I went into lockdown with a baby and emerged with a toddler. The moment of realisation came when cafes opened back up here in Sydney.
I walked past one of our locals and thought, yep, why not? Ezra and I can sit down at a table, I'll order a coffee for me and some food for us both and it'll be lovely. I mean, for most of his life he's happily sat at cafes in either the pram, my arms or a highchair. Heck, when he was younger, he'd even fall fast asleep as the coffee machine buzzed in the background.
But I was about to learn, that with an almost 18-month-old, sitting at a cafe is most definitely a thing of the past. That day, he sat in the highchair for a minute. Even my bribe of banana bread was rebuffed. Ezra wanted out. In his mind there were far more exciting activities to attend to.
He climbed a chair, knocked on a window, picked up a nearby traffic cone, patted a pooch, picked up a stick. But when I drew the line at him trying to run off down the footpath or splash around in a doggie water bowl, well, he wasn't pleased, and it was tanty time (that is our word for a tantrum, which makes it sound a lot more pleasant than it actually is).
As he lay down on the ground and wailed, a lady who had her three primary school aged sons standing next to her looked at me with kind, understanding eyes and said: "Don't worry, I've been through it three times." I appreciated the thought, but my baby banshee and I got out of there quick smart. Good bye cafes, farewell avo on toast.
On the topic of chucking a wobbly, I've noticed toddlers have this incredible ability to arch and stiffen their backs in an attempt to slip out of any car seat, highchair or pram. It's quite ingenious really. But hey, the odd tantrum is just part and parcel of being aged somewhere between one and three. They're still so young and are working out how to process, express and regulate their emotions. It's completely normal.
Distraction and negotiation are your best friends. And you know what? I've seen a fair few adults chuck a tantrum every now and then too. Another thing I've noticed since becoming a toddler parent, is that the words "careful," "gentle," "sharing" and "no" are uttered more than any other word in the English language. I know a lot of parenting experts say you shouldn't say "no" and should instead offer an alternative activity.
But when your toddler is sticking say his toothbrush, your makeup brush or a maraca into the toilet bowl, I'm sorry, but no, no, no and no are the only words that tumble from my mouth and I cannot think of a suitable alternative.
But I must say, 99.99 per cent of the time, Ezra is an absolute delight. He is so happy and full of joy. He loves life and you're most likely to find him smiling from ear to ear.
Another parent once told me that between 12 and 18 months is the hardest age. Yes, it's full on and intense and at times exasperating. But I reckon it's my favourite age yet.
They are just SO cute. I adore watching his lovely personality really start to shine. Our boy is clever, sweet, funny, inquisitive, independent, adventurous, affectionate, cheeky and the best thing since sliced bread. We have so much fun together. I simply love spending time with him, watching him discover the wonders of this world.
Playgrounds are everything now. We normally hit two playgrounds a day, once in the morning and again in the afternoon. He's crazy for the swings and will giggle and smile as he goes back and forward saying "again" over and over. He'd probably stay on there for an hour if he could. But of course, we must share!
Another of Ezra's favourite things in the world is The Wheels On The Bus. He could read that book a million times and can sing along to the song and do all the actions. We have it on repeat at every meal.
Ezra laughs his head off when we tickle him and gives us the biggest and best cuddles and kisses. I love seeing his skill level go through the roof and I marvel at how big and grown up my boy is getting.
He even likes to pick out his own shoes these days, dinosaur gum boots more often than not. His favourite trick at the moment is waving and saying bye to everyone he sees on the street.
It's so sweet. Plus, along with high fives, he's learnt how to fist bump. Proud mama alert!
I love watching as he masters something new at swimming lessons or in the playground. He beams with pride at me and my heart explodes. That face! Those cheeks! Squish.
Although my vocabulary has been reduced to four words, Ezra's is growing exponentially every day. Bus, car, star, fish, cheese, shoes and of course daddy and mum-mum-mum-mum are some of his faves. But just in the past few days he's picked up glasses, turtle, eat, gone and dig! He's also been known to do a particularly good impression of Carl and I saying "no" and waggling our fingers at him.
You know when kids do hilarious things and you have to use all your might not to burst out laughing?
So, to start wrapping up. It's incredible how something can simultaneously be so full on yet so wonderful and magical.
Yes, it takes all your energy to run after a toddler all day.
And yes, it can be terrifying. Even though you're tired, you need to have the reflexes of a cat to constantly avert disaster.
Toddlers love climbing everything, and their balance is still a work in progress. I'm always worried he's going to fall off the bed/couch/playground equipment and hurt himself. Hello helicopter mum!
But I know I'll look back on these days with my beautiful son and think that they were the best days of my life.
So, mamas and papas with younger babies, enjoy those leisurely visits to cafes while you can!! Andffor that matter, trips to the shops. (Westfield was my safe haven in those early days – instant adult company, protection from the rain, coffee and those awesome Parent's Rooms. Tick!) But now with a toddler, shopping trips are a mad dash because what 18-month-old really wants to be strapped into their pram for long periods?
But I digress… make the most of those times but know that the best is yet to come. All the effort you're putting into your bubba now will come back to you in spades when they're a toddler and you can see what a delightful little human you're creating.
If you're looking for me, you'll find me with my (large) cappuccino at a playground and I wouldn't have it any other way.
And before I go, I must say thank you to Emma, Lachy, Simon and Anthony – because we couldn't do this without you guys!
In all seriousness, Carl and I couldn't do this without the lovely Lindy, who helps us take care of Ezra. She's the real MVP here! Thank you!