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I Woke Up To a Toddler Today

I had always wondered how that worked.

How long was a baby a baby? When did it become a toddler? What was that process like? Was it gradual- a long, drawn-out affair? Or did it pounce on you like a lion from tall grass?

Well, this morning, I woke up to a toddler.

I had seen the signs coming for weeks. It has teeth now, 7 of them in fact, and they’re all garishly large and disorderly.

It has a pot belly where it used to have a flat tummy, and its fingers are of the chubbiest quality that Hansel and Gretel’s witch could only dream of.

It says a few words here and there, or iterations of words that its parents can understand, such as ‘Buh’ for bird. ‘Ah Duh’ for all done. ‘Daddo’, fairly self-explanatory. It even does an adorable fake cry when it’s angry sometimes.

I have seen all the parts coming along, but today Sadie become the whole.

The whole toddler package, in all of its glory.

She woke up at 8:30, and I was exhausted by 11:00 am.

It started with the back deck.

Babies can wait. When you have a nice little baby, and you need to pressure wash the bird poo off the deck after the winter, and finally take down your Christmas lights adorning the deck rails, and put up a baby gate so the baby doesn’t fall down the deck stairs, and patch up that one rotten board on the deck that broke last summer that can now fit a size 10 shoe through it… the baby has no goddamn idea these things exist, and when it naps, you can fix them.

This morning, Sadie saw sun, and the dog, on the deck, and she wanted to be there too.

Baby Sadie would have been content to sit at the glass door and watch the deck from inside.

Toddler Sadie stood up and banged on the door repeatedly, and being 100% bored of my house’s interior, I acquiesced.

How bad could it be?

First, she dragged her cute little jeans all over the bird poo/dust on the deck and dirtied ’em up real good.

Then, she made a beeline for the size-10-shoe-sized-death-trap-full-of-jagged-wood-splinters hole in the deck boards.

I lovingly steered her towards her water table on the opposite side of the porch, where she splashed around for 6 minutes and thoroughly soaked her cute little shirt.

As soon as I glanced down at my phone, she made a beeline for the death trap again.

And again, and again, and again, until I dragged her water table over it and covered it.

Then she discovered the baby-gate-less stairs down to the yard.

So we practiced her going up and down the stairs about 14 times (there are 10 stairs).

Every time I tried to lovingly redirect her away from the puddles of mud at the bottom of said stairs, I got one of those adorable fake cries I thought were so cute, before today.

Finally got her back on the deck, dragged our patio furniture storage trunk across the top of the stairs and blocked them. Makeshift baby gate, and a perfect fit! Voila!

Then I turn around.

See that toddler Sadie is busily unpinning all of the Christmas lights on the porch railings one by one and wearing the string of lights as a giant necklace. Creative- and helping Ryan and I with our outdoor to-do list! Nice!

After some more crying, she had a nap and it was time for snacks and a walk.

I’ve always said there’s a certain way I’m Never going to dress my child, and I’m Always going to use washable Norwex cloths to wipe her face and hands after she eats, Never with diaper wipes.

And then I fed angry toddler Sadie an open-face peanut butter on bread and tried to wipe her face after with a Norwex cloth. Much squallering. I gave up. Came at it later with a diaper wipe when it was crusted over and she was happy so I got a quick chance.

For the walk, it was very sunny, so I put Sadie in an SPF 50 long-sleeved shirt from Walmart and the only sunhat she won’t rip off her head.

Somewhere along the walk, I turned around to look at my baby girl in her sunscreen-stained hideous pink train conductor hat with peanut butter smeared all over her face, her little potbelly jutting out of her brightly colored hideous Walmart shirt that says ‘Purr-maid’ on it with a cat dressed up as a mermaid, her dirt-stained jeans, and her hand-me-down ripped up sneakers- and I thought ‘this is it.’

She is officially a toddler, and I am officially a toddler Mom.

Who Will I Be Without Her?

A mama friend of mine and I have been talking recently about our mat leaves ending soon and having to find childcare for our firstborns. It has been so comforting to know that she too has banned words like ‘dayhome’ and ‘childcare’ and ‘sweetie, you know you’re going to have to talk about this eventually, right?’ from her home as well.

I’ve been so reluctant to even think about someone else getting to care for Sadie while I earn money elsewhere that for at least two months, when Ryan would ask what I was thinking for back to work plans, I just wouldn’t answer him. We’d be full swing in the middle of a conversation and he would ask the dreaded question and I would just go mute. The first few times, he thought I couldn’t hear him and would ask the question again. When he realized I was going selectively mute just to dodge the question, he was flabbergasted.

