Better and better

By Mir
January 24, 2009

I was wasting time on Facebook earlier today when I really should’ve been working (and not just in a “gosh, I should probably be working” kind of way, but in a “OH MY HOLY HELL I HAVE A DEADLINE AND I’M NOT DONE AND THE ONLY CURE FOR THIS PARALYSIS IS MORE SCRAMBLE!” kind of way), and —like everyone else in the world—I’ve been reconnecting with people I haven’t seen since childhood, and I came across someone’s picture of her toddler and commented on it that I miss toddler bellies.

Because I do. There is nothing quite like the proud pot-belly of a toddler. My lips twitch with the urge to zerbert such abdomens whenever I see them.

My children have bellies that I will still occasionally zerbert—I’m not made of STONE or anything—but my daughter can wear my shoes and my son’s mouthful of braces sets off metal detectors within five miles. (Let’s not discuss the smell issue. Ahem.) In short, their baby days are long gone.

Anyone who knows me knows that I ADORE babies. Mine, yours, random strangers’, whatever. I’m drawn to tiny people. And sometimes I become overly nostalgic for the old days, when my babies WERE babies and I could scoop them up and make the whole world better with a graham cracker. It was a simpler time, sure, plus they were just SO CUTE.

And then sometimes I realize that as much as it gets harder, it also gets so much better.

Like, three years ago my son had a sleepover and it was a complete disaster. But last night he had a sleepover here with a couple of buddies and it was delightful. Yes, DELIGHTFUL. It helps that I adore his friends and they’re sweet boys, but mostly it helps that now they are older and really good at entertaining themselves, even if most of that entertainment does consist of jumping off Monkey’s bed or playing Mario Kart until I turn off the television.

It’s true that I had to go upstairs at 3:30 this morning and use my best Don’t Mess With Mama voice to announce that I was CERTAIN that there were no small boys PLAYING at such an ungodly hour, and that I must’ve been woken by SOMETHING ELSE, sure. But on the whole it was a very minor imposition, and you really can’t place a value on watching small boys grabbing for FISTFULS of bacon at breakfast. Heh.

And while I would’ve preferred that my daughter hadn’t won a prize for her last-minute science project, the fact that she went on to take first in her division in the County fair today makes it pretty difficult to be annoyed. Actually, the fact that she totally RECOGNIZES that I want to be annoyed but can’t makes it difficult to be annoyed.

Plus, you know, as much as I miss having babies, it was pretty cool last night when I was looking for a way to get Chickadee to leave the boys alone, and discovered that she’s totally up for watching “What Not To Wear” with me. We couldn’t do that back when she still thought I was coolest person in the world. And there’s definitely something to be said for those cuddled-up moments of discussing someone’s hemline as being even more precious, given that 98% of the time these days I’m the stupidest stupidhead who ever lived.

I guess I’m saying I’ll always have a thing for toddler bellies, but I’m definitely learning to appreciate the finer points of big stinky feet, too.


  1. ChristieNY

    Congratulations to Monkey for the successful sleepover, to Chickie for first place in the county fair (and for learning a lesson) and for Mama for embracing her amazing kiddos!

    You can come zerbert my toddlers belly, but you may have to change his diaper, tie his shoes and help him with his food. I’m looking forward to the independence that comes along with the stinky feet! ;)

  2. ~annie

    I also yearn for those toddler bellies, especially when I’m listening to my teen bemoan the fact that she doesn’t weigh enough to donate blood, yet the very next day I am called to calm her anxieties about her “fat” legs. And yet, as we speak, she is off with her youth group, packing meals for the hungry. Pretty cool, those big kids!

  3. meghann

    We’re kind of in that weird place right now where we are going through both phases. My oldest is Monkey’s age, but he has 3 younger siblings, the youngest of which is 2. It’s so cool having the older ones around, because they’re like real people now. But there are days when doors are slammed because I said 4 hours on the computer is enough, and I really miss when they were little.

    So I am being sure to enjoy the heck out of the youngest one still being small. Some days, when she has colored all over the walls, I long for when she’s older and I no longer have to deal with stuff like that. Then an older sibling will say something like “Mom, what’s sex?” and I’ll pick my 2 year old up and hug her tight and revel in how awesome little kids are.

  4. Laura

    And in another fifteen years or so, you might have grand-toddlers, with wonderful toddler bellies, that you can send home at the end of the day, once they’re tired and cranky.

