Life with a toddler: Reality VS Expectation

May 2018

by anna rogers

Life with a toddler is a real adventure. I spend a lot of time laughing at the hysterical things my daughter says, observing her unique way of viewing the world, and admiring her ability to find joy in the little things. Some moments I feel like I’m on top of the world, as if I get to love and nurture the most amazing, perfect little miracle. But then…

Reality sets in.

Parenting a toddler involves a fair amount of bliss, as well as a heavy dose of discipline, messes, hard work, and yes…poop. Each day it becomes clearer – that amazing little miracle also requires a lot of help becoming a decent human being who understands how to show empathy, kindness, and obedience, not to mention one that eats her vegetables and can pull her own pants up.

There are some situations in particular that really shine a spotlight on the reality of life with a toddler. Restaurant dining is near the top of this list. Expectation: “Ahhh, a nice evening out with the family. No cooking or cleaning required. We’ll all sit and chat and enjoy each other’s company. This is going to be fantastic!” Reality: Almost immediately I come down from my going-out-to-dinner high, as my husband’s story is interrupted by constant reminders to “stay in your seat” and “use a quieter voice.” Then the nightly “vegetable manipulation” (as I like to call it) begins, and on dining-out night, the stakes are high. That delicious dessert, the driving force for all the broccoli and spinach consumption, arrives to the table before I know it. After savoring the last bite, I realize my husband never finished that story…

Craft time is another perfect opportunity for a reminder that life with a toddler isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, or works of exquisite art. Expectation: I always, always have lofty expectations for the finished project and the calming, delightful journey of creating together. Reality: Alas, there is more paint on my child than on that nice wooden birdhouse, and her choice of colors and strokes just totally clashes with my vision. Can you believe she didn’t align her style with my vision? And now she’s riding her scooter and saying she’s done painting. We started painting 2 minutes ago…

The good news, moms and dads of toddlers, is that at least we have vacation, right? Unfortunately, taking a trip requires some form of transportation, and be it a car or a plane, a toddler’s potty needs are rarely (and by rarely, I mean never) well-timed. The car is packed, everything at home is taken care of, and we pull out of the driveway and breathe a sigh of relief. Now it’s time to relax! But just as I begin to unwind and settle in, there it is. That voice from the back… “Mommy, I need to go potty!” Then there’s a whole questionnaire that must be meticulously answered involving how urgent this potty break really is. After all, we’ve only been in the car for 15 minutes. A determination is made: it’s crucial. We stop just across town and load back up in the car to finally hit the road to paradise which lies a mere six hours away. We hit the freeway – nothing but open road stands in our way! “Uh oh, mommy, I forgot… I need to poop…”