Glory Days: 10 things you won’t miss about the baby years.

May 4th, 2012

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“One day I’ll miss these early wake up calls,” a new mom assured herself the other day, by way of apologizing for indulging a bleary groan over her baby’s 5 a.m. stirrings.

I felt it was my duty, as the senior mother, to lend some perspective on this swiftly fleeting time of her life.

“No,” I assured her. “No, you won’t.”

She can take my word on this. My youngest just turned eight. His brothers are thirteen and eleven. My family is in that sweet spot, the middle years, where we all still like each other, and everyone can get in and out of the car by themselves and go to the bathroom unassisted. It’s glorious.

Of course, there are things I miss about the baby years, but sleep deprivation is not one of them. Neither is that reflexive guilty feeling whenever I admitted to myself–or heaven forbid, to others–that I wasn’t rolling in gratitude and joy every second of every minute. The early years are challenging, physically and emotionally. But you can’t admit it without someone there to remind you they’ll be grown before you know it, and oh, how you’ll long to have this time back. The insinuation being that you don’t properly appreciate the gift of motherhood right now.

That, my friends, is a diaper load.

Not only is it unhelpful, and dismissive of the totality of parenting, it’s downright depressing. As if the baby years are as good as it gets, and it’s all downhill from there. The years fly by, the babies grow up, and there’ll be nothing left to do but haunt tired new moms in the grocery aisles with tales of the glory days. The ghost of Motherhood Past.

I’m not going to be that ghoul. I’d rather be a beacon of hope instead, the one who says, “Wow, babies are precious, but I remember how exhausting that was. Hang in there, it gets better!”

In that spirit, as a Mother’s Day gift to new moms everywhere, I offer a list of 10 things you won’t miss about the baby years.

  1. Sleep interruption. As fondly as I recall snuggling with nursing babies and spooning with anxious toddlers in the wee hours, I savor every unbroken hour.
  2. The cargo. My back muscles twitch every time I see a mother lugging a sleeping baby from the car in an infant seat, or balancing a toddler on one hip, with an overstuffed diaper bag slung against the other.
  3. The hassle factor. The simplest errands become major undertakings when you factor in car seats, nap schedules, diapers and tantrums. I feel like a stealth operative now that it’s possible to just hop out of the car and duck into the post office. I buy stamps while humming the theme music to Mission Impossible.
  4. Diapering. I put in six accumulative years of cloth and disposables, for an estimated 14,000 changes. I don’t miss one of them. Toilet training is also a 100 per cent nostalgia-free zone.
  5. Lack of privacy. There was a time when my children and I were almost always on the same side of the bathroom door. Nowadays, I won’t even speak to them through it.
  6. Crying as the primary mode of communication. I see this as an evolutionary design flaw. If calves can walk moments after birth, why can’t newborn humans speak simple sentences? Or at least write a note?
  7. Two words: Nasal suction.
  8. Two more: Spit up.
  9. Baby proofing. Let me tell you, the unfettered cabinet door is a marvel of engineering. Never take it for granted.
  10. Insecurity. Anxiety. Obsessiveness. Guilt. Fear of screwing up. Pressure. It’s not that I’ve never known those feelings since my children outgrew the baby years, but experience is a mighty shield against them. I survived that brief, intense, beautiful, challenging time. My back a little weaker, but my confidence much stronger.
Finally, here’s something the ghosts of Motherhood Past never tell you: there is so much to look forward to beyond the baby years. Like the delightful people who emerge from them with you, who will always be your babies. No matter how fast time flies.

 

 

23 Responses to “Glory Days: 10 things you won’t miss about the baby years.”

  1. juliloquy says:

    This is beautiful, Kyran. I’m with you 100%. My kids are 7.5 and 4.5, and other than a few underwear accidents and the melodramatic moods of the younger, I indeed feel that these are the glory years. Happy Mothers’ Day to all of us!

  2. marilee pittman says:

    Wonderful.

  3. Melissa Mc says:

    Amen and amen.

  4. Anna Barker says:

    Exceptionally well put. Loved my babies, but do not miss that time of my life. I would happily freeze them at 6 and 12 as I love the little people they’ve become. I look forward to watching them grow up.

