I never thought I’d be in the position where I’d be pining for the ‘simplicity’ of those early new-born days. But as I watch Emily maintain perfect eye contact with me as she extends her arm to pour her drink all over the floor, I can’t help but scoff at how easy I had it then.
Now, at 21 months old, she swings rapidly from defiantly independent to overwhelmingly clingy within the space of a few minutes. I get dizzy just trying to stay up to speed with her, both physically and emotionally.
I know she is just getting a handle on her emotions that are bubbling to the surface without a moments warning. But with the prospect of the ‘Terrible-Twos’ and the ‘Three-nager’ phase after that, all I can see in the near future is years of me wearily battling a toddler who is more stubborn than a week-old Weetabix stain.
There are days when I feel like the ‘Matron Mama Morton’ of my own maximum security jail, and the only inmate is Emily. She darts off at the speed of a greyhound out of the traps, and we’ve had more than one terrifying ordeal where she’s almost run into the road. To remedy this, I have to keep a beady eye on her at every second, ready to sprint in her direction when she inevitably tries to ‘Shawshank’ out of her Mummy Prison.
Then there are days where she’ll barely leave my hip, refusing to do anything unless I’m holding her close so that she can bury her face in my boobs. Those days feel so claustrophobic and intense.
All of these mixed emotions vying for attention must be confusing for her, and I’m trying to be as patient as I can be. But there are only so many times you can say ‘don’t slap mummy / don’t suck the end of the iPhone charger / don’t lick the soles of your shoes’ – things she repeatedly does with a wry smile on her face, just to get a rise out of me.
I know she wants my attention, and as someone who works from home, she has a-LOT of it, all the time. But when I try to focus her on something productive, engaging and fun, she thinks, ‘nah, stuff this, I’m gonna try and stuff a breadstick in the plug socket instead’.
So the ‘Terrible-Twos’ are still months off, and we’ve already had months of what I’m calling the ‘Wilfully-Disobedient-Ones’. And I moaned that I was stuck on the sofa feeding a lot with a new-born. What a daft sod I was.