Tuesday, November 10, 2009

You mean it gets worse?!?

It was one of those moments...I had the 25-pounder on my hip, a full blown wrestling match necessary to keep him from sliding down my side again and onto the floor, where he desperately wanted to reach the elevator alarm button.

Errands with a 15-month-old are not easy. No, let me correct that: errands with this 15-month-old are not easy. My first kid? I could go to the mall on Black Friday for 10 hours and he'd sit happily in the stroller the whole time.

Today was the second day in a row when I'd had to spend hours on my own with Aidan Kai while trying to accomplish something. Simple tasks such as buying a loaf of bread or dropping off a pair of glasses for repair become full blown tests of physical endurance and mental strength with this kid.

Yes, he's cute. Reeeeeeal cute. And funny. Reeeeeeal funny. But that baby who wailed the entire first four and a half months of his life? Still there.

So as I was standing there in the elevator, wondering how in the world women who don't work out can physically handle their toddlers when I thought surely I'd end the afternoon with either a broken back or a broken baby, a woman steps into the elevator with her teenage son. She looked serene. Her hair was brushed. She smiled at me. She made cooing sounds at Aidan Kai. That's when she points to her son and says wistfully: "Awwww, it's hard to believe he used to be that little." Another woman who had been standing behind me immediately piped in: "Yeah, they really do grow up so fast."

My response?

"Yeah, I hope so!"

It was my attempt at a bit of humor and a bit of honesty.

These two women with grown children did not think it was so funny. Or true, apparently.

"Oh, no, no, noooooo. Enjoy it. Trust us." They both nodded emphatically, nearly in unison.

At this point, the elevator door opens and as we all step out, the woman with the teenage son slows down enough to let him walk ahead. She turns back to me and conspiratorially whispers (complete with the hand over the mouth for dramatic emphasis): "You know how they say this is the best time?" She pauses and motions to Aidan. "It really is true." With that, she shuffles along to catch up with her son.

And I am left standing there, blinking. Discouraged.

You mean this is IT? This is where it peaks? Then I'm screwed, because most days, I'm not digging this part so much.

Look, I get it. I know I will look back and ooooh and ahhhh and nostalgically remember the days when my boys were babies. I already do that sometimes with Ben. I get that these days really will fly by in the grand scheme of things. I understand that they are only little for a very short time. I do know that. You realize it all the more when you've had one already grow up into a small boy, all scruffy and rough-and-tumble and occasionally stinky. So I do take time to inhale all that baby/Cheerios/milk/drool smell Aidan Kai manages to harbor in his neck and, amazingly, the very tippy top of his head. I do still make sure to take tons of pictures, so I never miss out on any lasting memories with the second child. I do try to keep in mind that this will be The Last Time In My Whole Life that I will see my child learn how to walk and say a new word and discover Mickey Mouse.

But I also think: it's gotta get easier. It's got to. Because, quite frankly, I can't do this much longer.

I often find myself fantasizing--we're talking full out theatrical production complete with narration going on in my head here--about when the boys will be old enough to be self-sufficient. No, I don't mean get jobs and move out. I don't want to fast forward that much. But an independent bath and butt wipe would be lovely. To be able to go to the beach, come home, and call out "Okay, everybody to the shower and then we're getting a pizza and a movie!" To be able to run an errand without lugging a wriggling, borderline-tantrumy sack of potatoes back and forth. To be able to unload a dishwasher without having to use one foot as a mid-air gate to keep the baby from climbing into it.

So, really, how bad do things get after this? Did that woman in the elevator know something I don't? Is this like when parents don't tell people who are thinking about having kids how tough it really is because a) they don't want to frighten them and b) misery loves company?

I've spoken to many women who tell me that they absolutely loooooved the baby stage. Sometimes I wonder if they really did, in fact, love it while they were in it, or, if maybe after the years have passed, they love the memories of it. Maybe once it's all over and you have grown kids running around, with their own set of issues and challenges, you just remember that fat wriggly cooing baby and wish for that simplicity. You block out the sleepless nights, the ear-splitting tantrums in the grocery store, the mashed peas thrown across the room. I read somewhere once that scientists have discovered that the brain tends to forget unpleasant memories. It's like a defense mechanism. I suppose if you couple that scientific logic with the everyday aches and pains of babyhood, it makes sense that we'd remember only the good.

The next time Aidan Kai is screeching, stiff-legged, refusing to sit down in the shopping cart, I will try and remember that woman with the teenager. I will try. And maybe, just maybe, one day I will walk into an elevator and see a struggling mom with her struggling baby and smile knowingly, maybe even long for the smell of Cheerios and drool. But I don't think I will tell her to "enjoy it." Because really, that's kind of unnecessary.


  1. oh yes..the wisdom. Perhaps, they do know something we don't. I do find myself missing those days when words were mispronounced in such a cute way, faces were always smiling as big as possible (instead of as 'cool' as possible-the nine yr old)

    At any rate, my opinion is that you should do exactly what your doing. Enjoying what you can, and being a normal human that gets worn out on hip kids(as in hanging on your hip), tantrums, snot, drool, crying and whining. Don't let them fool you. they were pissy moms in a department store trying to shop with little ones too. LOL

    Every phase has its drawbacks, but it's progressively good things too-I love that my six and nine year old can finally make their own breakfast, help with dishes, clean their own bathroom...but then I went and had another baby. LOL

  2. My mother constantly reminded me of how fast time flies and how every moment should be enjoyed, good AND bad. I hated that because in the early child-rearing years there were SOOO many days that were hard and frustrating and complicated..days that I felt wouldn't end fast enough!! The chaos, the conflict, the crying, the diapers, the mess!! UGH!! Those were moments that I was NOT enjoying at all!! But when all was quiet and calm, I did understand what she meant because there truly WERE (and thankfully still are) SOOOOO many more WONDERFUL moments, precious moments that, for me, made everything worthwhile.