    • Radipa says:

      hey lady we would love to donate! could you pselae email me your address & i will send you a check? i’m a little behind on the times, preferring snail mail and checks to the internet and, well, i still read magazines more than i read blogs, you know what i mean ;) love love love, rach

  5. Julie says:

    this made me SMILE and feel RELIEF! Two gifts for a Friday afternoon :) Every month I say “THIS is my favorite age”. As the mama to a 2 1/2 yo and a 1 yo, I’m soaking it up/ enduring/ anxiously awaiting a nap in a few years!

  6. Lorilin says:

    You are so right! Thank you!

  7. Alexandra says:

    ::cue ugly Lucy cry::

    Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh….

  8. Sabrina says:

    Thank you! I always feel like I have to say I love the baby years. I love my baby, but I don’t always enjoy what comes with it. I told my husband that all I wanted this Mother’s Day was one night of uninterrupted sleep! :)

  9. Hales says:

    Thank you for this oasis in the desert of my life. I was 26, married, career driven, and fully prepared (Ha!) for my baby. Unfortunately hardly any mothers tell you about the almost constant feelings of guilt and failure. Nothing feels better than knowing that I’m not alone and a complete failure for not loving and saving every poopy diaper.

  10. Jaime says:

    Thank you!! I have a 4.5 and almost 3-yr old. People are always asking us if we’ll have more…and I feel guilty when I say “no”, and that the honest answer is that I want the baby years to be over. I loved snuggling with my babies. But I want to be able to go out and DO things again, without worrying about diapers or bottles. My 4-yr old recently learned how to unbuckle herself from her carseat, and I’m still ecstatic over it. Babies are great, but they turn into great people, too, and that’s a good thing.

  11. melody says:

    LOVE —–THANKS FOR THE HUGE LAUGH!!!! I so agree and will pass this on to all the mom’s in know in the deep throes of exhaustion and spit up!!! :) made my day.

    Melody

  12. Betsy says:

    Oh, so true! I do not miss those baby years at all. Mine are now 17 and 19 and wow so much better-they are funny, smart, creative and sooooo enjoyable to be around. We have conversations and they can do things on their own, by themselves-oh the joy! I will admit the car insurance, high school and college tuition is a bit much, but I will take that over dirty diapers and spit up any day.

  13. Sarah H says:

    Loved this, thankyou! I happen to be enjoying my 10mo greatly, but love the idea that it keeps getting better :)

  14. Bev says:

    What a great perspective! I’m at the stage now where I know that I’ll never snuggle another infant of mine…our grands will be nine, eleven, and thirteen [yikes!] in the next couple of months. Since we frequently travel to and with them, I deeply appreciate this post and do recognize that we too are “in that sweet spot, the middle years, where we all still like each other, and everyone can get in and out of the car by themselves and go to the bathroom unassisted.” You’re so right, it is glorious.

  15. Leigh says:

    AMEN. And I have one more: being able to leave them at home without a sitter. Mine are 13 and 10, and it is a huge blessing to to out for a cup of coffee with my husband or to go grocery shopping alone without having to deal with childcare arrangements!

  16. Christy says:

    Hi Kyran, I saw you at Listen to Your Mother. I agree with this list! #2 reminded me of the time my Mom paid for me to visit the chiropractor because my back was so out of whack from carrying the infant seat everywhere!

  17. Hooray! Considering that I’m gearing up for baby #2, this post is my favorite this week.

  18. Amanda says:

    I just had a baby a month ago, after a 4 year break between kids. What in the hell was I thinking? I had it so good!!! The baby is cute when he is sleeping or not crying (colicky baby) but my arms are killing me and the bags under my eyes are big enough to carry a couch home in! Sigh…You really don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone! This too shall pass!

  19. Sarah says:

    Kyran, I LOVE this. I’m in the thick of it now…ages just-4, almost-2 and contemplating a third. :) I follow you on Twitter and have been seeing your name mentioned by other bloggers I love … I’ve been meaning to actually add you to my Google Reader for the longest time – this was the first post I read, and I’m so glad to have found you! :)

  20. Love this. I’m right in the middle of all 10. Needless to say, I’m exhausted. Constantly. And constantly feeling guilty I’m not “enjoying” myself more. Thanks for bringing some clarity :)

  21. Susie says:

    Totally needed to read this today. Thank you!

  22. Laila says:

    Thanks so much for this – I’ve got an 11 month old and I always wondered if this was really the “best” time, as all those well-meaning ladies’ comments implied. It’s mindblowingly wonderful at times, and crazy-making at times. Good to know it gets better – I hoped it did!

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