A List of Thoughts from my Twenty-Fourth Month of Motherhood
A list of thoughts from my twenty-fourth month of being a mother.
I haven’t done one of these in a year! But it seemed like it was time to updated my thoughts on motherhood after 24 months of being a mother. So here it goes…
Being in charge of a human is weird. Like, I no longer just have to keep her alive (although I do have to still do that) I also have to teach her how to be a good person, how to not be a jerk, how to interact with society but still buck the unjust systems. It’s a lot of pressure!
My new biggest fear is Leo repeating something I should not have said in front of her. I know it’ll come. I just don’t know when. The waiting is terrifying.
I’m also waiting for her to make a situation real awkward. I remember one time when I was little we had my grandparents over for dinner. My mom brought out a pie and my grandpa declared it was “Delicious. So much better than those pre-made pie crusts people use now days. I hate when people use those.” “Grandpa,” I exclaimed, “ This IS a pre-made pie crust from a box!” “Oh well, I didn’t mean…this is still great!” he back tracked. It got real awkward real fast. I’m sure that’s coming for me soon.
I haven’t nursed Leo in a year. I still wearing my nursing bras. I also still have a few pairs of maternity pants I really love. I feel no shame. I will never wear non-elastic waist bands again.
Potty training seems like a lot of work. I don’t understand why people are in a rush to potty train their kids. Sprinting from the back of Target to the bathrooms while she screams “ I can’t hold it!!” and pees all over me does not sound like a situation I’d like to rush in to. Diapers are so much more convenient. I can change her whenever we have time. I am not prepared to give up that convenience.
My least favorite part of parenting is not the diapers or the crying or the hitting. Nope. The worst part of parenting? Switching out their clothes. Every 3 freaking months you have to completely switch out their wardrobes. Oh but it’s not that easy. It’s not just trading out all the clothes. It’s deciding which clothes still fit, which ones are too small, keeping track of which ones are which sizes so you can box them back up together. Not all 2T clothes are the same size. Why aren’t they all just the same size!? Don’t they know how much time that would save me? But alas, they are not. So every few months I spend one whole entire Saturday going through Leo’s entire dresser and closet, deciding what fits, what doesn’t, which things we’ll switch out, pulling all the tubs of clothes out and making sure all the right sizes are in their individual tubs. It sucks. It’s the worst. I would pay $500,000 to have someone do this for me (I don’t have $500,000). The point is, it sucks.
Watching your kid learn to say words is amazing. It’s hilarious and adorable and fills you with a weird amount of pride. “Elftie?” “YES! That IS an elephant!!! You are the smartest person in the world! You’re incredible! I’m more proud of you than I have ever been at any of my own impressive accomplishments! You’re magical!” It’s a weird low bar, but I like it.
Leo has been sleeping through the night for 18 months. I’m still exhausted. By all rights I shouldn’t be, I get more than enough sleep. But I am. Because being in charge of another person is exhausting and no amount of sleep will cure you. Just lean in to the exhaustion. It’s your life now.
Leo associates every drive thru with chicken nuggets. Anytime I go through a drive-thru she immediately puts her hand up and says “Nuggey?” It starts when I order. As soon as I order the hand goes up. “Nuggey?” “We have to wait, we have to pay first and then they’ll give them to us.” I pull up to the window and pay. Hand up. “Nuggey?” “We have to go to one more window and then they’ll give them to us!” Pull up to the final window. Hand up. “NUGGEY!?!?” Also, I can no longer go through any drive thru that doesn’t have chicken nuggets.
I have no idea what Leo will like. She loves to climb so I bought her a big outdoor slide. She won’t touch it, plays with sticks instead. I built her a climbing arch. Plays with toilet paper tubes. We got her a mini trampoline, she’s obsessed. Plays on it non-stop. I think this is why people end up with a house full of toys, because it’s such a crap shoot! You have no idea what they’ll like and what they will never touch.
I re-watch my favorite movies and tv shows constantly. I’ve seen Jurassic Park 30+ times, every episode of The Office and Friends 50+ times. I just tend to watch the same thing over and over again. And guess who else does!? Thanks to Leo I have now also seen Moana, The Good Dinosaur, and Tarzan 100+ times. I feel like I’ve been training for this my whole life.
It’s weird how much of my life is now dictated by this tiny person’s thoughts and feelings and random whims. What time I wake up, when I get to shower, how much work I get done, if I get to work out, if I get to go out, when I eat, what I eat, how clean my house is. Literally every part of my life is now directed by a small but forceful and largely non-verbal dictator.
I was always so afraid my anxiety would make me a terrible mom, that it would make it hard for me to focus on my kids, that I would stress them out by always being on edge. But I think my anxiety has actually made me a way better mom. I am a surprisingly laid-back parent, I think mostly because I’ve had to learn how to stop and think before reacting emotionally (because I can never trust my emotions thanks to the anxiety). And those skills have really carried over into parenthood. I also think I’m not as worried about some things that other parents tend to worry about because I’m so used to fighting my anxiety and worry, I don’t let it take over (usually). So if you have bad anxiety and you’re afraid having a kid will make it way worse- it might not!!!
There is absolutely nothing like when she runs up and gives me a hug or kiss out of nowhere. The other day she said I love you, “Ah Wuvoo” to me for the first time and I almost died. It is the most amazing thing ever and makes all the other stuff more than worth it.
Sick toddlers are so much worse than sick babies. Sick babies are sad, but they’re snuggly, they sleep a lot. Sick toddlers, in my experience, are ANGRY. About everything. All day. Leo just had a cold and she screamed at me non-stop for about a week. I did not like it.
I’m realizing how important it is for Leo to see us standing up for others, putting others first, never letting sexist or racist comments slide. She sees what we do much more than what we say, and it’s becoming so much more important that she sees us do what’s right.
