Last year we welcomed Bump into the world. His emergence into our lives was quite the shock, and the initial adjustment of parenting a newborn just as we were considering what it would be like being empty nesters in a couple of years took a lot out of us. On the other hand, we have Bump in our lives, and the kid is absolutely adorable. We wouldn’t trade him for anything 1. Still, there are some things to which I’m getting re-acclimated. Here’s a few.
Infants love cheerios. Love them. The problem is, infants don’t have well-developed fine motor skills, which makes an infant’s ability to eat cheerios at about a 25% success rate. Bump goes for the “try to pick one up, while at the same time double fisting every cheerio in the tri-state area, in order to get it into his mouth” method of cheerio eating. It works, as Bump does eat some cheerios, but we have a bit of a cheerio explosion in the house. They are everywhere, even places where Bump has never once attempted to eat a cheerio. And, being, round, cheerios enjoy rolling. We’ve become resigned to hearing endless crunching as we walk through the house. We do vacuum, but we can’t keep up. I think the cheerios are multiplying.
Vanishing Counter Space
We don’t have a lot of counter space in our kitchen. It’s a bit of a pain. but we make it work. But Bump’s stuff takes a lot of space. So when we want to prepare a meal more complex than, “Boil it” we have to dismantle the baby equivalent of a M.A.S.H. 2 before getting under way. It’s a bit daunting, to tell you the truth.
I’m Forty-Five years old 3, and our first two kids are at the “we manage ourselves and promise to not burn the house down, if we remember” stage of life. I’m not used to having a strict schedule.
Baby’s, however, need a schedule. And if you divert from that schedule your reward is hours and hours of misery as baby tries to get adjusted. For the first six months of Bump’s life we had actual conversations about the risks vs. rewards of going out after 6 PM to run errands or even grab a bite to eat. The Sun was still out and we were there telling each other, “I don’t know, it’s pretty late 4.” As Bump has progressed through his first trip around the sun we’ve gain a bit more flexibility in scheduling, but the days of being able to say, “Hey, let’s do this right now” are gone.
The saying goes, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I’m now convinced it could also be rendered, “Parenting is wasted on the young.” When our older kids were little I remember struggling with the balance between trying to get some actual work done, finding time to putter on my own to keep my brain healthy, and pay attention to the kids. Trying to balance these things stressed me out, and when I’m stressed I can be grumpy 5. It’s a credit to my kids that they think I gave them anything value growing up 6, but I never quite understood the peace of just being there with them. I needed to get them moving, or entertained, or out on a walk, or out playing with the neighborhood kids, or doing something on their own so I break away for a bit and get back to the things I needed to do.
Due to an illness, I ended up watching Bump three days this week, but all that stress I used to have about how to entertain kids, or thinking about what I wasn’t getting done, just isn’t there. Mostly I sit on the floor with Bump as he crawls around from toy to toy like he’s never seen them before 7. Every now and again he’ll crawl over to me and smile, or grab my hands so he can stand up, then he’ll be off exploring once again. I’ll just watch. It’s peaceful to just see him play. And it’s heart-warming to experience him crawl over to me, snuggle in for a second to be reassured that I’m there, and then go off on his own to play once again.
Last night he was in our bed after a feeding 8 and early in the AM hours I rolled over so I could get comfortable. He popped his head up, saw my face, smiled with content, and then nuzzled into my arm as his pillow. My arm was cramped, I had half an inch of mattress between me and the floor, my head was throbbing from a sinus headache, my body was stiff, and my throat hurt from all the post-nasal drip I’ve been having. The moment I saw that smile I just closed my eyes and went to sleep – there was no place I’d rather have been at that moment.
I dreamed of cheerios 9.
- Not even the introvert’s dream of an empty nest. ↩
- If you don’t know what that means, ask your parents. ↩
- No, you aren’t being told my wife’s age. I want to live. ↩
- And, no, this is not an exaggeration for effect. We really had that conversation. ↩
- Daddy needs a nap. ↩
- And one day they might admit it publicly. ↩
- This is a distraction so he can crawl to get something he’s not supposed to have. ↩
- He’s been ill so he’s up a bit more than normal. ↩
- OK, that part I made up. ↩