  5. Sheila

    Well, despite being the stupidest stupidhead who ever lived, you managed to have some darn smart kids. Way to go, Chickadee!

    I do have to disagree with you though, about being awakened at 3:30 in the morning qualifying as a “minor imposition.” Part of the trade-off of the kids losing those zerberty bellies is the obligation on their part to sleep through the night, at least in my book.

  6. Barbara

    Despite the implied context, I really do not know what a zebert is. Yiddish?

    Last minute poster board stuff – what does that teach? – she won for her thought process. My Hubby science teacher says they will do science fair projects on power-point next year.

    I’m drawn the their little noggins.

    Whatever a zebert is, sounds like your better know the parents first….and like ChristieNY said, the belly is MUCH closer to the diaper…just saying.

  7. juliness

    I needed to hear this post today because I am smack in the middle of the “Oh Dear Lord, This Is Hard” part of toddlerhood. (PS THANK YOU for that email a couple years ago gently reminding me not to do this by myself!)

    I think the secret is to find something cool at each stage of the process. You know, so you don’t strangle anyone.

  8. meghann

    Barbara- zerbert=raspberry.

  9. Heather

    Heh oh we do love to zerbert the bellies! I also like pretending to eat their tiny, precious feet! I want a baby :P Except that I don’t think I’m ready for a kid hah!

  10. Pat

    I have just discovered the joys of Facebook! I have found a couple of old friends who I haven’t seen or talked to in ages. Mir, I SO want to friend you!

  11. Jill in Atlanta

    I really thought zerbert was our family word and not common. Do you tickle the hamhocks of toddlers too? Just checking to see if these are southern things. (hamhocks are chubby baby thighs) Personally, I go for sniffing baby heads. It is perfectly legal and oh so sweet. Mine still have heads that smell good when they’re sweaty (4&7) but I won’t get near the feet anymore. I just borrow babies now. Then when they smell less-than-sweet I can give them back.

  12. Anisha

    I love zerbert-ing my baby’s belly! I think I like it way more than she does. Every time I do it she just kinda looks at me like- Okay mama, are you done now?

  13. Julie

    And then, before you know it ………
    The Baby (Lil Daughter) is havin’ a Baby. And the raspberry (zerbert)takes on a whole new meaning.
    I do them really gently now. ;)

  14. Anna

    Not that I’m competitive or anything, but my high score is 218. Can you beat that?! (mostly kidding.)

  15. mama speak

    I know your version of it is exhausting in it’s own right, but so is toddler-dom. Those bellys have have to filled and aren’t so good on getting fed on their own, or remember to keep the crayons on the paper, etc…I’m just saying while the zerbertish tummy’s are wonderful they come a price tag too.

    Today, was obviously, a little rough on me.

  16. Lady M

    Thanks for giving me things to look forward to. I’m typing while holding a sleepy babester . . . so cute . . . but it will be nice when he can do things like hold a conversation too.

  17. Cele

    Over the Christmas holiday my daughter was home and during an enjoyable evening we watched What Not To Wear. I adore the show, but sadly it’s not an idealic notion to cuddle with your 32 year old daughter. So we bonded over rocky road ice cream instead. ahhhh.

  18. Jessica (from It's my life...)

    My toddler loves to grab her naked belly when I’m dressing her and shout “BELLAH!” as she slaps it. I know it’ll be lovely to do grown-up girly things when she’s bigger, but for right now I’m going to relish scooping her up after that and kissing her “bellah” over and over until she’s laughing as hard as me.

  19. Linda

    Zerbert (from what I remember) came from the Cosby show. At least that’s where I learned it. :)

  20. momzen

    I’m with Meghann… got all ages at once. And each one makes me crazy. And each one is my favorite. But, yeah, I’m a baby-stealer whenever I can get away with it. Yum!

  21. StephLove

    My almost three year old likes to pull up her shirt and arch her back while she’s looking in the mirror and say, “Look how big my tummy is!” in a delighted tone.

    She also told me she will “grow bigger and bigger and bigger” and grow breasts all before she goes to “the red school” (her brother’s elementary school). I’d prefer she grew the breasts sometime AFTER kindergarten, well after.

