If you stop by my house at any point in time today, you may see any of the following: a kid pulling out the drawers and throwing food on the floor, a kid climbing on the fireplace, a kid ripping up the magazines from the basket and eating the pieces, a kid climbing out of the highchair, or a kid pulling the Xbox off of the entertainment center. Yes, I have three kids under five, but “the kid” I’m referring to is only one of them.
As a mom of two boys, I thought I had seen it all. Dirt, mud, sword fights, super hero jumps off the steps, you name it. However, my boys were two of the sweetest babies ever. They ate well, they slept well, and most importantly: they didn’t become mobile until after their first birthdays. Even then, if I set some toys out for them on the living room floor, they would play and be content. Wild as boys can be, their wildness was limited to their toys (and to each other); all of the baby-proofing items that I had purchased before becoming a mommy were sitting in a box at the back of the closet, never used.
And then I was pregnant with my third. After two fairly uneventful pregnancies with the boys, I knew right away that this time it was a girl. From day one, I was nauseous, and soon began vomiting nearly every day (sometimes more than once). At twenty weeks, my guess was confirmed: a girl! We were ecstatic, so excited to be bringing a sweet little girl home to her two big brothers! What a lucky girl! The pregnancy continued to get worse and worse; on top of the nausea and vomiting, my entire body ached at all times and I could barely care for my children. And the baby, oh my goodness she moved SO much! My boys were movers in the belly, but nothing like her. As I was on and off bedrest, the nurses on the help-line would tell me to count the movements for a couple minutes if I was ever worried about the baby; one night, I decided to do it just for fun (she seriously never stopped). I set a timer for one minute, and attempted to count her movements. I lost count around 67, and the timer hadn’t gone off yet.
Ironically enough, when my baby girl arrived (three weeks early) in August of last year, she turned out to be the quietest, calmest baby that I’ve had! She barely cried, she slept well like her brothers, and even at two or three months I could just sit with my family and play cards for hours without hearing a peep from her. And then, around six months, little miss Nora’s personality came through, and not a single one of us was prepared for what was about to come. My quiet, easy little princess became…well…let’s just say we could call this post “maniac Monday” instead.
Nora began crawling around 6-7 months; pretty normal, but still earlier than my boys started moving. And then, at barely 8 months, she crawled over to our fireplace, pulled herself up, and let go. She was standing! I couldn’t believe it. Again, I realized that many babies do this, but not my babies! She continued to pull herself up on any item she could get her hands on, and soon she was “walking” along the couch. All of the sudden, the memories of my exhausting (but also wonderful…let’s not leave that out!) pregnancy came back, and I realized that Nora was just being herself. Only this time, instead of my uterus, it was my house she was destroying! I decided not to put any of my “regular” decorations back up after Christmas, because I know it’s pointless. She can reach anything, pull anything down, and make a mess in a literal nanosecond. It’s not worth having a pretty vase or two, believe me.
Oh, and remember how I mentioned the Xbox cords? Her absolute favorite things. We have an entire house FULL of toys (and I mean full, and our house is not small…), and I could (and did) literally surround her with them. She will then proceed to crawl over the toys and make a mad dash for the TV, the phone charger, or anything else that involves electricity flowing through a cord that she can possibly put into her mouth. And speaking of her mouth, she has now learned to open her snack containers (or anything else really) with her teeth. As a first child, this may not be so bad. The easy solution is to have nothing on the floors, and then there’s no risk. But Nora is not a first baby; she’s a third baby, and her two brothers will leave anything and everything within her arm’s reach…I think you get the picture. (In fact, some of you might even have this same picture going on in your own house!)
About two weeks ago, my little baby girl took her first steps at 10 1/2 months old. About two months earlier than her brothers took a step, but to be honest she didn’t really need those steps. She could already get into, on top of, behind, or under pretty much everything in our entire house without walking (she’s also been climbing the stairs for over a month now, one of her other favorite things to do seven hundred times per day). And now, as I look around the first floor of our house, nearly empty (besides toys and somewhere to sit/eat), I realize the true meaning of the word personality. My daughter has enough of it for five (possibly more) children, and yet God chose to put it all into this little piggy-tailed, dirty-faced, beautiful princess of mine. Nothing like her brothers, and nothing like her mommy or daddy were as kids, my little Nora Jean is a perfect example, even at 11 months old, of originality and individuality. And, exhausting as it may be, I will try to remember this every day while I wipe the Cheerios off the wall and pull my little princess off of the coffee table. I love her just as much as I love her brothers, and they are all special to me in their own little ways. It is a precious gift to watch three healthy children grow up in my home, and to have the opportunity to love them and take care of them.
And you know what? My boys have always had a fairly long bedtime routine (books, movies, sometimes both, and then they are still laying in their beds awake and wanting to talk). But Nora? Nope. From the minute her head pops up in the morning, until the moment I take her piggy tails out and wrap her up at night, she is running full-speed. Just today, for example, after only learning to really walk about three days ago, she proceeded to walk all over the house and outside, all day long. Nope, not Nora. Her bedtime routine consists of a bottle and a place to put her head before it falls down (sometimes we don’t even get her a place fast enough and she falls asleep sitting up). Now that is something I could get used to! In the meantime, while she is passed out, if you are looking for me I will be at the back of the closet pulling out all of the baby-proofing stuff and attempting to figure out how to use it…
How about you? Do any of you have a BUSY toddler? Were your other babies (if you have them) that way too, or is this a first time for you as well? Any advice for me?