Have you ever written one blog post for 7 weeks, editing, adding, deleting, changing, etc, and then ultimately deciding to erase it because it just wasn’t right? Well, I have. And just did.
That post was about the first year of motherhood, and it was possibly too broad and yet too intimate of a thing to really encapsulate in a ‘blog post’. I tried, I did, but I couldn’t seem to nail it. (I kept it for me, don’t worry)
It has been 5 months since a Charlie update (although you Instagram followers aren’t exactly starving of Charlie content) and it’s time to fit that kid back into the blog every now and again.
He’s 14 months old now. And he’s pretty much the best – or so I say as he’s in his crib, asleep, acting like a total angel. One should NEVER write blog posts when they are sitting in high chairs, looking you in the eye, smiling while repeatedly dropping their sippy cup on the floor, like a psychopath. Sleeping babies are the best blog post babies.
But he’s walking and talking (ish). His first real word, where he intentionally pointed to something and said it was ‘shoe’, and he says it in the most adorable way, more like ‘seeoow’. Since then he has started adding a couple more words – dada, turtle, but he understands so much. He knows where most of his body parts are and knows a lot of the zoo animals sounds, etc. When he was like 9-months-old he was saying mama nonstop – sometimes directly to me and sometimes towards anything that he loved or wanted. Then he stopped. And now he knows that I’m ‘mama’, but the kid is just refusing to call me it.
We are currently going through a pretty wonderful sleep regression period. He was that kid that started sleeping through the night at 10 weeks, on his own. We knew how lucky we were, but you can’t really know how good you have it until you don’t. Well he went through what felt like 2 months of a different cold or cough and he started waking up in the middle of the night. But since he was sick, we weren’t going to let him cry, so we’d give him a bottle and rock him, etc. Well now, he’s not sick, but I’d say every other night he is up at different times, I think just wanting us or a bottle. He’s not screaming, just more like yelling and crying and sometimes he rolls back over and goes to sleep. But it still keeps us up. I’m tempted to get rid of the monitor and instead open our door that way if he is absolutely screaming we’ll hear him, but otherwise we won’t be kept up by every little sound that doesn’t need our attention. I just need to sleep more.
We went back down to from 5 to 3 days a week with a nanny two months ago, and it has been forcing Brian and I to take 1/2 days on Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s kinda awesome. I figure that I work so much at night after Charlie goes to sleep that I can afford more time with him during the week. Some weeks are harder for me than others and I do book a sitter some Wednesdays if I’m shooting at my house so I can be around him. It is just someone to help out, so I can still work and still be near him.
He eats pretty much everything we do – well everything you can gum to death. He still only has six teeth – four on top and 2 on the bottom. He loves salmon, smoothies, eggs and anything that looks like it’s a ‘snack’ or that comes from a package. I’m tempted to make a big veggie casserole and the put it in a package, and stick it in a box so that maybe he’ll be so excited to eat that. I’ve found that I actually really enjoy cooking for him. I love the Weelcious recipe books and so does he, so we make a lot of big batches of homemade food and freeze it for the week. We hide vegetables in smoothies (spinach, kale, apple, berries, banana, chia), in mac and cheeses and in mashed potatoes.
Right now he goes to the gym 2 days a week (it’s a kids play gym, obviously not to work out) and music class once a week (when it doesn’t conflict with his naps). He’s still doing the 10 am nap and often a 2:30 car nap, but then yesterday he slept from 10 – 12, which was amazing and then didn’t take another nap. Really riveting stuff, I know, but I always love to know what is happening with other people’s babies to help gauge everything. I feel like I’m not socializing him as much as I should so I’m on the hunt for moms I love with a kid his age.
Our challenge right now is getting him off the bottle. Since I stopped breastfeeding he has had a bottle before he goes down, and he LOVES it. But you can’t do this forever or their teeth will rot. You have to brush their teeth after the milk and before bed. So we’ve started diluting it and right now its around 1/3 the amount of formula in the water and hopefully that will work. We also haven’t even introduced the idea of going to the bathroom in a toilet to him – I assumed he was just way too young, but then I’ll talk to other moms and find out what they are doing and I’m like, whoops. Like the brushing of the teeth thing – I googled ‘when do you start brushing a baby’s teeth?’ and the answer was ‘when they have a tooth’. I felt pretty stupid, it’s so obvious, right? Every time I think that I’ve got this thing locked down, something like that happens and keeps me in check. First kids get so much love and attention, but they certainly become a victim of first time parenting, right?
