I'll love you forever, daughter, but I can't promise to always like you....Now, before you go put your "kids are a blessing"pants on, stick with me. Every toddler parent in America totally gets where I'm going with this. Unless they're a rainbow mom. A rainbow mom is the one posting pictures of her beautiful, clean, well-behaved child with captions expressing her deep adoration. Then there's me. I go from zero to 60 with my two-year-old, disciplining her with a voice at an octave so low it'd make Liam Neeson shake in his boots. Don't get me wrong, I love my daughter something fierce. But that doesn't mean I have to like her when she throws herself on the floor and violently thrashes around because I put her popcorn in the yellow bowl instead of the pink bowl.
No, no it does not.
Or when she cries hysterically at her school Halloween party, vehemently refusing to trick or treat, or take a picture with her classmates. To the moms who passed me in the daycare hallway that afternoon, with their "I've been there, and I'm sure as hell not judging you because you're a great mom" eyes, THANK YOU. It was shocking. I'm convinced toddler mood swings could put Kanye West on Twitter to shame. Overnight, my toddler apparently became horrified by the thought of eating candy. Because what kind of parent dresses their daughter up like a princess and allows her to carry around a pink jack-o-lanternbucket to fill with more candy than a full-sized adult could ever eat?
I spent the week leading up to said Halloween party buying supplies to create the coolest Trick-or-Trunk display in the parking lot, only to have my daughter spend the majority of the party face down on the concrete. Rookie mistake.
And bedtime. Such a joy. Especially when she insists there's NO WAY she's going to sleep if her blue turtle nightlight is on. You know, the one she's slept with for 30 consecutive months – 913 nights to be exact.
The other morning, I noticed one of my daughter's socks slipped over the top of the monitor in her room. When I asked about it, my husband told me that she became hysterical the night before about the microscopic green light on the monitor's display. So he did what any parent would do. He found a frickin' sock and stuck that bad boy on there.
When you parent a toddler, you become the most manipulative and resourceful human being to ever walk the earth.
I also didn't particularly like my toddler when she ran into my office one evening with her pants off and squatted down to drop a few man-sized deuces on the carpet. Potty Training. Now that's a funphase. I'm sorry, but if you like your kid after they crap on the floor for the umpteenth time, go ahead and change your name to Mother Theresa.
You don't want to know how many tiny pairs of Disney princess panties have been thrown away over the past six months. Too many to count. Just because I'm a mom doesn't mean I need to tolerate scrubbing adult-sized, caked-in poop off of Cinderella's face. No way, lady. I don't care how many packs I have to buy.
But then. Then she notices a tiny "boo boo" on my thumb. After looking up at me with deep concern in her eyes, she leans over and plants a precious little kiss to make it feel all better. I love her so much in these moments that my heart feels as if it may burst.
This daughter of mine, she can make me laugh more than anyone else. I love that about her, too. A trip to the toilet in our house is often followed by a very enthusiastic announcement about how big her poop was. We're not sure where this excitement comes from, as her Dad and I don't have the same reaction to our bathroom visits. But if they're in the toilet, mommy is proud of your "big poops," sweetheart.
I love watching her imagination take shape. My favorite evenings, when the phone is put away and dinner can wait, we spend an hour doting on her sick baby doll. She brings the doll to me with a worried look on her face, telling me to take the baby's temperature.
We quickly realize that dolly has a fever and needs to go to the doctor, so we wrap her up in her baby sister's pink fuzzy blanket, strap her into her stroller, and off we go to the laundry room that doubles as a dolly doctor’s office.
But wait, she can't take dolly to the doctor without her purse loaded up with her "cell phone" and "car keys." Oh, and we can't forget her "shoes," the plush bunny slippers we stumble across in the corner of the playroom.
As I sit there in the living room, watching her walk by with her purse on her shoulder, pushing her sick baby doll in the stroller, I want to stop time and never, ever forget these moments. It's these memories – not the tantrums, not the whining – that will come back to me as I sit in a bridal shop someday, watching my daughter try on her wedding gown. It's these moments that will flash thru my mind as I watch my daughter hold her newborn baby for the first time. As big as her tantrums can be, my love for her will always be bigger.