I was five months pregnant, had locked myself in the bathroom, and was sobbing uncontrollably. My husband was beginning to understand the crazy nature of his pregnant wife and knew better than to come to the door and engage me. My howl was the universal cry of mothers-to-be. Everyone was stupid, and no one understood. Months before (in a more sane mental state), I’d talked about working one short afternoon shift a week after our first baby was born. I loved the idea of holding onto a job I enjoyed, making a little cash, and giving my husband the opportunity for quality time with his son. Then, one day, I quite simply, lost my ever-loving mind.
How could I even think of leaving my baby?!? Did my husband even want me to bond with him?
It was awful. The casual discussion at a Friday dinner out turned to tears. The tears became shouting back at home. The shouting led to putting myself in solitary confinement. And now, more than five years later, I sit typing over the din of cartoons and just have to laugh at my old self. The howl of the pregnant woman has morphed into the maniacal cackle of the preschool/kinder mom.
As lovely and delicious as my baby son and daughter were, I do not miss that stage. They were recorded as the actual cutest babies in the history of ever. I have the stack of Shutterfly books to prove it. And, as far as dispositions, they were fairly easy babies. We saw what we thought might have been minor colic with our son. But, overall, we didn’t suffer from hours of crying jags. The baby phase was, in fact, a magical time in our household. And I wouldn’t go back to that time if you bribed me with a daily house-cleaner or bought me one of those sweet she-sheds for my backyard. (Do yourself a favor and look up “she-shed,” ladies. One can dream . . . .)
In the grand scheme of things, I understand that having a five year old and a three yea old is not that far removed from the baby stage. We are closer to the former years of infants than we are to junior high or driver’s ed. But, oh, the taste of self-sufficiency that has recently surfaced in our home! Children here wake up and play quietly in their rooms until it’s time to get ready for school. (With a little help from a nifty traffic light alarm clock, courtesy of Amazon. Green means you can get up. Red means stay put!) My poor children will surely relay my infamous, Friday night pep talk to their therapist one day. “What is tomorrow? Saturday! Are you allowed out of your room until I get you? Nooooo. Even if the green light comes on, you stay put. Sweet dreams!” If that’s the worst I’m dealing with, I’ll take it. I did my fair share of night feedings and sleep-training. While my babies and I had plenty of special moments by the light of the moon, I’m thrilled not to see that time of night (or early morning) anymore.
There are many moms who relish being needed by their tiny ones. And, while I do still hear, “Mommy can you get me?” I must say there is great satisfaction in replying, “No. I love you, but you’re big enough to get it yourself.” I have arrived! Thanks to my bestie, Pinterest, I have devised a kids snack drawer for the fridge and pantry. Handy plastic Ikea dishware is placed on a shelf at eye-level for my little people. Food and water is at their disposal.
After offering breasts, bottles, and baby food, I am Maria dancing along the Alps as my five year old makes himself a PB&J.
And having a younger sibling follow her older brother makes my job even easier. If he can do it, she can, too! Fly, little birds!
While my absolute least favorite thing in this world is potty training, coming out on the other side is mighty fantastic. Bye, diapers! No longer am I hunched over a changing table like Gollum every one to three hours. My days now consist of searching for signs of the potty dance and directing the respective child to the nearest bathroom. Is it all clean and tidy? ‘Course not! I have a boy. Last week he accidentally peed on the new puppy while enjoying a backyard bathroom break. And, hello! I have a girl. Today required a wardrobe change when I noticed her dress was wet from hanging in the toilet. We obviously have work to do, but I’m diaper-free! Cash-wise and smell-wise, this is a big plus in my book.
Nothing was more stressful to me than a baby’s cries that couldn’t be deciphered. I’m an action gal. I like to spot the problem, solve it, and move on. When my babies were sick, I didn’t always catch on right away. If they were going through a transitional stage and I was a bit clueless, it was hard for me to accept. Mere baby tears help me zero. I so appreciate my child telling me his or her ear hurts or he or she would rather not sleep with a night light. I feel like I was holding my breath and hoping that my guesses and mom-intuitions were correct. I can breathe now! The kids tell me actual things! Is there a downside? Duh. While changing into pajamas, my daughter informed me that my bottom was “preeeetty big.” There are times my tiny truth-tellers could stand to lock it up. But, on the whole, I feel like a better mom when my kids can lay it out there for me. Help me to help you!
I realize my revelation about having bigger kids isn’t shared by everyone. But, it’s where I’ve found my stride, and I am thoroughly enjoying life as a mom. What’s your favorite stage?