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6 Things You'll Miss About the Toddler Years

The Terrible Twos can take a toll on us mamas, making us long for the time when our kids are a little bit older and a little more self-sufficient. The days slip by, then the months, and one day you blink and your 4-year-old is saying he can put his socks and shoes on by himself and he doesn't need you. That little pang you feel is the knowledge that your baby is growing up and there will be fewer and fewer things he needs you to do for him.

There are so many things I will miss when my kids are older; there are so many things I already miss now that they're out of diapers, walking, talking and starting school. Trying to hold onto these moments is like trying to catch water in my hand, but that doesn't stop me from trying.

Here are 6 moments every mom misses when the toddler years are over.

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1. Holding hands

In a year or two I know I'll have to say, "Hold my hand when we cross the street," and my boys will roll their eyes and sigh.

It's not always convenient to hold my kids' hands. Sometimes I'm pushing a grocery cart or carrying a suitcase or simply want to have one hand free. But my heart melts every time one of them comes up behind me and tucks his hand into mine. In a year or two I know I'll have to say, "Hold my hand when we cross the street," and my boys will roll their eyes and sigh. So I'm enjoying these quiet moments when they slip their hands into mine because they want to hold my hand.

2. Cuddling

My kids are getting too big for lap cuddling, but that doesn't stop my youngest from trying. He is still small enough to sit in my lap with his legs tucked up and his knobby knees under his chin. He curves an arm around me and I remember, oh how I remember, what it was like to be pregnant with this little guy who is getting bigger every day. It's one of those heart achingly bittersweet moments and I'm going to savor for as long as it lasts.

3. The excitement over little things

The jaded teen (and tween?) years are still ahead of us and everything is still new and thrilling. My oldest son literally cannot contain himself over things he finds exciting; his arms become a windmill and he bounces in place, talking a mile a minute. "Mama, did you see the squirrel? Mama, there's a squirrel outside!" Never mind that he's seen that squirrel, or one like it, nearly every day of his young life. It's still exciting—and his excitement makes me so happy. I hope they never lose their excitement over the little moments in life.

4. All of the questions

My 6-year-old is more quiet and introverted than my 4-year-old. Plus, my older son's questions tend to be straightforward and he's content with a straightforward answer. So I wasn't prepared for the onslaught of curiosity as soon as my younger son could talk. He has a question about everything and a dozen follow-up questions. It's never-ending, from when he first wakes up in the morning until his eyes close at bedtime. I find myself looking forward to the day when he doesn't have so many questions. But I admit, I'll miss feeling like I'm his whole world—or at least the source of most of his information because he thinks I know everything. (I'll even miss having to look things up because I want to give him an accurate answer about how an airplane stays in the air instead of just guessing.)

5. That sweet, sleeping face

Is there anything sweeter than the face of a sleeping child? I'm hoping they won't outgrow this, but it's hard to believe they'll be this precious when they're in middle school. Those last few moments before they fall asleep, where they're soft and warm and so incredible sweet. I love those moments as I watch them sleep, so peaceful and safe with their stuffed animals, tucking deeper under their favorite blankets. They are my little ones, and no matter how big they get, I will remember these moments when they slept and filled my heart until it was bursting.

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6. Celebrating the milestones

Oh, I know we'll celebrate their many accomplishments over the years, but there is something special about these early milestones. When my youngest walked at 10 months, his not-quite-3-year-old brother was so excited for him. "Baby walking! Baby walking!" he exclaimed, clapping as his baby brother toddled over to him. When my oldest lost his first tooth, his little brother kept asking to see the tooth and couldn't stop talking about the riches his brother would receive from the Tooth Fairy. It's not just watching them experience the milestones, it's being able to share them as a family. These are the memories we'll all have when they grow up and make their own lives. I'm not even close to ready to think about that, so for now I'll savor the first days of school and the first glasses of juice poured without assistance.

Photograph by: Kristina Wright

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