July 29: Just the Baby and I

She ate all the red and blue M&M's first. Weird, I know. She also takes the caps off of every single marker we own and puts them on her fingers like hard, plastic, colorful olives. 

The phone rang. It was Daddy.

As I watched her cook with her Play-doh at the kitchen table, I answered and said, "it's just the baby and I at home, and we miss you!"

The other kids were with grandma for the day, and the house was quiet. Without the regular whirl of activity, it was easy to discern the sounds of toddler chatter, clanging legos, and tiny feet running across the hardwood floor. Suddenly, it was like I stepped back in time to when I was a new mom, chasing a toddler around the house all day.

You're always one step behind them as you follow them around, just in time to clean up whatever they disasterized but not quite quick enough to stop them from making the mess in the first place. The clothes you spent your morning folding are now on the floor, and they've moved on to "unloading the dishwasher," i.e., putting the clean dishes back in the sink.

And although the house is filled with endless chatter, playing, learning and joy, it can be a very lonely job at times. It's hard when your only human connection during the day is two feet tall and speaks mostly gibberish. And I'm happy that I know now what I didn't back then--it's okay to take some time for you. It's actually a good thing and a necessary thing to preserve your sanity and your identity. Otherwise you can become a shell of who you once were, completely engulfed and swallowed up by the incessant needs and demands of motherhood.

I'm also finally to the place where, although part of me is still sad that the baby years are almost over, the other, larger half of me is so very glad that things like diapers and terrible twos and potty training will come to an end in the relatively near future. That I can finally see the horizon. Thank God I won't have to carry a diaper bag around for the rest of my life. Because I think if I had to deal with diapers and poop and pottys for the next twenty years, I just may loose my mind. Many, many kudos to you day care workers and nannies. There will be a special place for you in heaven among the saints. I'm sure of it.

So if I could offer some encouragement to all the young moms who are in the thick of it, who are running on coffee and no sleep and are busy all the live long day but have nothing tangible to show for it except a beautiful little baby who is clothed and fed and still breathing:

Hang in there!! You're doing a good job!

It does get better! They do eventually speak more then just gibberish and learn how to fold laundry. But they still throw the clean clothes out of their drawers and all over their room when they get dressed. Or undressed. Sorry to burst your bubble on that one. They will learn how to use the toilet. They will have thoughts and ideas and dreams of their own, and you get the privilege of watching them develop into unique human beings right before your very eyes.

Hang in there. It's worth it. I promise.