Friday, July 15, 2011

5 Things I Won't Miss About the Baby Years

 Now that our son is well past age 1 and our daughter has been out of 'baby mode' (mostly) for over 2 years, I almost feel like the "Baby Years" are behind us.  I loved my babies.  I loved everything about them, every moment, every new thing, every sensation in every way.  However, like many earth-shattering, life-changing experiences, there are things about it I won't miss.  Similar to my Peace Corps experience, being a new parent during those Baby Years was the "toughest job I'd ever love" (I've heard adolescence isn't a cake walk either!) and I am here to say "good riddance" to the tough parts!  Here are the Top 5 things I will not miss in any way shape or form.

1.  Feeling like a hostage to my babies' breastfeeding needs.  I loved breastfeeding and I would make the same choices all over again.  But sometimes I felt like breastfeeding's puppet, like it really controlled me, rather than the other way around.  And I don't tend to like not being in control.  But that's how nature intended.  It's what works best for baby.  Maybe it was my personality, but there were times when I could almost see the metal chains and feel the metal cuffs that, whenever my kids' needed to nurse (sometimes every 30 minutes an hours!) would supercede everything else in my life and pull me out of the real world and into the nursing cocoon.

2.  Trying to use the bathroom while nursing one baby and comforting the other (A.K.A. Ridiculous multi-tasking).  That's almost all I need to say or can say about this one.  I don't even like the feeling I get just trying to remember what it was like to hold a nursing or crying baby with one hand and finally decide to just go ahead and use the bathroom at the same time, come what may.  Stretched.  To.  The. Max.  Emotionally and physically.  Moving on.

3.  Not getting a chance to look at myself in the mirror (and when I did, not recognizing the person there)  This is just a different variation on #2, but a distinct one.  Basically, I will not miss having no time to pay attention to myself.  I know my hair looked scary crazy some days and there were days when I just had to 'take one for the team' and skip a shower.  I would go to work and people would pick cheerios off my back and politely tell me they thought I had dried baby spit-up on my shoulder.  Nice!  What this boils down to was having so many people (kids, husband, co-workers, boss, etc!) with so many needs imposed upon me that I just feel like an entity meeting the needs of others,to the point of losing my sense of self.  [Perhaps I could have used some therapy for that, ha ha!]

4.  Feeling not unlike a cow.  All you new mommas who pump milk for your baby, holla!  I may miss breastfeeding my kids (eventually) but I will NEVER miss the pump.  It was a nice pump.  It worked very well and allowed me to feed my child when we weren't together.  For this I am forever grateful to the inventor of the pump and to those who gifted me the pump.  But the pump and I had a love-hate relationship I will not miss.  MOOOOOOOOve over pump, don't let the door hit you in the butt when you leave!

5.  The ever-present fear that somebody or something would take away my newfound joy.  This is not something I've talked about with other moms so I'm unsure if this is a common feeling.  I was, almost on a daily basis, scared that somehow, my babies would die.  I hate to put such a fine point on it, but that's how I felt.  The nature of my career has enlightened me about all of the possible ways parents can lose babies, so that may be part of it.  More than that, though, was that  I was so incredibly in love with my babies, so happy with everything they brought into my life that I thought there was no way that Whoever's In Charge would allow me to continue being so happy without some sadness to balance it out.

I'm not sure that the fear of #5 has subsided, but it is more in the background than the foreground now.  I know that statistically, the risk of losing a child after infancy drops dramatically.  There are times when I hug them and think about all these things I won't miss and pull them a little tighter, feeling like we've done battle together and I'm ready for almost anything ahead.  I've been in the trenches of the Baby Years.  Bring it on.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The first poem

OK so I've decided to share the first poem which I wrote and received notable positive feedback in a creative writing class I took with Robert Bausch in the summer of 1996.  At the time I was 19 years old majoring in Chemistry.  We read my poem in class and I got good feedback from my classmates.  Aftewards we all went to a restaurant and "Bob" told me I was in the wrong major, that it should be poetry.  Now that I think about it, it may have been the beer talking - but I've always remembered and appreciated his feedback, and even though I didn't change my major, I think his comment at least partially inspired me to keep writing, creatively or not.  Even if very few people think it's good, care about it or read it. 

A few high school teachers' comments and words to me were also inspirational.  Ms. Turner, my high school AP English teacher; Ms. Zimmerman, my senior year GEMS teacher, and Madame Rose, my senior year French teacher.  They all seemed to see something in me that I didn't see in myself.  Ms. Zimmerman has since passed away and I regret not having the opportunity to tell her how much her words meant to me. 

So to Ms. Turner, Madame Rose and Bob - if by some off chance you ever read this, this one's for you.  Thank you.

leg freckles

I have four freckles on my legs.
Two on one.  Two on the other.
Connect the dots and form
almost perpendicular lines.
Almost mirror reflections.
I used to wish they were perfect
freckle-to-freckle prints.
Same browns.  Same sizes.
Symmetrical so if I were
split down the middle, I'd be
the same on both sides.
Making sense.
But now, I like them 'cause
they're imperfect.  A little
off-center, slightly askew,
a tad under- or over hue and
instead of reflecting each other,
they reflect me.
Pretty accurately.

Copyright Mary Beth Cox, 2011.  All rights reserved.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The last of the "clip clops."

Slowly and quickly, we have stopped keeping track of Big Sister's age in terms of weeks and months and we are now decidedly keeping track by the full year count.  Three.  I never get tired of saying "It's hard to believe."  Because it is.  Somewhere along the way, between 24 months and 36 months, after coming up for air after the grand entrance of Baby Genius into our lives, I realized we had been keeping track of so many "firsts" that the "lasts" had been quietly fading into the past.  When did we switch from counting months to counting years?  I cannot say.

So I've been trying to capture, using my mental camera, my real camera, and my periodic journaling, the "lasts".  One of the most painful for me is that somewhere between the summer of 2010 and the advent of spring 2011, Big Sister gained the ability to say the "f" sound, so what once were "clip clops" are now "flip flops" (or close enough anyway).  I really liked "clip clops" so I reserve the right to still call them that!  Every time she says 'flip flops' I'm reminded of the passage of time... like sands between my toes when I'm wearing my clip clops.  :)

Baby Genius has had many recent notable and noticeable lasts.  I missed documenting the exact date, but we put away the Johnny Jump Up a few months ago, and the Activity Table.  He is too thrilled with running and moving to be deterred by such stationary or restrictive devices!  Almost as soon as his grandparents bought him his first pair of Big Boy Size 4 shoes, he outgrew them.  Those are the worst.  When the 'last' butts up too close to the 'first."  Those are hard on the heart.

Perhaps the biggest "last" lately has been the end of breastfeeding.  That happened on Saturday, June 18, almost 3 weeks ago.  I made a conscious decision to always remember it.  I came home after a 2-day trip and tried to nurse him to comfort him and he bit me!  That bite told me, "Mom, this has been dwindling for a while.  I drink milk just fine!  I don't need you to do this any more for me."  (Also he was really gassy!)

This 'last' signified freedom for me, and greater independence for him.  So far we are both the better for it!  I can wear pretty (smaller!) bras, and not feel like there's an invisible chain he can pull to make me do his bidding!  He seems a little more relaxed; I think the need to nurse sometimes made him anxious and uncomfortable. 

I know one day I will be sad remembering the days when all my kids needed was a fresh diaper and some food that only I could provide.  There may even be a day when I wish I had another baby to hold and cuddle and nurse.  But those will be fleeting, and I will be able to return to the here-and-now and relish in being able to have my body be my own!  At last!