Year 1.

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It’s been a year. How the hell has it been a year?

It’s all a blur really. I don’t remember a time she wasn’t here. With each new phase she grows and thrives and does amazing new things, and it’s as if she could always do them.

Once, she was nothing more than a lump. Then she was a lump who could bat at a toy. Soon she could hold her head up on her tummy, then sit, and roll, and stand. Next she was a baby who had teeth, and then seven. She started making deliberate sounds. She started being deliberately disobedient. She eats with her hands in a way that appears she’s always known how to do it, yet just a few short months ago I was feeding her breastmilk on a spoon. She has opinions. She has comedic timing. She shows love, she shows fear, she shows anger. She’s endlessly curious. She’s physically strong, and energetic. She’s a baby, but more days than not, she is now a kid.

If I had a time machine, I’d go back to those early days. I’d get my do-over. I’d let myself relish the overwhelming joy I felt, and go through it all from a place of wisdom and zen. I’d be able to focus on the amazingness of a new human without all the panic and anxiety that comes from not having a clue what you’re doing. And though I can’t tell you the details of anything during that time, and can’t even remember the specific way something felt, good or bad, I feel wiser now.

 In no particular order, these are the things I’ve learned this year.
    1. You don’t always have to react. I spent so much time agonizing over the right thing to do – and inevitably whatever was happening would work itself out. Panicking does not help it improve faster.
    2. Find your village and don’t look back for the people who chose not to be there for you.
    3. Even when you find your kid to be the most amazing creature on earth and are offended when other people don’t seem to get that, you’ll still find other people’s kids annoying.
    4. No one’s baby sleeps. Babies are jerks.
    5. Breastfeeding is way harder than anyone will ever tell you. There’s nothing to prepare you for the scabs and blood and biting and tongue ties and poor latch and a sleepy baby who doesn’t want to eat and the internal battle you’ll have with yourself when you want to give up but can’t let go. It will destroy the confidence you thought you had.
    6. No matter how hard you want to be a French Mother, you will still end up with a kid who only eats bananas. I’m not ready to admit it is ok, but I may be ready to admit defeat.
    7. This really is the longest shortest time. Obsess over it. Treasure it. You don’t get it back.
    8. Each time your baby moves on to a new stage, it is both delightful and heartbreaking.
    9. When you’re sleeping upright on the couch with a baby on your chest you’ll never imagine that you’ll miss that moment. You will.
    10. Loving something this much is the best and the scariest thing in the world.

An Open Letter to Parents of the World

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/
Photo by Joe Shlabotnik on Flickr

Dear Parents,

Your job is hard.  I know that you know it is hard, but I’m not sure everyone else does so I thought I’d take this opportunity to acknowledge you.

You see, as far as people without kids go, I’m pretty familiar with The Short Ones.  I was a babysitter. I was a nanny. I am an aunt.  I have no problem dishing out discipline, playing Mouse Trap or yelling back to Dora on TV when she asks me a question.  So when I agreed to stay with kids for 7 whole days while their parents took a much-needed vacation I was nervous, but I felt pretty well prepared.

But holy crap, living with kids is hard!

If it were simply about time-outs and playtime I’d be fine.  But I had no idea that my pretend parenting would make me yearn for a quiet room so badly.

Like many real parents, I picked the kids up at 5 and brought them home.

Little People: “When are we having dinner?”

Me: “Umm, maybe after I’ve taken my shoes off?”

Little People: “What’s for dinner? Can we have tomato soup? No, pizza? No, chicken? Candy, cereal, sandwiches, spaghetti, {insert list of other foods that are unrelated, yet for some reason listed in the same breath by a child uninterested in an actual response}?”

Then there’s the eating, the dishes, and the lunch packing.  There’s the child who runs in yelling “she hit me” and another running the other direction yelling “he hit me first.”  There’s talking all the time.  There’s homework that I “should have remembered” and assignments that suddenly appear at 7:30 in the morning.

Mostly, there are just things I don’t think of when planning out a day that normally just consists of me.  Take this morning, for example:

I stirred a pot of soup with my left hand while eating toast with my right.  Why?  Because one kid only eats chicken noodle soup for lunch.  I didn’t account for that time in my schedule.  Then I went out to the garage to look for an ice scraper for the car. When I returned, both kids were sitting happily on the stairs waiting for me, but hadn’t thought to put their homework or lunches in their bags until I returned.  I didn’t account for that time (and neither did they because 5 year-olds don’t get time of course). There was hair to brush and lost mittens to find.  All of it was everyday stuff that I hadn’t considered.

To be clear, the kids have been pretty delightful so far. They’ve been really well-behaved, have limited the physical violence, and have helped me out a lot.  On Sunday I got to make paper ghosts and go trick-or-treating, both of which were tons of fun. And last night I sat on the floor putting a puzzle together instead of staring at my computer, and read a book  at bedtime (okay, it was a book about a talking train, but still…)

I look forward to kids one day. But for now I know that I’m not quite ready to give up silent mornings of coffee and Twitter, and lazy evenings of TV and beer (and likely Twitter).

So to all you parents out there holding it together: I’m in awe of you.  Even pretend-parenting is a tough gig.

Love,

Lizz