Emily Henderson Header Image Emily Henderson

Happy 8 months, Mr. Charles

Its 3am, which probably isn’t the best time to be writing an update about Charlie, but I can’t sleep and thinking about him seems way more fun and healthy right now than thinking about what I actually should be doing. So let’s dish about motherhood, shall we?

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First let’s get the clichés out of the way now:  I never knew a love could be like this. I love him so much I want to squeeze him like a tube of toothpaste during the olympic toothpaste measuring contest. Just so hard. All the time. I’ve never craved and yet rejected responsibility so much. I want him around me all the time, and yet I constantly want just a 5 minute break. I love him so much that I’m still terrified at the potential loss. Daily.

Before I had Charlie people would say, ‘I need to get home to see my kid before they go to bed’, but what I heard was ‘Ugh. I wish I could have another dark and stormy but I chose to have a kid young and now I have to  give up my youth to take responsibility for my actions’. Obviously I’m exaggerating (I didn’t actually think that extremely), but the point is that I now get it. I had no idea that people really wanted to get home to their kids. I didn’t know that hanging out with them for an hour before they go to bed was a pleasure, something they craved, something that could cause extreme happiness or unhappiness if missed.

How naive I was. It actually is the difference between a totally satisfying day and a normal day. Sure, sometimes it’s obviously lovely to not have the responsibility, but not more than one night in a row.

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I look at this little being and I’m just sure that he brings everyone he encounters so much happiness (which I know is kinda delusional). He smiles often and laughs easily. He’s a total pleaser. Or he’s just a baby that smiles when people make ridiculously happy faces at him. Who knows.

But the thing is that I think most parents kinda think their kid is like this. We think that everyone is enamored with our child and it’s kinda our job to stay convinced of that for their entire life. It’s amazing how blinding a parents love can be. Totally blinding. We bring Charlie to brunch, convinced that we are giving a gift to our friends by doing so. ‘Charlie Hendo is here, everyone. Feel free to order the mimosas and celebrate. You are welcome’. Sure, they love us and therefore care for Charlie but do they secretly wish it was just the two of us again? Yes. Well, probably. (ahhh, hopefully not!!!!)

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No one loves your kid like you do. And furthermore what is more baffling is that every parent (almost) loves their kid as much as you love yours. That’s right!!!!????? IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!

Sure, there are bad parents out there. But chances are that Kim K loves North as much as I love Charlie. Gwinnie loves Apple as much as I love Charlie. Snookie loves her kid, whats-his-name-Jersey, probably as much as I love Charlie. And more importantly: My parents love me as much as I love Charlie.

That is baffling to me and actually a hard pill to swallow because you think there is just no way that this love is comparable to anybody else’s in the world. But it is. I don’t know if that point is coming across right. But the point is that no matter who you are, the love for your child is overwhelming and unique ….. and yet totally common. For a while I actually thought that I loved Charlie more than any other parent has ever loved a baby, and then my hormones shifted back to normal and I stopped weeping. What a weird year. Sorry about January through March 🙂

It makes me more compassionate, more empathetic, and yes I feel more of a sense of community in the world then I did before. Every mothers main goal is to love and parent their kids, and while we all do it very differently it’s remarkable how unifying it can also be.

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Is it hard? This isn’t a, ‘nobody told me that motherhood is the hardest!’ situation, nor is it, ‘this is so easy because he poops rainbows!’ situation. I’m 34, I knew what I was getting into and we were ready emotionally and mentally. But it is still hard at times. Since I work a lot I wish I could spend more time at home with him. But then of course the days that I do have him all day I’m dying for other people to hang out with us (which is why I take him with me shopping all the time if we can’t have a playdate with my best friend).

The days alone are just so fun, intimate, lonely, boring, touching and stressful at the same time. It’s probably no surprise that I get bored easily and while I love cuddling and being mellow, after about 2 hours in the house of playing peekaboo I have to at least go for a walk if not get out and shop.

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Battling the work guilt is hard but getting easier by the day. Besides, I’ve just convinced myself that this little man loves to visit me at work. I don’t know if its true and I don’t know if its damaging him in some unknown way.  But most afternoons I come home for a while or he comes to visit. And it’s totally wonderful – for like 45 minutes 🙂 It doesn’t solve the problem but it helps.

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I think the hardest part for us isn’t raising the baby, it’s staying ourselves and maintaining a really healthy relationship and marriage. It’s so easy to just talk about work and Charlie and not really connect. We are tired. The conversation about our individual lives is never really pressing. But still, maintaining that intense love that you/we almost inevitably felt raising your first newborn is hard when you are both playing the ‘who has a busier day’ competition when he wakes up at 6am. Luckily for Brian I’m a morning person. Bastard. It’s all good, but you know it’s something we actively think about.

So here are some details that I’m always curious about so I thought I’d share.

Do we have a nanny? Yes. We have two lovely ladies that take turns helping us and they are totally wonderful. It equals about 40 hours a week, plus usually at least one night. They are so good with him, seem to genuinely love him and help keep things tidy and make him healthy food, etc, (we use the little pouches, too). It’s a luxury to have this, I realize and I’m grateful for it every day. We started with 3 days a week at 3 months, then 4 days at 6 months and now we are pretty much up to 5 days a week at 8 months.

How’s he sleeping? He goes to bed around 7:30 and wakes up a 6:20. So I normally have til 8:30am when he goes down for his first nap to play with him and then I try to get home by 5:45 to have the last two hours of the day. As I’m writing this it sounds like NOTHING, but since he comes and visits during the day it’s actually emotionally doable. By 5:30 I’m panicking on the way home, but by 7:30 when he’s down I really do feel like we connected.  He takes 2 45 – 1hr naps in the middle. It’s not consistent but since he’s sleeping through the night we try to not obsess about it.

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He’s onto solid foods and loves them. He crawls. He babbles. He laughs. He’s strong as hell and is such a bruiser. He climbs and falls constantly (we make sure that it’s always a safe place to fall – no shards of glass or rusty nails) but he bounces back so fast (within seconds). He’s a bad ass.

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He’s starting to have opinions which is of course so adorable and exciting to watch, but also frustrating when he refuses to let us change him without throwing  a tantrum.

Part of me wants 2 more kids right now and part of me just wants to wait and have one more, when ready. I love being a mom sooooo much. I love how young and old it makes me feel at the same time. I love (and am terrified) how less vain I am than I used to be. I love how much less stressed out I get with everything else that I have going on.

I love the excuse to act like an idiot. I put my hair in a high ponytail and he thinks its hilarious. I move my feet to ‘Do and Deer’ and he laughs like I’m Sara Silverman. I can’t stop kissing those cheeks. They are so wonderful and fleshy and begging to be nuzzled at all times.

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In other words … yes, motherhood is hard, but only in the way that your dream job is hard. You have a huge responsibility, but you are being rewarded constantly. You are running a team so you also have to be mindful of everything you do because it effects other people. You can’t wait to get done with a project but are immediately excited about the next. It’s so exhausting but you actually couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Happy 8 month birthday, Charlie. You, my little friend, are my favorite small thing in the world (your dad being my favorite large thing). TGIF, folks. Let the weekend begin.

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