Friday, November 8, 2013
A speck on a mile-long string.
This is to all the moms out there who are stuck at home with your babies. You know who you are.
I must first start by admitting I am an impatient person. I want results and I want them now. I don't like waiting for things to happen. I am always wishing for the next phase in life. I'm not content with stagnation. I hate lines, especially lines at the drive-thru because aren't these things supposed to be QUICK?
Yep, I'm just impatient. No getting around it.
And I'm especially impatient with early childhood. Another confession: I'm not really a fan of the baby-to-toddler stage of raising kids. Don't get me wrong, I love my children. I find them adorable the second they exit the womb. I love watching them learn and grow, reaching little milestones and picking up skills they didn't have the day before. But that period of time from the moment they are born until they are about 3 or 4 years old is extremely taxing for me. It requires a lot of the exact virtue I possess very little of -- patience.
I'm in an awesome place as a parent right now. My two kids are pretty self-sufficient. I don't have to carry a diaper bag anymore because they're both potty-trained and don't require as much entertainment or snacks when we go out. They can both walk just fine (though one struggles to stay close -- I'll give you two guesses as to whom) so we don't use a stroller. They play well with friends, they don't wander off or put strange objects in their mouths, they can sit through a movie, they're cooperative in stores and most importantly of all, they can TALK! In real sentences! So I don't have to interpret what they want or need based on a cry or tantrum. They just tell me. With their words. It's a miracle.
But now, I'm pregnant. So in less than 6 months, I'll be back to square one. That diaper bag I abandoned when Carson was FINALLY! potty-trained? It's coming back. That enormous stroller I loathe pushing through stores at the mall? Welcome home. And the worst part -- the weighs-a-literal-ton INFANT CARRIER I will have to lug around? Surprise! It's making a reappearance in the Foote household. Along with highchair, bouncer, Exersaucer, activity table and baby gates on the stairs.
And we have yet to scratch the surface on diapers, sleepless nights, breast pads, baby soap, pacifiers, bibs and all the other fabulous accoutrements of babyhood. Not to mention the endless inconsolable crying, the explosive poop, the barf-on-the-shoulder, the hair-pulling, the crawling around, putting everything you find straight in your mouth ... the list goes on.
(Clearly, this has been on my mind. Can you tell?)
If you lack patience the way I do, this phase of life feels eternal. It seems to have no end. The days tick by so slowly. You look at the clock thinking your Knight in Shining Armor (aka husband) will be walking in the door at any minute to find it's only 1:15 in the afternoon. Your baby needs to eat ... again. You seriously JUST put him down for a nap and have finished wiping down exactly one bathroom counter and guess what? He's awake. And poopy. And hungry. And that's a blessing in comparison to most days, when the neighbor's barking dog or a late garbage truck rouses him from that precious nap prematurely. WAY TOO PREMATURELY. And in the meantime, you feel kind of stuck. Do you get all fancy just to lug all the baby's cargo and accessories around for a few tear-filled minutes at Target, or do you just camp out at home? I'm sure you've guessed that I usually settle for the latter. And I bet you usually do, too.
Here's the thing, though: This phase I despise? It's not eternal. It's actually pretty short. A speck on a mile-long string in comparison to the rest of your life. If you're on that speck right now, you are doubting me. Hard. You want me to wither up and die for even suggesting "this too shall pass." Well, guess what, honey? I've been where you are. Twice. And I'm about to do it again. So yes, I do know what I'm talking about. Full-well.
Sorry, I got a little diva-snap-preachy there. Let me put on my kind old lady sympathizer hat. Better?
The kids do grow up. Heck, mine are still really little in the grand scheme of things. But they eventually stop crying and start talking. They eventually learn how to wipe their own butts and even spray the air freshener after they've flushed. They soon learn how to use a fork properly and will be able to eat un-mashed, solid human food. They won't need a highchair or a booster at the table. They will figure out how to put on their own shoes and jackets. They will tell you about their day in common English. If you play your cards right, they might even tell you they love you and give you a hug. I swear, it happens.
The impatient woman in me refuses to mourn the swift passage of time, but sometimes, I do acknowledge that it moves quickly. And yes, sometimes, I miss the days of raising a baby. Hard as it is, I do reminisce on those times with a bit of fondness in my heart. Sometimes. Because you know what? It's hard to force a preschooler to cuddle with you. But babies basically have no choice. And even though babies poop their own pants several times a day and regularly spew curdled milk down their shirts, they smell a lot better than a kid who spent a few hours playing in sand at the park, sweating up a storm. And they also do whatever you tell them to because they don't have the physical capacity nor the desire to disobey. So there are some perks.
If your days feel endless and you're growing weary of babyhood, chin up. Time (mercifully) marches on. It won't be long before you're putting the crib away and donating the baby clothes to an expectant friend or family member. In the meantime, feel free to cry on those hard days. Feel free to vent your frustrations once in a while. I'm happy to listen and vent right back, and I bet there are are other people in your life who would happily do the same.
But remember this above all else: you have nothing to prove to anyone. People might judge you if it's your 168th consecutive day in yoga pants, but who cares? There will be plenty of time for jeans and high heels down the road. Just survive for now, and savor your small triumphs. Your baby slept through the night? Holler about it on Facebook! If we're friends, I'll even "like" it. Instagram the heck out of your cute baby. And take time for yourself. You need to recharge more than you think. Just because you're at home all day doesn't mean you aren't exhausting your energy reserves. When your husband gets home, take yourself out for a donut or something. Lock yourself in a room with a good book. He can handle things just fine.
Remember who you are. Have fun. Laugh at the craziness that is motherhood. Do what you can and don't stress about what you can't do.
Oh look -- I think I see the end of the speck. You're almost there. Keep it up, mama. You're awesome.