productivity, and smiles! But then my alarm went off, and you’re already begging for breakfast and the episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in which Mickey saves Santa, which stopped airing December 26th. Never you mind that it’s currently March. Also, from my bed I can hear you spilling cereal all over the kitchen floor. Never mind about today’s plans. It’s 7:00 A.M. and already…I just can’t.
Nope, please stop. Your cute little piggy toes pressing up against my head as a “relaxing morning massage” is actually neither relaxing nor a massage. It’s early, I haven’t received my lifeline coffee yet, and the start of my day would indeed be better without your perfect little toes, which I love very much, tousling my hair. Please remove them and eat your breakfast. Also, that cereal you just spilled is your breakfast because Mommy just can’t. If you leave me alone for another 10 minutes, you can also eat whatever else you can reach in the pantry.
OK, I’m up, I’m up. Here I come to welcome Mickey into our lives this morning. I see you have moved on from cereal on the floor to the unpleasantries coming out of your nose. I hate that I need to say this before 10:00 A.M., but please stop picking your nose and putting the output on the couch cushions. That’s super gross. And if you want the truth, I’d actually prefer you just eat it because then I wouldn’t have to clean it off the furniture later on. Just go ahead and help yourself because Mommy just can’t today.
Hi there, it’s me again. It’s noon now, and we really need to run the errands I wanted to start two hours ago. So, I hate to bother you, but if you could maybe pick up the speed on the stairs this morning, I would appreciate that. Perhaps stop pretending to be a dinosaur as we descend, crawling down one stair and then “eating grass” on each step. While insanely creative, it’s really becoming the black hole for my time today. I didn’t think it was humanly possible to take 19 minutes to go down 14 stairs. In fact, while you were eating that fake tree on the wall, I realized I forgot to get your socks while we were in your room and now I’m fake crying and banging my head against the rail. Please walk like a normal, non-dinosaur human. That kind of human is my favorite, especially two hours after we were supposed to leave the house.
But, since we’re only on stair five, we’ve got some time. So, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something important. Why on God’s green earth does sitting down at a restaurant make you want to poop? Every. Single. Time. While visiting restaurant bathrooms is a load of fun and provides some great on-toilet comparison conversation for us, it actually makes me want to vomit instead of eat my meal upon returning to the table. Sometimes, as an added bonus, you ask me if “it’s messy” as I wipe you. Seriously, child? So gross. Just because you’re normally really cute doesn’t mean I want to converse about stool color between my salad and main course. Could we maybe curb that, too?
Well, since I’m raising you to be honest and we’re only on stair eight, I thought of a few more things I should share—you know, to be honest. Your decision-making skills are terrible. There, I said it. I don’t know if it’s because you are two or because you’re just preparing me for your teenage years, but you make absolutely terrible decisions. Examples? Alrighty—included but not limited to: “drawing pretty” on the arm of the couch, pouring sugar all over my pantry for decoration, eating a spoonful of toothpaste because it’s pink, and the ever-popular “lotioning the dog.” I do feel as though I should take some of the blame for a possible lack of supervision, but for the record, you are nuts.
OK, we made it off the stairs and it’s only 12:20! Way to go! Let’s get in thee car. Oh, which reminds me…when we’re alone in the car together, my primary emotion is fear. You scream at me because you don’t want me to hold the steering wheel while driving. You lose your mind when you take your shoes off, throw them in the back, and then immediately want them and can’t have them. And, you prefer to listen to only “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” which is really quite an annoying song. All in all, you are a scary car creature that makes me want to drive with noise-canceling headphones.
So then we have mealtime. (Please excuse this short break in letter writing for a brief prayer.)
Please let me know what I did to deserve toddler dinnertime as my punishment. Just know that I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it, and I’ll never do it again. Lord, the thing is, he’s so scary. It’s like feeding a hungry tiger that suddenly hates meat. By this time of the evening, I’m running out energy and the scary tiger will likely only want what I have on my plate anyway. Except that once I give it to him, he will throw it on the floor in disgust.
At the conclusion of mealtime, I am out of energy and starving. Please help.
But let’s get real for a moment. Your mealtime doesn’t make any sense. You say you’re hungry, but how can a human live on Popsicles alone? Does that really make you less hungry? It’s like a science experiment every day. But, since we’re being honest, I should note that your preferred diet is more extensive and also includes Ritz crackers and mac ‘n’ cheese (for dairy/calcium, obviously). I realize you’re my second kid, but I’m unsure how long someone can live on three types of food. I suppose we’ll just have to see how it goes. I wish you luck because I just can’t today. Let’s toast good health with your fourth Popsicle.
Ahhh, and then it’s bedtime. Child, this is probably the scariest time of the day. And, you know by now, that’s saying a lot. Bedtime is when you become the most attentive to every human need possible. Things you need at bedtime: 3,028 hugs; one giant cup of water (that will inevitably spill, causing a need for another one); 14 blankets; 980 stuffed animals all pointing the same direction (except for the duck, which needs to be looking at your firetruck at all times). You also need somewhere between five and seven books, but not eight—that’s too many. You need to brush your teeth for 1.76 minutes and then will immediately choke on your toothbrush and gag until you are given a towel to wipe your face (while looking at me in disgust). You also need to know what Uncle Joe is wearing to work tomorrow and how many people you can name before I close the door. You know quite a few people—I’m not gonna lie.
And then, the day is over. I slowly close the door, close my eyes, and breathe in a deep, unfiltered breath of non-child air. Down the stairs I go. No dinosaur in sight. No more Popsicles. No sibling fights. I head back downstairs and immediately realize just how insanely lucky I am to be your mom.
So here’s the thing: you’re precious—like, insanely cute. You warm my heart and bring happiness to my soul. When your daddy and I crawl into bed, we sigh a deep, day-over sigh and then we talk about the cuteness you and your sister produced throughout the day. I show him the video I took of you pouring sugar all over our pantry, and we giggle over your “scary” dinosaur roar. It’s the very reason we adore you.
The truth is, my letter isn’t long most days, but this was written on a day when I just can’t. Just no more today. The problem is you don’t know the difference. So, I write this letter knowing that I’ll never send it. I’ll never actually tell you what I’m thinking as I wait and wait and wait on the stair while the dino eats his food. I’ll never say a word about how much I want to cry instead of figure out a way to get you to eat your dinner. I might cry sometimes or raise my voice when I know that’s unhelpful. Please just know that it’s my “I can’t” showing through. Tomorrow morning is new and full of hope.
But, parenting is hard. The hardest. Being a stay-at-home-mom often means I’m the lone observer to this experience until your daddy gets home. No proof of the insanity (unless, of course, it’s filmed for Instagram purposes). But, I wouldn’t change it. Not one thing. You are pure sunshine. A light in our family and in my life. I love your heart and passion as you sing loudly to that stupid train song in the car. I think it’s absolutely hilarious that you run through the house like a sugar-charged superhero with my bra on your head. Because one day you won’t, and I try to remember that. You, my darling toddler, are so much fun. Don’t get me wrong—you are absolutely crazy, and today I just can’t. But, please know that I love you more than life, and tomorrow, I will.