"By preschool no one cares how long you breastfed, or if at all. Least of all your kid. There’s no stamp on anybody’s backpack indicating who did baby-led weaning and who ate Beech Nut out of a jar. Everybody potty trains, and by elementary school you’re happy if you manage to remember that other mom’s NAME, much less give a crap what her work situation is." –@Amalah over at the Advice Smackdown
As the Jude has aged my confidence in myself – in my parenting – has grown. We still have plenty of issues (gah grr arg!) but I don't question how I deal with them, not too closely anyway. Toddlerhood has been downright pleasant. I've considered that we're probably lucky that Jude has a generally pleasant demeanor, but even taking into account the moments I want to sell him to a hobo this is still a fucking DELIGHT in the face of a communication-less screaming infant. I can ask him questions and he'll answer– WITH WORDS. Sing me a love song to toddlerhood, my dear, and I'll sing right along.
My days of obsessive office-bathroom-pumping and milk-supply-fretting are behind me, along with all my baby carriers and mesh crib bumpers and the details of a million other things I spent all my energy fussing over. Now most of my effort goes into running around the room playing fire robots and talking about how and why. I don't have time to research every aspect of upcoming potty training, we'll just wing it and it will be fine. Really. I can just brush it off like that. Look at meeee!
All the things I worried and researched and occupied myself with a year ago feel miles away. I still agree with them, and they're still important (...probably). I'm pleased with the choices we made, but really– it's just not that relevant anymore. Part of it is a natural shift with Jude's development, but part of me looks back on my infant/baby/toddlby self and thinks, wow, that girl had a lot of time on her hands. Was I really worried because that stuff mattered so deeply or was I just grasping for control in an uncontrollable unfamiliar situation? A little of this, and probably a little of that too.
Now that my kid is more like a kid, instead of researching nutritional regimes and sleep habits I've been thinking about not washing my freaking hair and wearing blush as if I actually care about myself. Is this a new life of luxury? It's completely revolutionary to feel like myself again and less like a twenty-four-hour mom robot. I felt lost for a long time there, but I think I've found my way back.
If you ever feel like a swamped, obsessed, only-mom robot, know that it will end. You'll be you again, but you'll also be a mom. You'll just balance it better. It's coming. You'll make it. I was trapped in a sticky dirty play room full of babies and moms and strollers and vomit when suddenly a door opened out of nowhere filled with bright sunlight, and when I stepped through Jude and I were hand in hand on the sidewalk on even footing with the rest of humanity. Hello again, world.
Admittedly, this would be an entirely different story if we were having another baby and starting the journey over from the beginning. Equipped with this knowledge, if there's a next time, maybe it will be easier to find my way back here. I'm leaving breadcrumbs for escape from the trenches.
Is this finally the wisdom of experienced parenthood? I know we will flounder around in the dark for years to come trying to figure out the hard parts of parenting, but–
It's okay. We're okay.