And don’t get me started on ‘common sense’. You can convince yourself that every theory/method of parenting is common sense if you want to. It’s common sense to make him eat as much as he can so he sleeps through the night, but it’s also common sense to just give him the food and he’ll eat as much as his body wants. It’s common sense to go in and comfort your child in the middle of the night when they are crying, but it’s also common sense that if you do that every time they will start to expect it and cry just for the comfort. I can go on for 15 pages about this.
Here’s the thing: the first year of motherhood is ONE big dichotomy- a total emotional whack, actually. I feel powerful because I DID THAT and every day I continue to do that. BUT I feel powerless because I am tied emotionally to him at all times and I feel like I can’t make my own decisions any more. I feel beautiful because when people are in love they are more beautiful, and my smile is so broad and genuine. But I feel ugly because my body isn’t exactly up to par and I went ‘mom’ real fast. I feel like I nail it because there are days when the home-baked frittatas are received with a huge YUM, and naps are totally effortless. And yet I miss it constantly because, I mean … so many reasons – he’s still drinking bottles at night, he only has like 2 play dates a week, his ‘brushing of the teeth’ is a total joke, etc. You name it, I feel like I’m missing it. I feel so grateful and like the luckiest person on the planet, while at the same time feeling like a total martyr; as if I do everything. I don’t. Brian is a serious 50/50 parent but it doesn’t negate that weight on my body. I feel so much pressure and I feel so tired all the time, but so does Brian. It’s easy to feel like a martyr when you are a parent, no matter how much of the work you are doing. I feel young because I am so much more playful and silly then I used to be, and yet I feel kinda old because vacations now are us going to Sacramento instead of Laos.
On to the really good stuff. You know what isn’t surprising? I love that little man; that incredibly silly, wonderfully affectionate, and totally loving little man so much. Without any buts or ands. He’s my favorite person and he makes me so happy every single day. He even typically starts the day just playing happily in his crib with his stuffed animals. Also nobody loves a stuffed animal as much as Charlie. Or cats. Or goats at the petting zoo – he puts his arms around them and lies on them. I can’t decide if its good or bad for the cats/goats.
I feel more real stress, less artificial stress. Its like one big priority blanket was thrown over my problems and things just become more clear. Work is important, and I still work 40 – 50 hours a week, I just try to make at least 10 of those are at night after he sleeps. We aren’t really balancing things over here that perfectly but I think that we all know that may not ever exist. Also the grass is always greener so I just try to be really grateful for the projects that I love and the fact that I can make the schedule. I have such respect for all moms that work for their family at home, work outside the home at a job they love, and especially those that leave every day to go to a job they don’t like to help support the family. That is a very serious sacrifice and you deserve a special kind of Mothers Day. Also you single moms out there … I can’t even begin to tell you how much I respect you. Very much.
I feel like I’m a fairly chill mom, but maybe I’m not. I keep trying to tell Brian that we should just pretend that he is our second or third child. Parents don’t freak out as much with their second or third and I think that lack of stress and worry is really good for the family. If he coughs I’m cool, I know he’s fine. I’m not the ‘day to day’ worrier – Brian’s got that covered. But most days my mind goes to the rare cancer, the extreme car crash, the freak accident. The stuff I can’t control is the stuff that causes big synapses in my brain to provoke insane visions of devastating results. I see a pool without a gate and I instantly just see – well you know, what I see – I kinda can’t even type the words. It’s bad. For the record, I was a normal, rather fearless, person before I had a kid. I promise. And now my imagination has stretched in a bad way. That part kinda sucks.
Every single day something devastating COULD happen to your child and it might ruin your life. That is why I consider every single day a total gift. Its sounds so cheezy, I know, but just wait until you have a kid and then wait until you know of another kid who didn’t make it, THEN try to complain about your life. It’s actually impossible at times. If you are alive and your family is healthy and you love each other, then all the other problems just kinda just fade.
Having a baby is like going to an emotional coat check, giving them your previous ‘reason to live’ at the door, and getting a new, much more legitimate one – a coat that no matter how big, will always make you feel warm and happy but will never make you feel totally relaxed. I’m not sure that makes sense at all.
My reason to live, every single day, is to be the best version of myself for that baby. Many days I fail, but it’s a pretty decent goal, right? Well that and to dress us all in coordinating tones of blue, obviously.
Thanks Stephanie Todaro for taking such pretty photos of our family. Toddlers are difficult, Stephanie is wonderful.