I was out last weekend with some girlfriends, and during a quick bathroom trip I realized number 4 on my list. That made me wonder about other “A-ha” moments in the life of a mom.
- How totally head-over-heels in love a smile/kiss/hug can make you. H has only recently learned to give hugs and kisses. Now you can ask for a hug or a kiss, and she’ll come over and offer you her little pursed lips or put those small, chubby arms around your neck. There is literally nothing better in the whole world at that moment. I imagine that the only thing that will top this is when she learns to say, “I love you.” I will probably cry. This quality is also what keeps me from tearing my hair out on some days.
- The unique brand of mother exhaustion. When they’re very small, you are no kidding physically exhausted from the walking and holding and bouncing at all hours of the day and night. Now I’m mostly just mentally exhausted. I have a pretty calm kid, but when she’s having an off day, it is downright painful sometimes. Car trips are the worst. We’ve gotten stuck in DC traffic a few times now, just she and I. She gets bored and throws her toy and burp cloth. I cannot always reach these items. If I can’t, she cries. And cries. A couple of times I have found myself yelling. Not really yelling at her, but just yelling to try to be heard over the craziness. I immediately feel terrible and fear that I have emotionally scarred her. Those are the times when no matter what the house looks like or what needs to be cleaned, you just collapse on the couch and watch the DVR. If I didn’t have great neighbors to talk to on a daily basis, I really don’t know what I’d do. Everyone needs a release valve, which brings me to my next two points.
- How odd it feels to get out of the car and have only a purse to carry. When I do get to leave the house alone, which I now do on Wednesdays (that’s Mommy’s sanity time), I always think I’ve forgotten something when I get out of the car. How can I have only one bag to carry? Where is everything else? Is there not a small, squirmy child and a stuffed animal to carry, with a diaper bag and a purse? No stroller to unfold? No carrier to strap on? You mean I just get to look cute with my nice bag and cool shades? Huh. Cool.
- How nice it is to pee all by yourself. So there I was, in the extremely chic bathroom of a groovy DC restaurant. I close the door, pull down my tights, and instinctively check to make sure my toddler is not touching something disgusting. Wait. There is no child! I am alone. I can pee and no one will knock on the door (we hope) or try to grab my panties or the toilet paper. When you’re a mom, your toddler is with you 98.5% of the time. That includes toilet time, both yours and hers. To have that whole little room to myself was to realize that I was truly out with adults, all by myself! This is important for everyone’s sanity.
- How quickly she’d grow. H is very nearly two. She is very much on the petite side, but she’s so much bigger than she was as a baby. I know this intellectually. Most of the time, however, I just see her current smallness and feel how well she fits in my arms. Then we visit with my neighbor’s six-month-old, and I realize just how far we’ve come. She walks; she talks; she helps get dressed; she can feed herself; she can follow simple commands. A toddler is light years ahead of a six-month-old. I try to remember Helen at six months, and I almost can’t. I look at the pictures of her—so small and sweet. But my life was so different then—what I was able to accomplish, how I was able to accomplish it. It makes me sad to think that her babyhood is over in seemingly the blink of an eye. But she is such a cool kid! Today we colored together, and she pointed out that the picture was an octopus. We learned how almost every animal has a tail, and she helped me pick up her toys before bed. And I still get to hold her and kiss her, even if she is a toddler. And I’ll keep doing it until she threatens to run away because I’m “ruining her life.” Then I’ll still do it anyway, but not when her friends are around.