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What a Difference a Year Makes

Exploring the differences in parenting from the first year to the second.

Coming up on my son Desmond’s second birthday, I’ve been fondly reflecting on this past year. It’s amazing how far we’ve come. This time last year he was just crawling, had a handful of definable words, and was still eating soft foods. Now he’s running everywhere, talking in full sentences, and eating everything in sight. From baby to little man in the blink of an eye.

Over this holiday vacation I had the pleasure of watching my 5-month old nephew for a couple of days. The experience was full of flashbacks to baby-hood. That first year came back to me like it was yesterday. It was not that long ago, after all, and yet it feels like a century. It’s mind-boggling how quickly and dramatically they grow. And with every new development comes a new set of challenges.

There are aspects of the second year that were easier than the first. Des learned to consistently sleep through the night, which means WE were sleeping through the night (Amen, Hallelujah, etc). I do not miss those wakeful newborn nights. I also do not miss lugging around a diaper bag full of bottles and supplies in order to feed every 2-3 hours. There’s something nice about being able to sit down at a table as a family and all eat the same meal.

Des also learned to play more independently. I feel like I have my arms back now that I can put him down and he can play on his own. Of course, I can’t take my eyes off of him for very long for fear of a toy ending up in the toilet. But such is toddler-hood. He can also communicate his needs more easily as he learns more and more words every day. Just as I was typing he came over to me and said, “Animal crackers.” You got it, kiddo! No crying or whining necessary. Not that either of those things don’t have their place in this house.

And gradually through this year we have become more comfortable in our routines, and therefore more confident as a parenting team. I can only hope that continues through the 3rd year and beyond.

Of course there are the obvious challenges that come with dealing with a growing toddler rather than a baby. Going out to eat used to be a fairly simple process. As a baby he would usually sleep through the meal or be content to sit in the carrier. Now it is a delicate process of timing and distractions. Certain toys are a must, meals must be ordered a timely fashion, and even when all the stars align it is still a slippery slope to Meltdown City in the middle of the restaurant. Dealing with a budding attitude and frequent tantrums has also been an eye-opener. Suddenly my squishy little baby has started to blatantly disobey us. The time-out chair is visited on a daily basis. Boundaries are constantly tested and stretched to the limits. Unfortunately I don’t see this changing any time soon (breathe in, and out...).

Ask any parent which age is the most fun or the most challenging and you’ll get a different answer every time. I can tell you my favorite thing about our son’s first year was getting all the cuddles I wanted without having to chase him down.  And the best thing about the second year has been hearing him say, “I love you, mumma.” As fast as it goes by, I look forward to so many more ‘favorites’ in the future.

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