Long before I became a mommy, I promised myself I wouldn’t count my babies ages in months. At least not past the year and a half mark. For the most part, I have held true to this. When I get asked by people in the grocery store how old he is I usually respond with, “Just over a year and a half,” and if they seem to want more info, I’ll give it to them in months.
But today my little munchkin turns twenty months, and suddenly it seems like we have topped the hill of a roller coaster, and are about to careen down a terrifying free fall that ends (or maybe really only begins) with the terrible twos.
In large part this sense of foreboding comes from the fact that he has already begun to assert his very independent self. He has yet to mention the word “yes” but has “no” down pat. Gone are the days he would willingly come when it was time to get his shoes on, because of course, it’s more fun to have mama chase you around the house and catch you in the corner before you sit down to do that. He used to eat everything and anything offered to him at mealtimes, but now, absolutely everything must be doused in mustard or salsa. Once upon a time he would sit calmly in my lap and build megablocks. Now he shoves them all into a pile and drives his car through at startling speeds, yelling “BEEP, BEEP” at the top of his lungs.
My sweet, innocent, angelic (looking) boy will look me straight in the eye, say “No!” and then shove his toothbrush in the toilet.
Another big part of the free fall has to do with the other little munchkin growing inside my womb. Just after the Wee One turns two this summer, our Little Babe will join the family.
I’m quite a bit more freaked out about having a baby this time around, to be honest. Which is not saying much because I really wasn’t freaked out before Mateo was born. As a labour nurse, I pretty much knew what to expect in that department, and as an auntie, and fairly well rounded person, I felt I had a firm grasp on what was ahead of me.
Boy was I wrong.
Now, I maintain to this day that I was not naive about having a baby. I knew it was going to be crazy hard. But understanding on a theoretical level, and experiencing it for yourself, are two very different things. I understood that babies eat every two to three hours, and that would mean very little sleep. I recall very clearly looking at my sister one day, a few months after my niece was born, and being downright frightened by her appearance. She was just sitting on a chair staring at the floor, and…well…she looked a little like a corpse. It only lasted for a moment, before she smiled and got some colour back into her face, but it was scary. So, I felt like I knew that sleep deprivation was going to be tough.
But, oh, until you experience what it means to get no more than 2 hours of sleep at a time (or less!!) for months on end, you can’t really understand what it is going to do to your mind, body and soul. I became a very weepy, fairly unhinged version of myself.
This was true for me for a lot of aspects of being a mommy. I was not one of those people that seem to be born to be a mom. Some women bounce back from having a baby in no time. It’s a matter of days before they are running around, doing errands, stopping to breastfeed with no problem at all, anywhere at all, and all while looking good in their trendy yoga gear. But that was not me. I will heartily admit that becoming a mama was a hard transition for me. Not sleeping was hard. Breastfeeding was hard. Knowing what to do when ANYTHING happened with the baby was hard. In the early months I remember looking at my beautiful boy and thinking, “Ok, so what should I do with you now? Am I supposed to be playing with you? Are you too young for that? Should I be stimulating you some how, or maybe I should just let you look around the room on your own for a bit. Hmmmm…what should I do with myself then? I probably shouldn’t leave you on your own, so whatever I do has to be in the living room…”
I watched a lot of Netflix.
Thankfully, I had some key women in my life who happily shared their not so easy mommy transitions with me. I am so grateful that they did, because it made me feel normal. I needed to know I wasn’t the only one struggling. I needed to know that just because it was hard for me, that didn’t make me less of a mom.
I also had a fantastic Hubs, who lived up to every one of our marriage vows in those days by loving the crazy, bleary eyed, exclusively pijama-wearing monster that took over his wife’s body.
Those days were hard, but there was also so much joy, and love and peace. Tracing the lines on the soles of his feet, basking in the light of his first smile, feeling the beat of his heart against my chest as he slept, hearing him discover his voice. Those moments will forever be etched on my heart, and bring tears of happiness to my eyes when I recall them.
And so I hope, as we stare down the track of this roller coaster we are on, that I will be able to soak those precious moments in, even as we juggle life with two.