I guess it was inevitable that my baby would not stay a baby forever.
In many ways it is a pleasure to see him mature and develop. I can count on him to give me hugs and kisses just for the heck of it. He increasingly understands what his father and I say to him and he responds (selectively) in kind. He recently discovered that he can dance. Since then he hasn’t heard a dance beat that he can resist. Then today, he fearlessly climbed down four steps on his own only to stop because my whoops of joy alerted him to the fact that he was entering unprecedented territory.
Every day brings something new.
But along with the cuteness and the awe comes the awareness that my sweet baby is now a Capital-T-Toddler.
How do I know this? I can’t take this child out to restaurants anymore.
Check this: Once upon a time, C and I could take Baby E to a restaurant and get comments on “What a good baby” we had. The commenters came to this conclusion because Baby E was mostly quiet. He either sat in our laps or in a high chair. In the really early days he even went to sleep for a good part of our meal time. We could generally count on him being mostly chilled out unless he was hungry and of course that could be solved with nursing.
Capital-T-Toddlers do not do these things.
What I have learned, is that my Capital-T-Toddler will have a meltdown if we take him to a restaurant after 7:00 pm. He will not sit in a high chair. He will not sit still on our laps. He will insist on running away from our table. He will not be satisfied by nursing. He will do the “stiff-body laying on the floor while screaming thing.”
If we take him to a restaurant earlier in the day, things go much better. He is a much happier child. However, happy Toddlers still want to play with everything on the table. Happy Toddlers throw/drop food on the floor. Happy Toddlers leave big messes that lead certain parents (me!) to be even better tippers out of guilt.
My child is developing what I call, “The cuteness threshold” which is the point where the level of cuteness becomes inversely related to the level of Capital-T-Toddlerism.
In other words, it’s when the “awwww” turns into “noooooooo!”
The month of January has brought a plethora of illness to the Navelgazing household. If it involved puking, diarrhea, conjunctivitis or copious amounts of mucous, we’ve had it. One after the other the three of us fell like flies and never had more than a few days of feeling well before being struck again.
To say that I’m ready to be done with this cycle is an understatement.
One of the things I’ve observed throughout these bouts of illness is how mothering seems to work (or at least my version of mothering). I can’t speak for fathering or any other version of parenthood so forgive me if I’m coming across as exclusionary of others.
When my little one is sick, it is me that he wants the most. I’m the provider of milk which serves as both food and medicine. He’s fine with his daddy some of the time, but Baby E must have his dose of mama or all is not right with his world. So I spend a lot of time cuddling, nursing, and soothing this small person through his misery.
That is as it should be, right?
What ultimately happens is that I will be coughed on, sneezed on, snotted on, puked on, pooped on, etc., etc., etc. I will then get the sickness du jour.
I realize that this has a purpose. In order for me to pass antibodies to the illness through my milk to Baby E, I must be exposed to said illness.
So now, I’m sick too and still primarily responsible for this small person, who might be still sick, on the mend or totally well by this point.
Either way, my body is not totally my own whether sick or well.
The daddy of this house does not have this problem. It isn’t that he doesn’t care or doesn’t help out. It’s more that he’s now the second-in-command of this parenting ship. He goes off to work most days of the week, which leaves Baby E and me alone a lot. When he’s sick, he can mostly count on me to keep the little one away so he can recuperate. When I’m sick, I still have to nurse Baby E whether I feel up to it or not.
I’m not writing this post to complain. I’m well aware that my situation is ameliorated by the fact that I am partnered and do not currently suffer from chronic illness or disability. I just felt the need to record my observation that even on my worst day I’m inextricably intertwined with my child.
And that is just the way it is.
I forgive you for:
- Pulling a box of freshly delivered pizza to the floor before anyone could get a slice
- Peeing on the carpet and then laughing about it
- Pooping on the bed
- Biting my nipple
- Pulling my hair
- Laughing when I shriek “Ouch!”
- Practicing your ability to echo your voice at 2 AM
- Headbutting me in the mouth
- Throwing my jewelry down the stairs
- Writing on the wall
- Sneezing on my face
- Unplugging the cable box in the middle of a good show
- Taking an anti-nap stance
I forgive you because I love you.
I forgive you because you’re only 17 and half months old and you act like it.
I forgive you because I’m not perfect and I probably need to be forgiven for a few things (needs a whole other post).
I forgive you because we’re in a symbiotic relationship.
I forgive you.