5 Ways a Three Year Old is the Same as an InfantSeptember 11th, 2013
The infant stage is rough. That 4th trimester is no joke, and I spent MUCH of my daughters say, first 5 months wondering WHEN THE INSANITY WOULD END? I should have known better. It’s not that I really WANTED it to end, it’s just that I wanted to feel like I had a hope in hell of surviving parenthood and back then, I didn’t think I did (not that I do now).
And then it passed and things were different. I hesitate to say it gets “easier” because from what I know, it never truly gets “easier”. It just gets different. Things change, and what once seemed insurmountable quickly becomes old news, and then you’re facing a new challenge. You go from the toils of breastfeeding and sleep deprivation to the struggles of feeding a picky toddler who incidentally has decided that napping is for suckers. When change happens, the new thing seems the most overwhelming and impossible, and the thing you went through last month pales in comparison.
Eventually you get a few years behind you and you realize it will never get easier. It will get different, and sometimes, different feels better. Other times you actually find yourself longing for the days of infancy, thinking if you knew then what you know now, you would have breezed through those diaper blowouts and sleepless nights; because no matter how difficult your infant was, you had almost complete control over them.
When they develop into autonomous beings, you’re looking at a three year old who THINKS she doesn’t need you and is acting like a maniac. It isn’t as easy to excuse the insanity because she’s a baby. You feel like she should comprehend basic concepts like going to bed, but she doesn’t. So, you start to wonder, was it all really that hard back then?
It was because you were living it, but now that you’re living this, it seems maybe it wasn’t.
I’m not saying it’s better or worse to have one or the other, just that it’s different. Different in almost completely the same way (I know, that’s an oxymoron, just like the rest of parenting). Let me show you how.
5 Ways Your Threenager is Just Like an Infant:
1 – Sleeping: Infants can’t figure out how to do it and threenagers just don’t want to. I never imagined spending more time getting my 3 year old to sleep than the 2 hours it took rocking her there as an infant, but some nights, she rivals her infant self. As an infant she cried and I didn’t know why and I was sure it was because she thought I abandoned her or didn’t love her.
Now that she’s 3, she tells us what she’s crying about by screaming gems such as “I JUST WANT SOMEONE TO LOOOOOOOVE ME!!!” Or “I AM ALL ALONE UP HEEEEEEEEEEEEEERE” from her bed. Touché kid, but the thing is, it’s 9:15pm and after 5 stories, fresh water, and countless cuddles, I’m at a loss for how to prove my love. We’ll try again tomorrow.
2 – Eating: As an infant I couldn’t figure out how to feed her properly, and once I got that down I quickly realized knowing how to feed someone and being able to get them to eat are not the same thing. And this holds true today. As an infant, my daughter would fall asleep during meals, get distracted by everything, or otherwise randomly refuse to nurse. The times she did want to eat were always the least convenient, like 10 mins into a 45 minute drive or as soon as I put a fork to my own lips. When I had all the time in the world to feed her, she could care less.
Now? Well some of the same principals stand in that I know HOW to feed her properly I just don’t know how to get her to eat. And she still wants to eat at inconvenient times, like 100% of the moments not dedicated to snacks or meals and 0% of the time she’s at the table with a plate of food in front of her. She also still needs me to feed her the moment my fork hits my lips.
3 – Crying: As an infant my daughter would spend periods of time crying and otherwise acting hysterical and mostly I couldn’t sort out why. I’d check her diaper, throw a boob at her or try to burp her, and nothing. She refused to sleep so I’m certain it had much to do with being over tired. I spent a lot of time crying myself, asking her WHY and hoping she would tell me. She never did, but she always eventually stopped.
At 3, she still does this. Only, it’s a bit more dramatic and is often accompanied by stomping or throwing things or flopping on the floor. Most of the time, I still cannot sort out why, despite her being VERY advanced in her vocabulary. From what I can ascertain it mostly has to do with the air not being made of cheese or her pinky finger not being a toe but, I’m still at a loss about what to do, and I still cry in the dark. And with her not liking sleep, I’m sure some of it still has to do with being tired.
4 – Separation Anxiety: As an infant, my daughter went through several stages of sheer terror at the thought of me moving out of her peripheral vision. It makes sense because she lived within me for so long it must have been weird sitting on the other side. Plus, as a breast feeding kid she knew that all the comfort and nourishment resided in my breasts and if I left, they did too. She also lacked a frame of reference for understanding I didn’t cease to exist when she couldn’t see me.
Now? We’re back to her being horrified at the idea I might leave her, if even for a moment. We’ve done the same daycare routine for literally 2.5 years now. It’s the same place, same people, same thing, only now she’s back to clinging to me, climbing me and throwing down hysterics when I try to leave. And don’t even talk to me about the nights I escape to yoga.
5 – Being Punctual: When you have an infant, getting anywhere in a timely fashion is impossible, even if you give yourself a 30 minute buffer. As an infant my daughter would ensure I was late for everything by demanding to eat a mere 20 mins after her last feeding or having a complete diaper blowout while en route, rendering the car seat covered in poop as well as 17 layers of adorable baby clothes which then needed to be removed and hosed down…and then you know, she was hungry.
At 3, she can turn a 3 min walk to the car into a 45 min production. Between trying to choose the right shoes to getting her to walk in a forward progressive fashion, getting anywhere is just as challenging today as it ever was. I attempt to give her freedom to doddle when I can, and not get too stressed about the 86 rocks she needs to collect from our very own yard, but sometimes mama needs to get to work. And without fail, she will have to pee the moment my key goes in the ignition…and NOT a moment before.
So you see, it’s not easier, it’s just different. So if you’re staring longingly as your infant is growing, wishing you’d made more time for the early stages, never fear because it really doesn’t end. And if like me, you’re wondering how a 3 year old can be just as complicated as an infant, well then the joke is on both of us