Three and a half years ago, I wrote a post all about how my feelings were finally starting to change around the whole idea of motherhood. In that post, I alluded to the fact that I’d never been baby hungry, and that though I knew that I eventually wanted to be a mom, I was never particularly eager for it to happen YET.
During those years before I became a mother, I was seriously pretty scared of kids, and I was scared of who I’d become when I eventually became a mother. If you’ve ever seen the movie Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (yes, I promise I have a point, stick with me here), there’s a scene where one of the characters is terrified she might be pregnant (when she really doesn’t want to be), and all she can see everywhere are the kids screaming in public places and throwing crazy meltdowns and just basically exhausting their parents to no end.
Admittedly, I used to do the same thing—before I became a mom, I was an expert at zeroing in on all the kids misbehaving, on how obnoxious that one kid in aisle 7 was being to his parents, on the constant screaming baby that lived in the apartment behind ours…and I just wasn’t ready for it. For any of it. Because even though I knew I SHOULD want to be a mom, I just didn’t want all that stuff. Not yet.
Unfortunately, although I was optimistic in most other areas of my life, it took awhile for me to be optimistic about my future domestic life, in both my roles as a wife and mother (this was way before I met Matt, by the way). Perhaps it was because the media often portrayed those traditional roles for women in negative ways, or perhaps it’s because I’ve always been wired a bit differently (for example, I’ve never liked typical “girly” things like planning weddings or going to baby showers). Whatever it was, I had latched on to all the negative things I associated with kids, and I was hanging onto them until forced to change my mind otherwise.
And, even after I became a mom, the stage I dreaded above all else was the one officially dubbed as “The Terrible Twos.”
For years, two-year-olds had legitimately freaked me out. As a photographer, the two-year-olds always seemed to be the ones who threw the session, and who fueled their parents’ stress until it melted all over everyone’s faces in just about every shot I got the further into the session we went. Whenever I went to the store or some other public place, it always seemed to be the two-year-olds who got everyone’s attention, and not for good reasons.
Basically, I was terrified of toddlerhood.
I’ve unofficially decided I should write a book (not for reals) entitled Things I Was Embarrassingly Wrong About–the first chapter would be all about how marriage has turned out to be about a million times better than I ever dreamed it could be, and the second chapter would be that the stage I thought would be the easiest and best (the newborn/baby stage) turned out more challenging than I expected (and in ways I didn’t anticipate AT ALL), and that the stage I had dreaded for years (the toddler stage) has by far been my favorite (at least up until this point).
As my mom commented to me the other day, “Two-year-olds are SO FUN” (as she admitted that it was, in fact, her favorite stage of all).
At first, I was incredulous to hear anyone say that (I had heard some other mothers I admire greatly say it before, too, and I was always astounded).
But now, I totally get it!
Now that Raven is two, she really feels like legit company to me. I’m not saying her company didn’t count before or anything, but now, because she has opinions to express (and a way to express them) and an exuberant enthusiasm about life in general, she makes things way more fun (and far less stressful) than I had ever anticipated.
Sure, she still has her “Terrible Two” moments–meltdowns in public when she doesn’t get her way, naughty behaviors when she wants to get my attention–but waaaay more than not, I have truly found this stage of her life to be SO FUN, thanks to her rapid acquisition of new words and behaviors and her increased ability to express her personality through conversation and actions.
A month ago, we invited my mom and stepdad out to the zoo with us and then treated them to lunch afterwards at Leatherby’s (as part of our quest to give more “experience gifts” than physical gifts). Although we’d gone the year before and had a blast, this time at the zoo was even more enjoyable because Raven was able to vocalize the whole experience. She was able to point out things and shout “Wow!” and identify the big bug statues that were found all over the zoo. She was able to mimic all the animal sounds and spend time outside of the stroller, running around. She was old enough to ride all by herself on the carousel ride (though she wanted Mom sitting right behind her anyway, for comfort, as that carousel ride is apparently terrifying!).
And, at the restaurant, she was able to amaze my parents by throwing down an avocado like it was nothing and trying out all the different meals we’d ordered (while at the same time joining in on the conversation by randomly repeating words we were saying and stringing them together with other things she knew about the subject).
Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self to not be afraid of it all—to not be afraid to take on the titles of wife and mother, to be excited and thrilled at the glorious adventure it all would be. But perhaps, it has been just fine exactly the way it has turned out—part of the wonder and beauty of my experiences with marriage and motherhood have been because I expected them to be so so hard, and I failed to acknowledge that with those hard moments would come an infinitely greater number of spectacular moments, of perfectly content moments, of moments that were so sweet and so sacred and so comforting that they almost took my breath away.
I guess this is all to say that today, I can honestly and truthfully say the unthinkable:
I love the two-year-old stage.
It might even become my absolute favorite, but only time will tell—I’m no longer going to be in the practice of assuming things about future stages that I know nothing about.
Maybe I’ve finally learned my lesson now, huh?
What stage were you most afraid of? Did you turn out to be wrong?