  22. elizabeth

    aahhh, baby bellies.
    you must be doing it right to have Chickie know why you want to be annoyed and still be willing to snuggle up to watch WNTW. (and yeah to Chickie for the win!)

  23. Megan

    I have always maintained that this kid thing gets better. Babies were sweet and cute and cuddly (and hard work) but MAN do I adore my teens – they’re fantastic people and so amazingly cool and we lie around and just laugh together. This morning we’re off for a very stiff hike and then we’ll come home and get homework done and make Sunday omelets and crack totally lame jokes and just enjoy hanging out together. Much as I loved every phase we went through I wouldn’t go back and miss out on all this.

    Even with the smell and the mess…

  24. Stephanie

    You have great kids, Mir. I kwym about learning to enjoy…I often become nostalgic for the “baby days”, but just tell myself that each “phase” has it’s ups and downs and I’m just so glad I have the opportunity to live through each of them with my little sweetie.

    To all those mommies who are “awaiting” the sort of days Mir is having…PLEASE just ENJOY ENJOY ENJOY….the baby days will be gone before you know it. One day, you’ll wake up and it will seem like another life with that tiny bundle of babydom. Don’t rush it! It WILL come and it will happen more quickly than you can possibly imagine.


  25. All Adither

    I’m looking forward to the independence too. But I’m trying so hard to appreciate the belly, the small, soft (nonstinky) feet and the fact that I CAN STILL carry my daughter around (even though she’s almost 50 pounds.)

  26. the domestic fringe

    This was a great post. I enjoyed it. I was starting to feel badly because my oldest will be 9 on Thursday. They’re growing up too quickly. It seems like just yesterday…


  27. Javamom

    I got a tot. She’s got one of those bellies. I called it her milk belly. I must learn how to freeze time. When she toddles naked to her bath, everyone in her path smiles. Toddler bodies are just so cute it makes me want to eat them!

    The other one is 3. He has no belly left. When exactly does a toddler boy body become a BOY body? He’s so lean and long and non-toddlerish, still cute, but I don’t really want to eat him anymore….*sigh*

  28. arduous

    Hmm. Cele, I’m 29 and I totally still cuddle with my mom. I actually like it more now than when I was ten, because when you get to be an adult you realize that no one will love you in quite the way that your mom will. ;)

  29. Chrisoula

    A longtime lurker and reader here, never before commented, but this post really got the eyes all watery (and it’s not even a love thursday post!)
    My oldest is almost 10, youngest is almost 2 and I have a 5 y.o. in the middle. There are days when I look forward to the younger ones being more independent and self-sufficient like the 10 y.o., other days I wish they were as innocently clueless and goofy as the 2 y.o. As others have said, there are definitely pros and cons of the various ages and stages. But, babies — the smell, the chub, the little fingers and toes…oh yes, I miss that. There is definitely truth to that old phrase “the days are long, but the years are short.”

    And, zerbert…I’m pretty sure it does come from The Cosby Show. Our kids have been watching it on DVD. There’s a scene where Rudy and Cliff are sitting at their kitchen table and Rudy says something like “Dad, what does zrbt spell?” and Cliff (after a brief thoughtful pause) says “zerbert”. He then proceeds to give her a raspberry and the rest is zerbert history.
    My kids think zerberts are hilarious.

  30. jennielynn

    I needed the reminder, as I had lost sight of the preciousness of toddler (and preschooler) bellies. Doesn’t mean I’m not jonesing for the day they can pour their own cereal, though.

  31. MomCat

    I much prefer the mom-sized, stinky feet! Even with the eye rolls, heavy sighs and all. Bring on the intellectual hemline discussions!

  32. Kelly

    Haha – so you can totally borrow my 18-month old and her very adorable pot belly.

    Also, I cannot wait until she can watch ‘What Not to Wear’ with me, the best show ever.

  33. Katie in MA

    I think I’m in love with 5. 5 goes into the other room and plays for hours with dolls and Diego sets and art supplies. But 5 also loves to cuddle when she has a rough day and proudly declares she “loves [me] 2020!” …which apparently is more than all the way to the moon, or so she says.

  34. ImpostorMom

    I look at pictures of mine from his first year and I miss him as an itty bitty baby. But everyday I am amazed that I can have a conversation with this little person now. He’s got opinions and he can tell me about his day. And although there are certainly times when I long for the days before those opinions I can see the virtue in him getting older as well.

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