Today is my last day as a full time mom. It has been 18 months and 23 days since Lauren was born and since I have assumed the role of "whatever you want, my dear." I am going back to work excited to return to something that is different and sad to think that there are firsts that I won't be able to be there for anymore.

So, today I'm looking back at my experience as a full time mom (something I swore I would never be and the only thing that Matt and I ever really fought about... obviously he won and I'm glad that he was right).

I think that a list of the highs and lows of mommyhood as I know it would be a good was to think back. 

Top Ten Best Things:

1. Hugs. When Lauren first started to give hugs, it was one of the most heartwarming things that she did. I love now when I open up my arms to her and she comes running and throws herself right in for a big squeeze. When she hugs me, it is with so much gentleness and softness and I know that she is being so intentional about showing how much she cares.

2. Touching Lauren. I noticed this morning that her feet are starting to lose that baby softness that little one's skin has but everywhere else her skin is still so soft. And it smells good. I have been known to say (often) that smelling Lauren is my crack. Maybe not the best saying, but considering that I haven't done any drugs ever in my life, I will allow myself to get high off the scent of my child's head. Judge me if you must.

3. Baby babble. Lauren might not be "speaking" much but she is babbling all the time. There are large hand gestures, intonation, and body language involved and often she looks so serious about what she is saying that it is hard not to laugh. As her sign language progresses, many of her hand gestures have more of a purpose, but some of them concern me. For instance, when she asks for me to pick her up, I insist she also say please. I tried to teach her to sign for up, simply by reaching her hands above her head. That has become a single hand reach and then she moves onto please which she has made a quick slap of her chest before extending her arm again. When you put those two motions together... it become a little socially awkward. Act it out and you'll see why. It doesn't help that she has blond hair and blue eyes either. So we encourage the babble.

4. Phone calls. Lauren will pick anything up that bears a slight resemblance to a phone and balance it on her shoulder and start talking (enter in the baby babble). If she can't find a phone and an important call needs to be made, she just places her hand on her shoulder and gets great reception even without a phone. 

5. Kisses. She doesn't always want to give a kiss and we respect that but when she does want a kiss, she gets a super serious look on her face and leans right into your mouth. Usually it is a kind little kiss but every once in a while, she shoots her mouth open at the last minute and you end up with a tongue on the face. Lovely. 

6. Thursday night Rookie Blue time. During the summer, Matt was away on Thursday nights at touch rugby and Lauren and I would have girls' night. After dinner and her bath, we would snuggle up on the couch and watch Rookie Blue (while I would get mommy high off of smelling her skin). I know that it isn't the best cop drama around but I like it and for some reason she really enjoys it too. Don't worry, we fast forward through the "cop" stuff. Mostly the characters just walk around and talk to each other.

7. Cuddling in bed. On the weekends, Matt gets Lauren up and, after changing her, he brings her into our bed where she spends the next half an hour or so cuddling with us. It is so nice to enjoy that morning time and just relax together, rather than jumping up and starting in on a busy day. I try to cherish every minute of it.

8. Seeing things through Lauren's eyes. The geese in the graveyard that we often walk in are a constant source of fascination for Lauren (she gasps out, "Woooow," when she first spots them). I used to just hate them because I would be walking and dodging poop the whole time but now I dodge poop while also calling out "Woooow." Rocks, butterflies and big trucks are also woooows that I never noticed before. I'm still not the hugest fan of them but I like to see what Lauren finds exciting. 

9. Not caring. Obviously I'm not talking about not caring about Lauren, but not caring about many of the little things that I used to care about before. If the dishes have to wait until tomorrow, that's okay. If there are toys strewn about the living room, I'll clean them up when she goes to bed. It's like anything that could take away from my ability to be healthy and present for her I've been able to let go and it is so freeing. Even being able to be totally honest here is such a blessing. I don't have to keep up an image or pretend that everything is okay because everything isn't okay for anyone and if we could all just be real about it, things would be so much simpler. It is much easier to help someone when they tell you what they need, rather than just saying that they're fine. 

10. Enjoying the moments. I love watching Lauren. She is hilarious and sensitive and adventurous. I relish in the fact that I take delight in her. I know how it feels not too, from the period when I was immersed in my depression and this is a way better place to be in. We also know what it feels like to be afraid that there will not be any more moments and I think that really brings this last point home. It has become part of our lives and I'm so glad that we have come out of this year with an ability to feel so much joy and thankfulness.

Well, if you made it through all of that sap, things are about to get real.

Here are the 10 Least Enjoyable Things About Having a Kid.

