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.