It hit me like a pie in the face yesterday. That in a few weeks, Liv will be two. Yes, it makes me sad and nostalgic, I miss the newborn stage like crazy (seriously, I yearn for it) and I look back at photos like this almost daily.
I miss that bald baby noggin and little elf ears and feel like I could cry.
That's not what this is about. It's not about my deeply seeded fear of adding another baby to the mix either. That's another neurotic story for another day.
Lately I've been thinking about what I learned these past two years. Who I turned into, what we've done. What I know.
This is not a parenting advice post. I'm a parenting novice and will be for some time, so please don't take this as educational in any way. This is just me rambling at you. Like always.
Let me just preface this by saying that I was a much better parent before I had Olivia. We're talking way better. I'm not saying I'm a bad parent now, I'm just saying that holy cow, things sure happened differently than I planned them. Imagine.
So here's what I know.
1. I feel guilty every day.
I shouldn't have raised my voice, given her that third Oreo, that extra few minutes (ahem, hour) of tv time. I should have been more present, engaged, more fun, less tired.
A stranger at the grocery store picked up a little toy she'd dropped out of the cart and handed it back to her the other day. Then he apologized and said that he was sorry, I probably didn't want her putting that in her mouth now that it had been on the floor. Without blinking, I said that it was probably the least germ ridden thing she'd put in her mouth all day. There I was. No cart cover, no hand sanitizer in my purse. Just a full pack of Target brand baby wipes in case she managed to get the top off her milk.
Those are the not the qualities you hear when someone describes a good/prepared/preventive/blog worthy parent.
For all the "I shouldn'ts", though, there are nearly as many redeeming moments. I pat myself on the back because she ate an apple, said please, or for not flipping out when she dunked a whole roll of toilet paper (the last one in the whole house) in the toilet, and instead congratulated her on (attempting) to flush the potty herself.
She's since mastered that particular task in case you were wondering.
2. I think I have a split mom personality.
One minute, I'm cool as a cucumber while she attempts to swan dive out of the grocery cart, and literally 5 seconds later I'm taking deep breaths in the canned vegetable aisle because she's managed to open and dump a box of pasta on the floor and I'm afraid I'm going to lose my shit and end up on YouTube courtesy of some childless person with an iPhone.
3. I've got it pretty easy.
I've just got one. Just one. Not that she isn't a handful (what kid isn't?), but the one to one ratio is something I appreciate daily. This ties into my second child phobia, but again, that's a whole other bag of crazy. I periodically have to check myself with a swift metaphorical kick in the butt and tell myself to stop my whining because my two year old isn't cooperating with my desire to leisurely stroll through Target, venti latte in hand at 10 am on a Wednesday.
4. Each age is the hardest (for me).
First they don't sleep when you want to sleep and you're afraid you'll break them. Then they're mobile and everything within arms reach becomes a choking hazard and the explosive diapers will.not.stop. Then they get some serious independence and will literally elbow you in the throat should you try to impose your will on them.
People always say it will get easier, but for me, each stage just eventually becomes the new normal. I get used to it and then think I was a total whiner for complaining at all about the stage before. Spoiler alert: I am.
5. I need mom friends (and my mom) more than mascara.
I love my mom friends, and my mother has been my lifeline to sanity (the dramatics are really kicked up a notch around here today) many times. Having someone who gets it, or will tell you that you're doing a good job, and will occasionally coddle your maternal ego helps so much (for me).
I also like having someone tell me that it's ok to put your kid to bed at 6:30, that a banana peel is far from the strangest thing they've seen thrown in a toilet, or that their kid also growls at random people at the post office, where the line moves slower than molasses.
6. Sometimes being a mom isn't enough.
I don't know if I'm treading into unpopular territory here, but before I had a baby I was convinced that if I could be someone's mother, I wouldn't want to do anything else for the rest of my life. Being a stay at home mom would be living the dream. It just didn't shake out that way and it made me feel guilty before I realized it was ok.
I have to have something that's mine, that challenges me and excites me. It makes me a better mom and I mean that. When I get to take a little time for my personal endeavors, I do a better job with all the things I listed back at number 1. I'm more present, I'm more patient. I'm not perfect, puh-leeze, but it helps and there's a 75% chance I'll just laugh when she refuses to pee on the potty and just bolts into my closet and pees on the floor.
7. No matter how bad the day, how much I've failed, she's antagonized, and we've both melted down, I miss her when she goes to sleep. I still go in and place my hand on her chest to feel it rise and fall. I find myself realizing that I'll be sad when the day is over, despite having been counting down the minute until bedtime.
When she was 8 days old (in this photo below), I cried most of the day (and night) because my hormonal self was realizing that she'd never be that small again. That every day, she would get further and further from the tiny baby who changed our lives on a warm December afternoon.
Now every day I realize that I'm getting further and further from the parent I thought I'd be and I'm more ok with it each day. I think we're going to be going through phases, getting to know each other, testing each other, and loving each other at the end of each day, for the rest of our lives, and that's just motherhood. For me, it's not like I just found my mama groove and stuck with it (Pinterest lied to me). It's a daily adjustment, evolution, and my list of things that I know is constantly changing.
I know this was a heavy ramble, so kudos to you if you made it this far. I can't promise not to get all weepy when she does turn two, but I promise to try to keep my blubber off the blog as much as possible. It's strange to see her get older, but when she runs towards the microwave because she saw me take the frozen french toast out (high meal standards here) and says "IIII doooo eeeet", it's hard to begrudge her getting older.