I was out running errands with my 10-month-old son when a strange wave of emotion came over me.
The feeling I had was foreign — far from the normally harried sense I have when I'm out trying to get things done — but it definitely was something I had experienced before. I just couldn't put my finger on it. Then suddenly it dawned on me: I felt relaxed.
Wanting to be sure I could replicate the feeling at will, I started wracking my brain as to what had triggered this "relaxation." God knows the last time I saw the inside of a spa, so it certainly wasn't that. And being that I have two kids, I can assure you I hadn't slept through the night the day before. Or past 6:30 that morning. What was it?
Then I realized: My 3-year-old daughter was at school.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love (love) the age 3. It's positively magical. Pretty much everything my daughter does is hilarious and adorable and wildly intelligent (to me). She's fun now. We do things together. We talk. She tells jokes! But, ever run an errand with a toddler? It's madness! And, after thinking about it, I realized that regardless of how helpless and sleepless and high-maintenance babies can be, they really are so much easier than toddlers.
Allow me to explain...
Hence, they can't ask for crap at the store. There's no such thing as "running into Target to pick up diapers or paper towels or whatever" when you're with a toddler. They're mesmerized by every shiny or edible thing you pass. Hair bows, dolls, tutus, cars, animal crackers, cheese. They want it all. And when you have to say no, it isn't always a fun scene. Babies on the other hand? You can just cruise along, get what you need and be on your way none the wiser.
When I'm in the car with just my 10-month-old, I listen to NPR. Doesn't matter how boring the show or how un-kid-friendly the reporting — my son's on board. Or, at least his lack of crying tells me he's cool with Brian Lehrer. If I'm in the car with my daughter, we're listening to "Cool for the Summer." A hundred times.
Few parents I know are able to whip out their phones to send a few texts and/or crack open their laptops to fire off an email in front of their toddler without the child trying to touch/take/lick said device. Babies would totally rather play with a straw.
Living with a toddler can sometimes feel like you're living with the KGB. Don't even think you can secretively eat a piece of candy or a cookie in private. When you back out of your pantry, crumbs all over your face, you can guarantee you'll see someone around 3 feet tall standing there, saying, "Can I have some?" Also, you're eating in your pantry for god's sake. Babies will take pears — or boobs — any day of the week.
Being a mom means having some level of guilt about something approximately three-quarters of the day. But, the worst? When your toddler inadvertently says or does something that really drives that guilt home like a serrated knife in your heart. "You forgot to pack me a snack at school today, Mama. But, it's OK. The teacher gave me one." Ouch. Babies would never pull that stuff.
Sure, babies occasionally screech and scream, but most of the time, they pleasantly coo and babble at a relatively normal volume. Toddlers, on the other hand, can make turning a page in a book sound like a jet engine.
But, yes, toddlers are damn adorable. And they know it.
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