I feel like I could write a book about this age, 18 months. Not a 'how to' kinda thing, either. I am not an advice giver or feeling any sort of maternal wisdom gathered over the years of raising 5 kids. No, this would be more of a whiney diatribe about how hard this age is, because there is constantly a new reason for stress, strife or exhaustion.
As if the sleep deprivation of the first year isn't enough and the constant fear of choking once they develop a pincer grasp, here come those first steps. The walking. Then the running. The chasing. The falling. Then the climbing. And the falling. And the chasing. And exhaustion--for the parent, the kid isn't interested in sleep. Repeat every stinkin' day. All day.
Then comes the talking. So exciting at first to communicate! 'Drink!' Aw, my baby wants a drink! 'Sit!' 'Hold!' He wants me to sit and hold him while he drinks! Adorable! So of course I oblige. In a flash I've got a tiny dictator barking one word commands at me all day, commands that aren't always possible.
So then come the tantrums.
We aren't really there yet, the tantrum stage. But I see a flash of it every now and then. Right now it just looks like a toddler crying, but I know what's around the corner. You can find all sorts of advice on how to avoid them, but sometimes it just isn't possible (especially when the advice is 'leave kid at home while you shop' or 'make sure kids are fed and rested before you go out.' I mean, no s#it.). Sometimes your husband is out of town, you're running kids around all afternoon, need milk, snow is coming, somebody's sick, and you end up at the store at the 5 o'clock dinner rush...and there it is.
I just want to say to you moms...it happens to all of us. Crying, miserable kids. In public. And I have found most often, that it comes not from being a bad parent, but often from trying to be a good parent in a bad situation. Everyone is miserable, tired, hungry, and someone starts grabbing for the candy at the supermarket check out. It's easy to let them have it and avoid confrontation. It can be very hard to choose to say 'no' (and not crack) when you'll have to deal with the consequences in public. So cut those moms of crying kids a little slack.
And then there's the house cleaning. Oh my. There is just so much frustration. Trying to keep things clean and organized when you are only going to turn around five seconds later to find more smears, scribbles and every manner of thing dumped onto the floor and every cabinet emptied. Sure, organize and clean those surfaces after they've gone to bed (when you just want to collapse on the couch.) You'll need to do it every single night. Not to mention dinner, laundry, and if you've got older kids....and you are old yourself...you might just live in filth and squalor and spend your time writing whiney diatribes on the internet.
At some point last week, I just gave up. I didn't even know I had until, of course, someone unexpectedly stopped by our house and suddenly I was looking around my home with a new set of eyes. So, after being fully embarrassed, I spent the first day of spring in a spring cleaning campaign. And hopefully the weather will be nice enough that I can keep the tiny tyrant outside all day. It's the only hope I have to keep the place clean more than a few minutes.
On the bright side, it isn't all bad. Those first toddling steps and those first garbled words will melt your heart. That chubby toddler will learn to give kisses and sing songs and wrap you around their little finger. Some day you'll clean and organize your heart out and make trips to the supermarket by yourself, and occasionally get to sit down for more than 2 seconds together....and chances are good that some day you're gonna miss this exhausting and frustrating and adorable and crazy phase of parenting.