But that’s how big of a hurdle it was in my mind. Prior to this month, it’s been inconceivable to me that this amazing, relaxing, free-time and bonding-filled year known as mat leave must eventually come to an end.

I finally started dipping my toes in the childcare waters last month by leaving Sadie for an hour at a time at the childcare centre in my gym. From the very first time I dropped her off, she’s never cried, never so much as looked for me, and the ladies always report that she’s a dream. As I suspected- it’s me that’s the mess about it, not her!

With Sadie just turning 9 months, I’ve been feeling the pressure to get my job and childcare ducks in a row. So last Friday, Ryan and I booked Sadie for a tour at a big-box daycare that’s quite popular in Airdrie. We were pretty impressed with the environments and services they had to offer, but more importantly, we got to watch Sadie in there and she Loved it. All the kids at the centre, no matter their ages, fell in love with her. They were petting her hair and pointing at her and saying ‘Baby! Baby!’

One classroom was separated from another by a glass wall, and several of the children on the other side of the glass where Sadie was crawling around were banging on the glass, blowing kisses and trying to get her to high five them through the glass. She Ate It Up!! I left that centre realizing that as much as I love having Sadie here at home under my care, the truth is, I have a super-active and super-social child. Developmentally, I think she’s ready for more than just me, Ryan and Mika to stimulate her brain.

On Sunday, we toured a private dayhome recommended to me by a woman on the Airdrie Mom’s FB group. She had put her firstborn in a big-box daycare and he really struggled with the transition. She took him out of there after two months of struggles and put him in this lady’s daycare. Now he runs as fast as he can to get inside when she drops him off. She spoke glowingly of the dayhome provider, DeeDee (not her real name). When we arrived at DeeDee’s home on Sunday, I had just finished unbuckling Sadie’s car seat straps when whoosh- up she went into DeeDee’s loving arms. DeeDee picked her right up with no hesitation and started lovingly speaking to her. I was pretty much sold right then and there.

We did the tour, learned the schedule, menu, prices etc. and when we walked out to our car, I said to Ryan ‘We go here. This is our dayhome now.’ That whole day and night, I felt So great with my decision and was amazed at how unfazed I was about it all.

The next morning, Ryan left at 5 am for work and I couldn’t fall back asleep. I laid in our bed, staring at the ceiling and thinking about how everything was going to change soon, and in such short time.
I wondered where I’m going to find work. Are they going to like me? Am I going to be too much of myself again? Sometimes people find me too much, and does that mean I have to find a workplace that embraces my personality, or does mean that I need to learn to curb my muchiness?

Who will I be without her?? Who am I, when I’m not just being Sadie’s Mom all day? What does Emily even do or like or be anymore?

Will Sadie transition well to dayhome? She has to go down to only one nap a day… will she just cry and cry all morning because she’s tired? Will I get any time with her at all? By the time I’m done my workday, it’s dinner, bath, books, bed. That’s not enough time. Will I find a job by the time my mat leave runs out in April? Will I find a job that pays enough money to carry our current budget? Is leaving her somewhere else worth it??

I lay there questioning like that for about an hour, until I realized that I had nervously chewed the entire insides of both my lips off, and that I was stuck in an anxiety spiral that was going nowhere.

That’s the misfortune of being human. We have the capacity to exist in the now, and also to question all of our past, and our future.

I had to force myself to deep breathe and realize that I still have two glorious full months with her ahead of me. I had to look around my bedroom and realize that my bed was still the same, my baby was still sleeping in her crib down the hall, my dog was curled up at my feet, Ryan had just left for work… everything was the Exact same as it had been before my anxiety spiral. It was just my mindset that had changed. That helped a Lot to calm me down and put me back in the present.

Later in the day, I told a friend with a toddler in a dayhome about my little freak-out and she laughed knowingly and said ‘it goes with the territory.’ I loved that! Like motherhood is a place. Or motherhood is many places, and there’s always a mom that has been in the exact same spot you’re currently standing in and she can tell you how she coped.

So that’s where I am now. I am so happy I found a dayhome where I trust that Sadie will thrive and be loved in. I am incredibly nervous about looking for new work in a new town, and I am pre-sad about all the great stretches of time that I will no longer have with my girl at home full time.
I am okay, and not okay, all at the same time.