More than ever before (of course, because that’s how time works), I’m looking at Forrest and seeing a big boy. Not a baby anymore, or even a toddler, but a real big boy, the kind who has playdates without me and ends the day with stinky socks and wears pajamas without the feet attached.
His baby phase felt like it would last forever. Between the endless colicky days and nights that I thought would never pass, and the frustrating toddler stage when he wanted desperately to talk but couldn’t, and the exasperating terrible twos when he’d throw mind-blowing tantrums in public, I figured we’d always be barely inching along at a snail’s pace from one difficult stage to another without things ever getting much easier or more enjoyable. And I hate to admit it, because I guess as a mom I’m supposed to pretend everything’s fantastic all the time and he’s a perfect little angel nugget, but a pretty good portion of his infancy and toddler stages really were kind of unpleasant. I always loved him—always and so much—but I didn’t always like him, or want to spend my every moment with him, if that means anything. I feel awful admitting that, but it’s the truth. In a lot of ways, he’s been a tough kid to raise. He’s so stubborn. So dramatic. So emotional.
I don’t know what’s changed over the past months—probably just getting older and mellowing out and getting better and better at communicating with me—but he has grown and matured and changed so much. Toss me a life preserver in case I go too far overboard here . . . he definitely still has plenty of butthead moments (like absolutely refusing to touch any food he hasn’t tried before, no matter how we bribe or threaten or promise to reward him), he can still throw an impressive tantrum (not nearly as frequently as he used to, thank goodness), and is more argumentative than ever before (“Five mo minutes before bed, Mama. FIVE MO!”). But he’s also never been so snuggly and affectionate, so hilarious and adorable, so playful and fun. He cracks us up every day with the ridiculous things he says (like insisting Jesus is in his tummy and, by the way, is quite the wiggly baby and “will come out soon, probawy after we eat wunch”), he always wants to be snuggled when he’s watching TV or looking at books, and he tells me almost every day that I’m his “favowite hewo” (hero, for those who don’t speak Forrest). And yes, I eat that up, thank you very much.
Heaven forbid I not make every post about me me me with a side of me. I’m loving this stage he’s in now. I still get frustrated with him and lose my temper sometimes, but I’m also a little more appreciative now of the fleetingness of each stage he passes through. And I’m trying to enjoy this current sweet stage without pining too much for the good parts of stages he’s outgrown or longing for stages I think will be easier in the future. Some of the best, truest advice on parenting that I ever received was from a friend who told me to remember that everything kids go through is just a phase—thinking of the hard parts as ‘just a phase’ makes them a little easier to bear, and thinking of the sweet moments as ‘just a phase’ makes you appreciate them more. I can honestly say I enjoy being his mom right now . . . and it means a lot to me to feel that way, since this hasn’t always been an easy ride.
All things considered, motherhood has been hard for me far more often than it’s been easy. It wasn’t as natural of a transition as I expected. It’s been a struggle—sometimes a daily, an hourly struggle—to adjust to sharing my time and my life and myself so completely with these little midgets. But I’m so glad they’re here with us, and even—dare I say it?—the teeniest, tiniest bit grateful that Forrest went through all those horribly difficult stages along the way (with many more difficult moments in our future, I’m sure), because they’ve made me appreciate these sweet stages even more.
And since kids are nothing if not experts at making their parents eat their words, I’m sure I’ll be right here typing up a completely opposite post about how he’s making me tear my hair out next week.