1. The good old "point and whine." Sometimes I think that Lauren's speech couldn't come soon enough but I know that then it will just be "words and whine." As her signing develops, this is decreasing but I swear that whine noise could send me over the deep edge. Sometimes I just walk up to Matt and say, "Your turn," and he totally gets it.

2. Pooping in the bath. Seriously! My child is in diapers for 23.5 hours of the day and in that short half an hour she is magically able to make a poop appear. She went on a tear for awhile there and every single time we put her in the bath, a poop would rear its ugly head. I was ready to start just wiping her down at the end of the day with a cloth. 

3. Toys. Compared to her friends, Lauren doesn't have that many toys. However, when that number suddenly doubles or quadruples even with the addition of every item in every drawer that she can reach, it becomes a bit of a toy overload. Now I understand why some people give one basket at a time and rotate the other toys out of the house. 

4. Feeding. I despise feeding Lauren. The whole process often involves a lot of "point and whine" and refusal of food. It can be a food that Lauren loves but she is asserting her independence by refusing to eat it. So lately I have just resigned myself to a huge mess as I let her feed herself. I figure that as long as she isn't starving, we're doing okay. And, hey, at least eating doesn't make her pass out anymore. I swear that took year off my life. No wonder I've developed a feeding aversion.

5. Pulling hair. From Day 1, Lauren has been a hair puller. It used to be huge handfuls of hair which wasn't so bad because the pain would be spread over a large area. Then she moved on to just pulling the hairs at the nape of my neck which often left me in tears. Now, as her fine motor skills have progressed, she finds a single hair that seems to look like it wants to escape and she helps it. It usually escapes clean off of my head. I've worn a lot of ponytails this year.

6. Temper tantrums in public. Lauren throws temper tantrums at home and she is picked up, placed down in her room and we walk away. Those tantrums are usually short lived and they are becoming much less frequent. In public they are harder. I still deal with them firmly by picking her up and stopping her movement, but she has that cute thing going. Half the time when Lauren is throwing a tantrum, there are people looking on saying, "Isn't she so cute?!" No. No she is not. Just because she has those blue eyes and blond hair does not mean that she should get away with murder. I'm going to have to stay on top of this kid!

7. Losing myself. For a period of many months there, I felt like all I was was Lauren's mom. Every single thing I did was for her. For obvious reasons, I couldn't leave her. Because she struggled with sleeping without crying and vomiting, I always had to be there when she was sleeping as well. It was day and night for over a year. In the past week, I've completed two baby quilts, gone on walks, gone for bike rides with Matt and Lauren, made stuff for the library and read two books. As Lauren gets older, I'm finding more balance between being a mom and being myself as well. I love letting my brain go and seeing what ideas I can come up with. I have ideas for books in my head and ideas for designs I want to make. And now that I'm off my medication, I'm not to exhausted to actually do things. It is nice to finally feel a sense of balance. 

8. Laundry. When it was just Matt and I we did two loads of laundry a week, maybe three if we were exercising a lot. It is amazing how someone so little can cause the amount of laundry to increase exponentially. 

9. Baby body. Until I stopped breastfeeding, this wasn't an issue. During pregnancy I gained 17 pounds (including baby) and pretty soon afterwards I was comfortable with how I looked. It helped that she was so tiny and she ate all the time. But since she has been weaned, and I didn't immediately wean myself off of chocolate ice cream, there have been issues. And it isn't that I'm so fat or anything like that. I just want to make sure that, as the mom of a little girl, I am sending her the right message about body image. I don't ever want her to hear me say that I look fat or I'm disgusting or anything like that because I know then she will start to look at herself. So, for me and for her, I want to look and feel healthy. 

10. That she's growing up so quickly. This is a mixed blessing. I love seeing her change and grow and discover new things but I miss the habits that she used to have or the things that she used to do. In a way, I feel like we missed a big part of her being a baby, right when she was getting more interactive and fun. I spent some time grieving for what we lost when I thought that we had a healthy baby. It is miraculous that she is as healthy as she is now and I choose to look at it as a cup half full situation, but sometimes I get sad for the part of the cup that spilled out. 

Tomorrow, everything changes. I head back to work and Lauren goes on to daycare. I'm glad that my job is only part time and that I have been scheduled to work from recess until the end of the day, because then I still get time in the morning with my little girl. And, as I have learned from the past 18 months and 23 days, I will continue to enjoy every moment (...except maybe the ones where we're stuck in traffic on the bridge).

1 comment:

  1. All the best to you and Lauren as you navigate this new chapter in your lives. I'm sure it will go well. I really enjoy your honesty and vulnerability. It often helps me put into words things I struggle with. I pray I have the same honesty with people in my life. Have a great day tomorrow!


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