People rush to help when babies are born. Well-meaning people brought me things like casseroles and offers to babysit and all the receiving blankets I could handle. “Mom needs her rest!” they said, eager to hold my new baby. But if we’re being honest here, a baby who slept 18-hours a day wasn’t what kept me from all that rest I supposedly needed. The parade of people I hadn’t seen in ten years, did.
Where are they now that I’m drowning in a sea of a toddler and teenager?
Where’s all that help when my 18-month-old performs alligator rolls during diaper changes and finishes with a swift kick to the chin?
Infancy was a cakewalk. I could usually find the baby where I left him. Now, he’s mobile and learning new escapes every day. Yesterday, it was the gate latch. He was halfway up the drive before I caught up to him. Though, I can’t blame him for trying to leave. He’s the third child and I’m still an amateur.
My husband is sharpening his survival skills too. Cooked meals are a rarity these days and he knows that “Let’s put something on the grill for dinner,” really means he’s cooking and I have no plan. Where are my casseroles now? No one brings a seasoned mom a casserole. Not even when I’ve spent hours in the car shuttling to-and-from band, softball, 4-H Club, track, doctor appointments or work.
My husband bought two gallons of ice cream then told our eldest to write “kids” with a sharpie on the outside of one carton so one would be reserved for adults only. Then, when the kids left the room he served himself a bowl from the kid’s carton. Dad will always have ice cream. This is why he is my husband.
I get the cliché “bigger kids, bigger problems.” Toddlers are trying, but sometimes it’s easier to literally get pooped on. That doesn’t hurt on the inside and it’s easily cleaned up. What’s been soiled by a toddler can be tossed out and forgotten.
There are no greeting cards for the decade when everything’s my fault and the kids have the vocabulary to tell me exactly how I’ve failed them. If such cards existed they’d read, “Hang in there, the end is near.” Empty nesters like to say “You’ll miss them when they’re gone.” I don’t have to wait until they’re gone. I miss them now.
I miss the innocence of them and the good times we had fighting about oral hygiene and bed time. The toddler reminds me that the older ones are still my babies too.
I find camaraderie in coffee dates, texting with besties who live too far away and also in the nice neighbors who avert their eyes when I carry the recycle bin full of wine bottles to the curb.
Cheers, new moms – you’ll miss those babies one day.