Maybe it’s just me, but newborns seem to get a bad wrap a lot of the time. I often hear new mothers lamenting the fractured sleep-less nights, heavy dependence, lack of personal space and farewelling of all spontaneity. Don’t get me wrong, those things are hard and they definitely take some time to adjust to, especially when it comes to surrendering to what we cannot control. And sure, perhaps it’s because I myself have been through this stage of raising children four times now and have lived to see the other side; but I’d take a newborn over a toddler any day! (Which is probably why I had so many children…)
Why is that, you ask?
Well, firstly – they don’t talk
Yeah, sometimes they cry. In fact, this may even go on for extended periods of time. But whilst having a precious small human crying in your arms can be stressful, I still prefer it to the constant chatter and whining (oh the whining!) that comes when the small baby grows into a toddler. Babies don’t talk, so that means adult conversations can actually occur. Conversations can exist with your significant other that are actually meaningful and nourishing. But when you are the parent of a toddler, you have to practically schedule in a time to talk in between the incessant babble. Between meeting their ongoing demands which change depending on the time of day and even their mood, navigating tantrums and setting constant boundaries – phew!
They’re just so … portable
Another thing I love about newborns is how portable they are. Because they can’t, you know, walk – or run! They can hang out on your hip, suckle in your arms at the milk bar while you lay back on the couch or they can out in a carrier or a sling. They can even be fairly well contained on a rug on the floor and they don’t move, it’s fabulous – a stage which sadly just doesn’t seem to last long enough. Toddlers on the other hand seem to not only create havoc and distraction but it’s almost like chaos is something that they actually seek out. And don’t even try to contain them! Toddlers are innately curious, unstoppable forces of nature that buckle from being restrained because it goes against their natural learning instincts. Which brings me to my final point.
You are their entire world
I love newborns because at the end of the day all they really need is just you, their mama. You are their entire world. All the comfort, nourishment and safety that they desire in their world can come solely from you. Whilst I understand that this can sometimes seem like an enormous amount of pressure to manage not to mention a huge responsibility, in all honesty it really is an honour. Toddlers on the hand, change their preferences of needs and wants on a minute-to-minute basis. They are unpredictable and bring exhaustion to a whole new level. With a newborn it’s fairly safe to assume that if they’re unhappy it’s because they’ve pooped, need to feed or are tired. When a toddler is unhappy it’s pretty much a matter of throwing random ideas and suggestions out into the universe until one meets their whim. Relaxing, right?
The toddler years are definitely tougher
The positive news is, at least there’s a fairly logical reason as to why toddlers can seem so challenging. It’s because they are learning about their world and seeking guidance from their parents to find out where they fit in it. So whilst I lament these exhausting years of negotiations and constant problem-solving, they really are laying the foundations for years to come. I know it does pay off, and the milky memories of a sweet-smelling newborn snuggled against my chest will help get me through.