Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Perpetual Baby Phase

For the past six and a half years, I have had a diaper in my purse.

Casey, my second child, was born before my first was potty trained.  Back then I had two different sized diapers in my purse.  

Colin, my third child, was born just as Casey was graduating to the potty, but I always had to be prepared.  So around that time I had two sized diapers in my purse too.  

Now my third is 19 months, Casey is 4, Braden (my first) is 6, and I have one size diaper that I carry around.

As the diaper quantity and sizes have shifted around in my purse over time, the majority of my friends have graduated from this stage.  They no longer carry around diapers in their purse.  They also don't cut up food in small pieces or carry around sippy cups.  They don't have to be home by noon for nap time, and scream bloody murder in the car to keep their toddler from falling asleep on the way home.  They don't have to worry about explosive diapers or sleep training or choking hazards, and all of their outlet covers have been removed from their home.  They, and their kids, have graduated to a different stage.  And I kind of want to join them.

The other day at our community pool I saw a mom I recognized from when my oldest was a baby. She was on a lounge chair, reading a book, while her son went off the diving board.  As I chased after Colin heading straight for the pool, and removed a rock from his mouth, I nearly cried.

I'm sick of the diapers.  I'm sick of the baby phase.  And I'm really, really tired.

I know, I know, I did this to myself.  Three kids in five years is a lot.  What did I expect?  A walk in the park?  Did I really think that I would be able to sit at the pool in a lounge chair and read anytime soon?

The problem is, I can taste it.  The weird thing about the stage I am in is that I see what it would be like had I, like my contemporaries, graduated out of the baby/toddler phase.  I see it because I have two older children who are in that stage themselves.  They can entertain themselves and feed themselves and dress themselves and brush their own teeth.  Sure, they are still challenging (and them some), but in a different way.  They are self sufficient.  I can sit back and relax a bit when I have the two of them.  I could, with a few glances every few minutes, sit in a lounge chair by the pool reading a book.  

Right now things with three are just so. much. harder.  Often my friends will invite me out to activities, and I think they must have lost their mind.  A morning hike?  An outdoor concert downtown?  A picnic lunch at the park?  Ordering pizza to the pool?  Have they forgotten what it's like to chase around an 18 month old?  Or what happens if they skip a nap?  Probably.  Probably they have.  I certainly would have.

At the end of the day, we end up declining a lot of invitations and foregoing a lot of activities for pure logistical reasons, and it's the older two that miss out.  Everyday between 12:30 and 2:30 we are here at home, tiptoeing around the house while the baby naps.  It results in a lot of TV time, and a lot of shushing.  I find myself yearning to get out of this baby phase - to a time when Colin won't put foreign objects in his mouth.  Or need a nap.  Or need rescuing from imminent death every hour or so.

So there it is, how I feel.  But there's a weird thing going on.

At the same time that I feel all of the above, I also really, really, really want Colin to be a baby forever.  Just like I can taste the freedom to come, I can just feel the baby leaving him every day. He's gaining language, gaining teeth, gaining an attitude, and gaining a sense of himself.  He still will let me rock him and hold him and kiss his tummy.  But not for long.  I know this.

And because he is my third - and my last - these sensations of imminent change can reduce me to tears, pretty much any time of the day.  I cherish him and take him in and try to imprint mental snapshots in my mind.  But I know - I know it will fade.  I know I will forget.  And I know that someday I will look at him in disbelief that he ever was a baby.  Just like I do with his two older brothers.

Having been a mother for nearly seven years, I have realized that there is a constant duality of emotions.  We yearn for the day to be over, but we want time to slow down.  We want our kids to grow up, but we want them to stay small.  We want a vacation away from the kids, but we only want to come home because we miss them so much.

We feel the strongest love we have ever experienced, but we also feel intense fear - fear that can overtake us if we allow it to.

So while I lament and complain and yearn for the day when my life will be a little bit easier, I also cling to the present.  Perhaps never again will my life be so tiring, but perhaps it also will never be so full.

The pool is hard.  But we survive.  
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  1. I still remember the summer I made it to the lounge chair. There was no going back.

  2. My friend with small children was lamenting yesterday that her friends no longer invite her places. Yes, you think your friends are crazy when they invite you to things that don't work with your schedule. They are leaving it to you to make a choice, instead of denying you the choice entirely. Someday (maybe sooner than you think) those requests won't always be crazy, and you'll find yourself being able to say yes.

  3. Wonderful post! I feel the same way - longing for a break in many ways, but so happy to be so tired from chasing around my crazy crew.

  4. My husband and I were sitting at the pool the other day watching our kids swim (youngest is four) and I told him I had been waiting for this moment where we could sit on a lounge chair at the pool! But then I missed being within arms reach of them in the baby pool a few summers ago. The days drag on, but the years fly by. . .


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