    And yes, time DOES fly by, almost in a blink of an eye. Just look at my boys. Michael turns 21 in January and Brian (that little boy who clung to my hips and adored you dearly - still does btw) turns 16 next month, and is DRIVING!! (OMG!!)

    The climb was long and hard, and every year brought and continues to bring us new beginnings and new challenges with an occasional side of conflict and chaotic issues (girlfriends, sex, drugs, alcohol) some are easier to handle than others, but its all about adjusting and finding your common ground...remembering what it was like when you were their age...and allowing them to make their own choices (supporting the good ones and redirecting them with the bad ones) from early on. Its not harder, just different.

    So don't be so hard on yourself...you're doing fan-tabulously awesome with your life and your boys (Pablo included). I admire your strength and ability to hold on to your true "self" (something I struggled with for a very long time) and want you to know that we are ALL very blessed to have you in our lives. <3 XOXO

  3. No-one likes the day to day of mommy-dom; no matter what they say. Yes, I miss the little guy - but the tantrums, no sleep, diapers, etc? Not so much. Despite what those moms said; it does get easier. Much, much easier. But the trade-off is there are then bigger issues to deal with (girls, sex, drugs, DRIVING). Enjoy the time when you can - and realize that not all mommy-moments are wonderful and very, very soon your little guys will be bigger and independent.

  4. this made me laugh out loud:

    "Yeah, they really do grow up so fast."

    My response?

    "Yeah, I hope so!"

    I love your sass and candor. You would be so fun to have cocktails with!

  5. My husband and I always roll our eyes at the people who make the "just wait" comments. Those people are always out there and I guess it makes them feel better about their situation to be so negative about everyone elses. I recall living with Tim before we were married and people saying, "oh it might be all well and good now but JUST WAIT until you're married!" And then when I had a baby girl and I was so thrilled to have a girl and people would say, "Just wait until she's a teenager!". And then when I was trying desperately to get pregnant with #2 and people would say, "Oh, you THINK you want two, JUST WAIT, two is so much harder than one!" And now, as you write about, people are always telling me to just wait, until every stage, with that bitter, smirk. Makes me want to slap them across the face!

    I am so careful to never make these comments. Yes, every stage is hard but there everyone should be entitled to discover it on their own. I don't need anyone to tell me how miserable I'll be when I have a 15 year old girl who talks back to me and wears shirts too low and skirts too high! I'll see on my own!

    This was such an insightful post. Things that I think about all the time. I'm pretty sure we'll be enjoying every age (and hating every age too) and look back with fondness... and relief!

  6. Have another one. Then, #1 essentially moves out, #2 gets worse, and #3 is totally neglected, but you don't even have the strength to care anymore and somehow it gets easier because of that. Your house is a mess, your children are a mess, and you are a mess and the only thing that matters is that no one gets hit by a bus during the day and that you can find your way back to your bed before midnight each night. It's a way of life. I love it! Probably only because I've lost my will to live:)

  7. LMAO @ Jenny Masc & ParentingBydummies!

    Oh, how I can empathize with you. I'm still in awwww that you were able to at one point in time participate in shopping on Black Friday for hours with a child.

    I don't even take my kids to the grocery store for 10 mins. If the hubby isn't around the kiddies end up going by default but, it's policy in my home that I go shopping ALONE! If I am shopping for them I'll decide whether I want them there or not but, usually I'm by my lonesome! I have four children Ages, 13, 12, 9, and 1.

    Shopping is one of my rare times of solitude. It's sad that a trip to the grocery store is considered "Me Time" but, hey... I'll take what I can get!

  8. I am so proud of you for taking a 15 month old anywhere. There are times I don't want to take my 15 year old shopping.

    There are good and bad times to all the phases our kids go through. My "baby" is 15 and he is a doll right now. The other five were not necessarily dolls in teendom. Every child is unique as is every parent.

    Have fun and enjoy what you can!!

  9. I wasn't into the baby phase. I REALLY wasn't into the pre-six month baby phase, so I'm not sure what your elevator commentators were thinking. I have a four-year-old daughter and this is the best time ever! I think there is something to be said for parents who forget the tough times of babyhood and only have the fuzzy nostalgia. If not, why would people keep having more kids?

  10. I think this is a great post! I think those of us without kids forget how hard it can be sometimes. Good luck! :)

    Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!!

  11. If I wrote down everything I wanted to say to you after reading your last few posts, it would never end.....I have been nodding my head in agreement and laughing (empathetically of course) through it all.....I hear you. We have A LOT in common.

    I loved the tale of you and your son and her teenage son....after spending 2 afternoons at the mall this week with my 4 yr son, I would have happily sold him for $1 by the end of the 2nd trip. I never go shopping since he has never been the kind of child you can shop with.....my daughter loved shopping, he HATES it and hates me doing it...unless it's toystores of course and I almost had to have a fake tantrum to get him to leave.....ay yi yi!!

    Thank you so much for your lovely comment on my blog on Friday, I really appreciated your comment and the admiration is totally mutual, I really enjoy your writing.

    Happy Week-end!
    Simone :)

  12. Your post was a really honest and true one. I do remember when my kids were little and I do miss those times... but my gosh when you are in the thick of it you can go absolutely crazy! Come to think of it, I still go crazy... so just so you know, the crazy stays with you. It's just a different kind of crazy, that's all.

    Happy Saturday Sharefest Sitsta ;~>

  13. I'm with you...I hope it gets easier. Yes, I lover her baby-ness, but what I wouldn't give to be able to go to Target, or a sit down restaurant, without waiting for the inevitable explosion.


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