Cheers to the Toddler Years

The first day of school is almost upon us, with a whole host of fresh new “firsts” and beginnings.

So why do I feel so sad, like something is ending?

It’s no secret I’m not a huge fan of the newborn or infant stage – I really hit my stride as a mom in toddlerhood. As soon as those babies start communicating with words, life feels so much easier. I’ll take irrational toddler tantrums over inconsolable colic crying or sleep regressions any day. Years two through five have been my sweet spot, and I can’t imagine what life with big kids will be like. People keep telling me bigger kids, bigger problems, and it makes me anxious.

I know I’m not the first mother on the planet to feel nervous about her child starting kindergarten. I know I’ll be laughing at myself a few months from now after we’ve adjusted. But until that time comes, I can’t help but feel like we’re leaving a special part of life behind.

We stretched out our days at the preschool a little longer with summer camp, but as that comes to a close, we’re facing the reality of lots of big changes coming up. I feel like I’m looking in the rearview mirror at his precious toddler years– oftentimes difficult, but innocent and sweet.

My son is nervous about starting at a new school with new kids – kids who likely have known each other from attending the preschool there. I don’t blame him one bit.

I am risk-averse, opposed to change, hesitant, and shy (or as I prefer to say observatory) – and I see all these things in my son, too. But every day I remind him how brave, curious, and friendly he can be. I remind him that being brave doesn’t mean not being scared. I shower him with confidence and hope it sticks.

And secretly– I hope it sticks for me, as well.

We’re definitely leaving this part of life behind. No more casually being late and the teachers laughing it off because, well, toddlers. No more letting my kid wear dinosaur shirts or two different shoes, blue and turquoise because he can’t decide which pair to wear. No more deciding at our convenience when we wanted to do a half-day of school for appointments or other factors. 

I recognize that change is inevitable. This is life! Maybe the best is yet to come. All I know is that I have loved these toddler preschool years, and it’s hard to say goodbye. But it’s time to say hello. Cheers to the toddler years — but growing up is inevitable. Hello to new, hello to brave, hello to kindergarten … and beyond!

Erica lives in Kenner with her husband Michael and her three sons, Benjamin, Joshua, and Elijah. After graduating from UL Lafayette with a degree in advertising and landing her dream job, she left her chosen field and now works part time as an administrative assistant for a Catholic retreat movement. She spends the rest of her time at home with her boys, finding lost toys and actively ignoring various messes. In 2019, she self-published her first book, The Sister. There's not a lot of free time between working, reading and writing, and chasing her kids, but in those moments she's usually sprawled on the sofa in casual denial about just how messy her house is.

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