We passed the six month mark as a family of four last week (happy half birthday Alice!). And while we’re far from having this whole parents of two young kids thing figured out, I thought I’d share a few observations from our experience so far – continuing the theme of some of the wonderful guest posts during my maternity leave with Alice.
Photos by Vicki Grafton Photography – taken last summer just a couple of weeks before Alice was born!
1. Motherhood is bittersweet. I love watching my babies grow and develop new skills, but I never realized just how sad I would be as they grew out of each stage. Even stages that I’m not the biggest fan of, like the newborn stage. Before I had children I’d hear other mothers say that they wish they could freeze their child just as they are now, but I never really understood until I had my own children. With each passing month I think, “oh, they’ll never be that small ever again.” I tear up just a bit each time I pull too-small clothes out of their closet. It’s such an amazing thing to watch them get bigger and become their own little person, but I do also mourn the loss of their babyhoods just a little wee bit.
2. Babies are funny! I always assumed that it would be a while before my children developed little personalities, but they showed up almost right away! Every child is different, but both of my children have a robust sense of humor. Alice makes the funniest little hooting sounds and kicks her feet together when she’s excited about something, and Sophie has the most impeccable comedic timing I’ve ever seen in a child – and has ever since she was a tiny baby. I always knew I’d love my children, but I never knew how much they’d make me laugh from such an early age.
3. Everything is a phase. This has become my motherhood mantra – repeated particularly frequently during the first few months when I’m convinced I’ll never sleep ever again and then again later when dealing with toddler antics. When Sophie was a baby we could almost always tie particularly fussy (or sleepless) weeks to a regression or teething, but I always felt reassured if I reminded myself that whatever was bothering her would soon pass. Alice has (thankfully) been a super easygoing baby, but there have been weeks when she refuses to nap longer than 30 minutes or wakes up every hour at night. And even though we’ve been down this road once before, I often need to remind myself that the tough stretches are just a phase to make it through a particularly rough week.
4. There’s a ton of detective/guesswork! If you grew up with lots of babies around, this one won’t come as a surprise. But I had almost zero experience with babies until I had my own children, and I was definitely taken aback by the amount of guesswork involved. From the fussy newborn stage – tummy trouble? dirty diaper? random hair wrapped around a little toe? – to diagnosing colds and viruses in older babies. It gets a little easier once they can talk and tell you what’s wrong with them, but I still find myself saying “Well, maybe it’s this…” or “Well, it could be that…” – a lot.
5. Parenting doesn’t get easier, just different. Everyone talks about how hard the first couple of months are – round the clock feedings, diaper changes, sleepless nights, etc. – but I don’t hear as much about the later months (and years). There are a couple of nice months after the newborn stage when your baby is sleeping longer stretches, but then they start crawling and moving, which presents a whole new set of challenges! And once they become toddlers? Yeah, that’s a different set of challenges, too. I don’t even want to think about the tween and teen years! Don’t get me wrong, it gets better with each passing stage – but I just don’t think it necessarily gets easier. Parenting is a marathon, but luckily it’s filled with lots of love, laughter, and sweet moments.
Also, you know you’re a parent when a quick errand to the grocery store (alone) suddenly feels like a luxury. Or fifteen minutes to take a shower.
Photo Credits: Vicki Grafton Photography