My feet still swell. They never did before I was pregnant. Never one time in my entire 31 years. Then I got pregnant and my feet were swollen constantly. I assumed they’d go back to normal after I gave birth. Nope. They still swell up anytime it’s hot or I’m walking a lot or on them for a while. I also sweat like, a lot now. I never used to sweat that much. I’d sweat some if I was really working out hard or something, but now I sweat when I’m just kind of warm. If I walk 100 feet. If I go up a flight of stairs. I sweat constantly. And it’s like, huge drips. People tell you about pregnancy-related changes but they don’t tell you that those changes don’t always go away.
Kids move stuff. Stuff you would never think they’d be interested in. They find it and they put it in the weirdest places.
I’m also realizing how important it is what we watch. Not because of violence or sex or language, but just the general message so many kids movies and shows have. Almost every Disney movie has a horrifically sexist plotline, even if it’s not on purpose. Beauty and the Beast, for example. Gaston is constantly harassing Belle and she is never unkind or rude, she’s always super polite, says “May I please have my book back?” when he grabs it from her. When he barges into her house and tries to force her to marry him, she says “I’m so sorry, I just don’t deserve you.” Even when they try to make it seem like a woman is standing up for herself she’s still expected to be kind, pleasant and polite. That drives me insane. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE POLITE WHEN SOMEONE IS HARRASSING YOU OR MAKING YOU UNCOMFORTABLE. That is why I love Moana. No romantic plot line, she stands up for herself without being subtle or polite, she saves the day herself. So much better.
I think the hardest part of parenthood (and especially motherhood in most cases) is that you’re the one that has to decide everything. What will they eat? Wear? Do that day? When should they nap? Should I go get her or let her cry? Does she need medicine or not? Doctor or wait it out? You have to decide EVERYTHING and it’s absolutely exhausting.
Risky play is super important for kids. It develops balance, coordination, gives them confidence in themselves and their abilities. And also, let’s be honest, it’s super fun! It’s fun to see if you can balance on that board or when your dad throws you super high in the air. I have gotten more criticism (mostly on social media) for the way I let Leo engage in risky play than anything else about my parenting. I find that so funny. I’m not letting her play with knives, I’m letting her climb her water table or watching her dad throw her in the air while she giggles. These are super important things for her to do! I know it can seem scary at first, but I am a firm believer that letting kids be adventurous is really good for them.
Things I thought I would never do as a mother:
o Have a dirty car seat filled with food and stains
o Let a kid tear apart my house just to keep them busy
o Let your kid leave the house with a disgustingly dirty face
o Give a kid an iPad to keep them from screaming
And you know what? I do every single one of those things now. Because I realized it does not make you a better mother because you do things the hard way. And there’s nothing that makes you a worse mother because you do things the easy way. Leo hates riding in the car unless she’s watching an iPad and I resisted for the longest time because I thought I was “giving in” and she wasn’t learning some important lesson about riding in the car while being bored? I don’t know. But then I realized the only person I was punishing was myself. Leo was not learning anything except to hate car rides. I was not helping either of us by making car rides so traumatic. Motherhood is hard. Make things easier on yourself. Don’t be a martyr.
I know you did not ask, but in case you want to know, here is my advice (after 24 FULL months of parenting!) that I would give to any parent:
Fruits and veggies both have the same types of vitamins and minerals and necessary nutrients in them. You don’t have to force your child to eat vegetables in order for them to get all the nutrients they need. You’re welcome. I just saved you 10 years of stress.
Also, you don’t HAVE to force your kid to eat everything on their plate. Or ANYTHING that’s on their plate. It’s not my job to decide if she’s hungry or not. Meal times have been SO much more relaxing once I realized that. Baby Led Weaning is the best for this! They learn to figure out when they're hungry, when they're not, how much they want to eat. Which is great, because I already have to make enough decisions for her, I don't also want to decide how much she eats. That seems exhausting.
Transitions for toddlers are hard. Having a lot of patience while we transition to a new activity (car, meals, baths, getting dressed, etc.) has made a world of difference. It’s funny that we don’t think of it that way but like, if someone came up to you in the middle of a project and were like “WE’RE LEAVING THE HOUSE RIGHT NOW!” And you’re thinking “What? I’m like, right in the middle of this awesome tower. Look how cool it is! I’m like, in the zone. Can we maybe wait a few minutes?” “NO WE’RE LEAVING RIGHT NOW PUT YOUR SHOES ON LET’S GO!” That would be real annoying. So I try not to do that. My parenting motto: Don’t do something to Leo I wouldn’t want someone doing to me.
Help is everything. Get help. Ask for help. Beg for help. Help with watching your kids, help with your laundry, your dishes, your meals, whatever. Just get help. It’s too much to do by yourself. You will die of exhaustion and irritation and from being trapped under a 5 foot pile of dirty pants. It’s not worth it. Just get help.
Baby proof your house. Like, every part of it. Because then you can sit on the couch and relax for 5 minutes without worrying what your child is doing and if it’s going to kill them.
Sleep train. Do it. Yes it's hard. Yes it's sometimes sad at first. But teaching your baby to sleep through the night is life-changing. DO IT.
Have low expectations. Be flexible. Just relax. Nothing you do (for the most part) will ruin your child forever. Your child will not grow up to be a serial killer because you didn’t feed them enough broccoli or because they got too much sodium one day or because they watched slightly more TV than your friend’s kid. They will be fine. Having a happy, relaxed home is so much more important than the amount of Vitamin C they got last Thursday.
Kids are fun. They're exhausting. Sometimes we do creative, homemade sensory bins, sometimes I give her an iPad so I can nap on the couch for 5 minutes. Don't put too much pressure on yourself, just do things the way you do things and don't worry about how other people do things!