I started this blog when I was in the throes of baby/toddler crazyhood. In fact, I just went back to my original blogging platform (diaryland) and reread my first entry and I feel so sorry for myself.
My kids are a little over two years apart and those early days were utter madness. We planned on having kids relatively close in age because even then, I was aware that once my first one became independent, I would NEVER want to go back to having a baby. I did not want a glimpse of easier times just to fall right back into the quagmire of having a newborn/baby/toddler. I wanted the crazy done and over with. Those days of having two mobile, yet completely unreasonable beings who required constant monitoring and care to handle all day comprise the stuff that makes me want to claw my eyes out and honestly, it makes my heart get poundy even thinking about it now. I’m not sure if this specific brand of bitterness is relegated to only me but I can tell you that while I enjoyed the time I had with them when they were little, I definitely, most assuredly, without a single, solitary doubt enjoy my kids a lot more now. I realize that I am in the glory days of child-rearing from so many perspectives. They are old enough to bathe, feed, clothe, wipe, and control themselves but are not old enough to understand that parental authority is a conspiracy that we brainwash them into. I mean, sure, they were adorable and funny and generally easy (in hindsight) when they were little but…I don’t know. I think it was the relentlessness of ANY child at those young ages. They require almost constant attention and monitoring and I think I prefer children who can sustain healthy/undamaged life without immediate and constant death/injury defying parental involvement. I remember being so relieved when it was nap time because I could be alone in my own head. I could do what I wanted to do without having to convince a toddler that I really WAS looking and being an active part of the play because, see, Dora is taking a nap after her adventure through the Cocoa Mountains with Boots. I remember gritting my teeth and reminding myself that I would regret not playing blocks with them. But, you know what? I DO NOT regret it at all. I do not regret the times I did not sit down and play with my kids. In fact, I think if I hadn’t taken those (frequent and sometimes lengthy) breaks from them, I would regret my reactions to their constant demands. I always thought I wanted a house full of kids. I always thought toddlers and babies were the epitomy of childhood perfection. But the reality is that while I treasure the memories of my kids when they were that little, I would not want to go back and relive them. Sure, I’d like to visit the cutest, sweetest moments of my choosing and cuddle those adorable little chubby-legged cherubs but then I’d like to immediately return to my big kids who can reason, discuss, make sandwiches, clean, help, and wipe.
I’m not really sure why I’m bringing this up now. I guess because being at home with them right now (during our summer break from teaching/attending school) is a weird cosmic echo from those feelings of suffocation, frustration, and jaw-grinding guilt over my lack of patience and lack of desire/ability to enjoy and be in the moment with my kids. I have always been the type of person who begrudgingly gives up my concentration or task. Even now, as I am typing this, the kids have tumbled into this very room peppering me with questions, needs, and demands after basically ignoring me for the last hour and a half. You know the last hour and a half where I was piddling around, doing nothing, engaged in nothing, willing and happy to be interrupted a billion times to answer inane questions, listen to sometimes irrelevant thoughts, watch impromptu performances, and to mediate situations. I feel myself getting a little resentful that they are Requiring Things of me Right This Very Instant When I Am Trying to Do Something. Maybe I truly am a pretty selfish person who only wants to be involved when it is convenient for me or maybe I’m completely normal. But I do know that now I have the luxury of saying, “Seriously? As SOON as I sit down to do something?” in that sarcastic/teasing tone that they adore/recognize. I can suggest activities (“Anything NOT here and NOT requiring my attention.”). Or I can use the most beloved sanity saver of all time, “Go outside.”
None of those are an option when you have littles. They still cling to your leg and cry. (And yes, my son has no pants on here. I have no idea why other than….well…nope, I’ve got nothing.)
And you still feel guilty for just wanting to pry your daughter’s adorably dimpled arms off your leg and plop her in her crib. So you don’t. You pick her up and comfort her and as soon as you put her down, she immediately starts crying again. So you pick her up and coo at her for ten minutes until she’s content and you put her down to try to pay bills and she immediately starts wailing again. And this cycle repeats to infinity until you want to Move To Australia Without The Kids. And you’re sitting there, planning your stowed/carry-on luggage when The Guilt comes. You know The Guilt that comes in the form of one of those damn memes. The ones that talk about a child begging for his Mom’s attention while his Mom is too busy on her iphone. Or how, on your death bed, you’ll regret every single moment you did not spend having nothing but feelings of patience, love, tenderness, etc toward your child. Or how there’s a Mom who lost her child and her only wish is to let every other parent know how they should hold/cuddle their children because you never know what will happen.
I hate those things in a way that makes my head dizzy. Because half the time, I was taking my kid to the park because I spent ALL DAMN MORNING (from 5:30 am on) playing CandyLand until I thought my head would explode and disengaging with him while he has an entire playground to entertain himself with is a much better option than chucking the Princess Ice Cream card into the garbage disposal and laughing maniacally. And there will be plenty of things I regret on my death bed and while most assuredly, everyone will regret not spending more time, love, and attention on their loved ones, unless I want my death bed to arrive that very day due to a stroke, I am going to have to walk away from the crying toddler and regain some sanity and wait for the blood pressure in my head to reach a non-emergency level. And GOD FORBID, let’s not go there with the whole, you could lose your baby thing because that’s neither fair nor appropriate and if we all seriously lived our lives like it is our last moments with our babies, we would never, like, go to work, or take vacations, or have a date night, or engage with friends, or sleep, or other things we have to do and should do.
And so I guess what my point here is that I feel like I have a better perspective on my kids now than I did then. Maybe that’s why I like this stage of my kids’ life more. Maybe it has nothing to do with the grind but everything to do with being more comfortable in my own skin as a parent. Maybe because I realize that the memes have it right in that it goes by so quickly. Maybe it’s the simple fact that I sleep more now and don’t have to wipe anyone’s butt crack. But without a doubt there are so many things that are easier now. They’re able to do more without my hovering over them making sure they don’t brain/choke/impale themselves or their sibling. I am able to send them off to get their own breakfast and pretend to go back to sleep. I can discuss with them how I need a few minutes to myself and they are capable of giving me that. Let’s be honest, not that they always choose to do so but they are capable. It goes without saying that there are many things that are harder (or rather just a new brand of difficult) about their current stages.
You know, on second thought, I would like to pick the moments I could go back and relive and they would be comprised of equal parts dimpled elbows/soft snuggles and times like the above. Because that’s actually what it was like and while that wasn’t my favorite time in their lives so far, I love them and treasure them. And I would go back, give the myself of that moment a break to take a nap/write a blog/gain some perspective, and take a few moments to calm/cuddle/rock/soothe that very angry baby. Because I swear, before you know it, that very angry, unhappy baby changes into something new, different, awesome, HUGE and grown and not as prone to crying. And I’m doing everything I can to soak this up because I’m pretty sure in a few years, she will start crying and tantruming again.