Have your kids already come and gone through that phase? Do you just have pleasant memories of early morning snuggles, good night kisses and digging in the sand together on an exotic beach?
Yeah. Me too.
But let me remind you about all of the other fun stuff that happens in the toddler years.
And so it begins
No one ever tells you that your beautiful baby turns into a toddler on his very 1st birthday. That was the day Dek got an opinion of his own. Where he thought he was allowed to have one of those I have no idea, but he did.
Dek started out small, but at almost 3 years old now we are in full-fledged toddler-dom. The idea about how he should be living his life are flying from his mouth left and right; ever more so than after his baby brother Ty came onto the scene.
Who cares if you’re sleep-deprived mom
Dek is a great kid. I love him more than anything. I feel like I’m a pretty good mom. Most of the time we have awesome adventures together.
Some days he just drives me crazy though.
He has recently decided that he can get up at 6am. This is 1-2 hours earlier than he has been waking up. This is also right after I’ve gotten up with his brother and finally fallen back to sleep.
I know Dek is only 3. He doesn’t get that mommy has been up all night and went to bed way too late the night before. He just got 10-11 hours of sleep. He is feeling fresh as a daisy. Why on earth wouldn’t mom be ready to attack the day with him?
Bring on the inquisition
One thing I love about Dek is his inquisitive nature. However, after a horrible nights sleep, being asked the same question (and answering it) at least 23 times gets a little tiresome. I don’t want to squash his spirit, but I also don’t want to lose my mind in the process. I really just want to ask him, “what is the right answer honey? What are you looking for that you keep asking? I will tell you anything you want!”
Sadly he has yet to give me the magic answer to his questions.
There is a bit of the devil in there
With all those opinions I mention before, there also comes an iron will. It is usually reacting to whatever I have asked him to do. The littlest thing can make the horns appear. It’s not everyday, but if he’s had a bad night’s sleep, been over stimulated or whatever other secret thing that happens in a toddler’s world to set him off, we could be in for a rough morning.
I will never judge the mother of a screaming child ever again.
There is no compromising with a 3 year old or rationalizing with him (trust me, Mike tries to all the time. It’s really quite entertaining to watch… because you know… it’s not me).
What’s got me worried is this…
I’m leaving on a 5-week trip with Dek and Ty in less than 2 months. Mike won’t be joining us until half way through. Yes, we will be staying with friends every step of the way, but I still need to get there. They will also have kids of their own to take care of.
What if I lose my mind? Our sleep will be even more out of whack than usual with the time changes. Dek will be in the worst shape since he is used to a set schedule and rhythm to his life. We haven’t traveled overseas with him in over a year.
I have also never traveled like this with the boys. For one thing, it has always just been Dek. I am now adding Ty into our overseas adventures. We will also be bouncing around to friend’s houses for 5 weeks via train, airplane, taxis and a rental car. That’s a lot of change and transitions for two little men.
Let’s not forget that I still won’t be getting much sleep at that point.
By the end of the trip the boys and I will have been in 6 countries. A few of those are just overnight or day trips, but that’s a lot of travel even for most adults. Can I really survive toddler meltdowns through 4 languages, 6 border crossings (OK, so most of the countries are in the EU so that won’t be a problem), and an 8-hour time change? I honestly don’t know.
Where he’s got me
Dek, like all good toddlers, knows how to push my buttons. He knows how to get me ripping my hair out in public places as he refuses to get off the floor for whatever reason he has decided is a good one.
What if he throws a tantrum in the train station in Zurich or won’t get in the stroller as I try to dash through the London airport to make our connecting flight?
What if I miss out on all of the stuff I have been dreaming about seeing on our grand adventure in Europe? OK, maybe that last question should be addressed in a totally different post.
The what-ifs are piling up on me.
But you know what? I just don’t care.
At the end of every what-if I have is the realization that I do it all of the time at home.
I’m tired every day. At every dinner Dek and I have the same conversation about eating what is in front of him, not what he thinks should be there.
Now I can do this at home or I can do this in the Swiss Alps.
Hmm… let me think on that for a moment. Where would I rather be talking down my toddler? Home in Seattle where I am all the time, or in the Swiss Alps with my best friend from grad school and her daughter, eating fondue every night and gorging myself on Swiss chocolates (they are known for them I hear).
I’ll just let you guess at what my answer is.
Dek is going to drive me nuts for at least the next year. I hear it gets better when toddlers turn 4 years old. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I’m not going to sit around for a year waiting for it to happen though. I’ll just take it one minute at a time, and try to roll with whatever our travels throw at us, including temper tantrums and meltdowns.
I will choose to look back on this time and remember snuggling up on the couch reading stories about London, watching our Italian language videos as we both learn how to say “buongiorno!” and pointing out where we will be going in Sicily on the map.
Because you know what? As soon as Dek has shed his horns Ty will sharpening his up. It’s all just part of being a mom.
And I’m OK with that.
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written by Keryn Means